Samsung's Galaxy S8 and S8+ have made quite the splash. And if you're an entrepreneur, you're probably curious about how the latest smartphone will impact your business productivity. While the Galaxy S8 boasts some valuable business features, the most powerful work innovation Samsung is pushing is their concurrent release of the DeX Station.
The DeX is a docking station that promises to turn your Galaxy S8 or S8+ phone into a functional PC, so you can work on the go without lugging around your laptop or tablet. By plugging your S8 into Samsung's port, you can access whatever is on your phone on a full-sized desktop screen, complete with a keyboard and mouse. Samsung added a Linux app as a trial experience on the DeX. Developers can code on the go in the preferred distribution of the developer. But to do so, you must sign up for alerts. The full feature isn't quite ready.
If the idea of a docking station that turns a phone into a desktop sounds familiar to you, that's because it is. Prior and current attempts at conquering the phone desktop dock space include the Microsoft Display Dock, Motorola's Atrix (now defunct), Sentio's Superbook, HP Elite x3 Desk Dock and a handful of others. Traditionally, docks that turn phones into desktops have only managed niche appeal, but Samsung thinks the DeX Station will be different.
How is the DeX new?
Reviews of the Samsung DeX read much like reviews for prior attempts at desk docks: People like the general idea but aren't sure it will go anywhere. Eric McCarty, vice president of mobile B2B product marketing at Samsung Electronics America, said the DeX "delivers seamless access to business applications, including Microsoft, Adobe as well as virtual Windows desktops and apps from Citrix, VMware and Amazon for today's mobile workforces."
Reviewers generally agree that Samsung made some marked improvements on the phone dock concept. The South Korean company spent a lot of time retooling their UI to make sure it would function equally well on screens of different sizes (with or without a mouse and keyboard), and the ability to use Microsoft and Adobe products – not to mention access remote desktops – is a real win.
Samsung has reportedly received positive feedback regarding the DeX from enterprise-level organizations, especially those in the finance, government and health care fields. When asked about public response, McCarty confirmed that but said there had also been strong interest from small and medium-size businesses, including those in the home office segment.
Will it work for business?
So, what does all of this mean for you as an entrepreneur? Should you jump on the phone dock bandwagon? I spoke with Werner Goertz, Gartner research director for personal technologies for his take on the DeX Station and how it could impact the way business is done.
I asked Goertz why he thought previous attempts to create a phone-to-desktop dock hadn't succeeded. He said it boiled down to two primary issues: lack of demand (especially in the case of the Motorola Atrix) and absence of a real productivity environment. He was quick to point out that in many ways, the Samsung DeX is different from other docks on the market, and that because of these differences, there may be a greater demand for the DeX.
Goertz is right: Unlike other phone/dock combinations, Samsung has fully integrated security features and biometric authenticators into their system. They've also succeeded at creating, as Goertz put it, "a more complete processing environment." In other words, the Samsung DeX looks, feels and functions more like a stand-alone PC than previous phone-to-desktop docks.
Despite the many features of the Samsung DeX, Goertz thinks it's unlikely that a phone-to-desktop dock will ever completely replace personal laptops: "There will always be a segment of users, especially in content creation, that will prefer a laptop or even desktop." However, that doesn't mean the Samsung DeX is off the table for small businesses.
Docks like the DeX could potentially save business owners money, especially those who operate in high-cost real estate areas. As rental costs climb, many SMBs are shifting from a one-desk-per-employee model to a hot-desk model where employees on a rotating schedule share the same desk space. The DeX dock is ideal for this setup as it allows multiple employees to work at the same workstation at different times. The only caveat (and it's an expensive one) is that they'd all have to own a Galaxy S8/S8+.
Keep the DeX in mind for your office but do so with a little caution and weigh the costs. Future retail bundling of the DeX and Galaxy S8 may make outfitting your business with docks more affordable, but don't throw out your laptop just yet.