My fun with the Samsung DEX smartphone dock has been interesting and a learning experience. For one, I purchased a renewed version from Amazon so I lacked any instruction manual. Looking at the device it seems simple enough that one wouldn’t be necessary. I found out that wasn’t the case when it came to a few details.
I have a twelve year old HP 2207 monitor connected to my twelve year old desktop that I currently use to write my stories. The reason why I’m using it over my newer laptop is another story for another blog post. So, the LCD flatscreen monitor has a VGA port. The DEX has a HDMI port. This means a VGA to HDMI converter connector, right?
Yes and no. Yes, the converter dongle thing worked to connect the two units. Consequently, it should work just fine, right? No. While it did connect and send a video signal to the monitor, for some reason it wouldn’t keep the monitor active abd it went into sleep mode.
Naturally unhappy, I checked the specifications for the monitor online and it listed a HDMI port. There wasn’t an icon for the port on the back of the monitor as it did for the audio in, power cord, and VGA ports. Tipping over the monitor and looking carefully, I found it. I found a spare HDMI cable and I was set for the monitor connection at least.
The resolution for the DEX is HD at 1920 x 1080, while the monitor’s maximum resolution is 1680 x 1050. This makes the DEX desktop squished slightly, and still usable if not perfectly proportioned. The important outcome is the monitor stayed on allowing me to move on to the next bump in the road.
When I attempted to connect my phone to the DEX smartphone USB C port, my Samsung Galaxy S9 wouldn’t match up. Realizing the problem was the Otterbox Defended case putting the phone out of alignment, I removed it. The phone docked perfectly. It disappointed me that I had to remove the protective shell to use the docking station. Then I had an idea pop up. I’d buy a USB C extender cable to diz the issue.
Finding a USB C car with both a male and female end wasn’t as easy as it appeared. Locally, I could find USB C to USB A with two male ends, but not what I needed. I searched in Amazon and finally found one. Well, I found two. As I couldn’t tell from the description if both were charge capable only or if they’d work for power abd data, I purchased both. In less than 48 hours I had my solution.
I connected the new cable to both the dock and phone hoping for the best. An instant later, I heard my phone chime the charging tone and the monitor came to life with the DEX software desktop. My problem was solved and I could use my phone for other things while docked. As well, I could now use the headphone jack on my phone while docked, something I couldn’t do before. With either docking scenario I could still play sound through the phone speakers.
Another item that can be an annoyance is that only some phone apps can convert to desktop forms and layout. Web browsers can, for example, look like a regular computer format, though with a different interface that either the smartphone instance or a full PC program. Still, it is resizes and gives a full desktop real estate feel.
An app like Twitter, however, doesn’t convert over to a great desktop experience. Rather it remains a narrow width and tall column layout just as with the phone. Even so, the DEX desktop instance has fewer controls, though one can still tweet even it little else can be done.
Fortunately, the phone apps can still be used while a DEX desktop instance is used simultaneously. That’s one redeeming attribute for the device and the DEX experience. While not perfect, it offers the benefits of a desktop feel without needing a full computer.
For the new user, having an instruction manual would be nice to learn about the limitations and quirks of the DEX smartphone dock. Consequently, the lack of it in a renewed service situation could be problematic for some. I found that with my trouble shooting skills and creative problem solving I overcame a few of the challenges that presented themselves.
So far, the unit works like I need it to do, and it gives me an easier way to type volumes of text without the hassle of thumb typing on a smartphone screen. For the moment, I’m not certain if this docking station can allow me to use my smartphone as a replacement computer in a way that I feel comfortable. It has the potential and some reviewers say it can be. I’m not yet convinced for my own usage, and I’m still trying it out. I’ll provide another update soon.