3 things to know before turning your Galaxy S8 into a computer

Samsung DeX is a small accessory that converts a smartphone into a full-fledged computer of sorts.

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Along with the Galaxy S8, Samsung announced a few new accessories for its smartphone. Perhaps the most notable of which is DeX.

Primarily a docking station for your phone, when an S8 is placed into a DeX dock, it activates software that's built into your Galaxy S8. There's no need to download special software or purchase additional apps to use the DeX interface. Right now, DeX will work only with the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus.

Sounds awesome, right? It is as long as you keep a few things in mind going into the experience.

Required peripherals

In addition to the $150 DeX Station, you'll need the following:

  • An HDMI cable
  • A monitor or TV with an HDMI port
  • A wired or Bluetooth keyboard
  • A wired or Bluetooth mouse
  • Optional: Ethernet cable

There are two standard USB ports on the back of the docking station for the mouse and keyboard, or if you opt to go with Bluetooth, you can use the ports for an external hard drive. For those who plan on using the station in a more permanent setting, there's also an Ethernet port for a hardwired connection.

Not all apps are compatible with DeX

The current list of DeX-optimized apps in Samsung's Galaxy app store.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

When using apps on the desktop interface, you're actually using the same Android apps you already have installed on your phone. Some apps, such as Microsoft Office Suite and Samsung's own apps, have received updates to make them compatible with the DeX platform.

Unfortunately, not all apps have been optimized to work with DeX. Instead, DeX defaults to using the standard phone version of the app. For example, using the Facebook app you will have a single column view, just as if you were looking at it on your S8.

Some apps, however, default to the tablet version. I've yet to figure out how to force an app to use the tablet layout rather than the phone version, though. For example, the Twitter app Flamingo has a tablet version, but when using it on DeX, I'm only shown the phone version.

Get a speaker or some headphones

You may want to use some sort of Bluetooth headphones or speaker when your S8 is placed into the station. Otherwise, all audio is routed through the S8's lone speaker, and unfortunately, the headphone jack on the S8 is covered up by Dex. It's not a requirement, but if you want to listen to music or watch a movie without disturbing those around you, a Bluetooth device is a must.