The idea of plugging a smart phone into a dock and turning it into a PC isn't a new one. But previous attempts (such as the HP Elite X3 or the Motorola Atrix) have failed because the phones weren't powerful enough or there was limited app support.
Samsung's new DeX dock, besides ignoring the usual rules of capitalization, takes another stab at the idea, but it has two big advantages. First, it's designed for the incredibly powerful Galaxy S8 ($579.99 at Amazon.com); and second, it can access specially optimized versions of some Android apps in order to give you a full-screen experience that's surprisingly PC-like.
The DeX looks like a hockey puck when closed, but flips open to reveal a USB-C port for plugging in your phone. There's an HDMI output to connect to an external display, plus two USB 2.0 ports and an ethernet jack. You can also connect a standard keyboard and mouse via Bluetooth.
A handful of Android apps will be optimized for this desktop view, including the default internet browser (but not Google's Chrome browser), Microsoft Office and some Adobe applications. That means you can run multiple apps at once and grab the corner of each window to resize the apps, just as one would on a PC. Apps that are not DeX optimized will open in a phone-shaped window.
We saw something similar recently in the Samsung Chromebook Pro ($547.99 at Amazon.com), a hybrid Chrome OS laptop that added support for Google Play Android apps, including multitasking and resizable windows.
It's not quite the full PC experience, but there's an interesting security play here. Current smartphones are considered very secure, as they're both encrypted and biometrically locked, so the DeX gives you the option of packing all your sensitive data on a phone, using it as a desktop PC, then putting the entire thing in your pocket when you leave.
There's no exact price for the DeX docking station yet, but based on a leaked price of €149, it's expected to cost around $160 or £129 and AU$210.