The new Samsung Galaxy Note 20 and Samsung Galaxy Tab S7, announced Wednesday during Samsung’s remote product unveiling, can go wireless and throw multitasking screens to your TV. It’s the latest attempt to transform phones into something more computer-like, using Samsung’s years-old DeX technology.
It’s something that could make these devices be more useful as multitasking computer alternatives… maybe. I just wonder if this is the step that could allow DeX to turn the corner as a really useful tool, or whether it’s just an idea that’s starting to feel like it should be a standard feature for any phone.
I used to love the idea of turning a phone into a computer. I tried Samsung DeX years ago, and it turned out to be much more useful than I expected. Now, after being at home for five months trying to make computers out of whatever’s lying around my office, the idea seems relevant again.
Samsung’s latest Note phones and tablets once again enable DeX, but the wireless connection is new. DeX will wirelessly extend your display to a TV, but that TV needs to have Miracast support and be on the same Wi-Fi network.
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Previous DeX second-screen support on phones meant plugging into a monitor with a dock or directly through the phone’s USB-C port. That turned out OK when using a Samsung phone along with a mouse and keyboard, turning it into a little basic Android PC… but it meant needing a desk to set everything up on. The wireless TV feature could allow you to put a keyboard on your lap and use the phone as a trackpad. Would that feel like a productive way to work? I don’t know, I haven’t tried it yet.
On a tablet like the Tab S7, DeX means opening multiple apps in a more “Windows-ish” environment than the standard Android or iPad app layouts. Throwing the DeX desktop to a TV could be a plus for sharing videos or throwing collaborative projects on a larger screen. It sounds more versatile than the iPad’s more limited screen-mirroring.
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Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S6 tablet last year also added DeX support for that desktop-like tablet mode and second displays, but without the wireless display connection option.
I still don’t know if I’d find this helpful in my home right now, when my kids are always hunting for a computer or iPad to use and we’re buried in tons of random screens. The newest DeX changes seem a lot more focused on TV casting than the type of laptop work I normally do. But Samsung’s still working out solutions for DeX, and maybe soon enough it’ll get the whole thing right.