Allright.. settle down the title is just a small joke. Samsung has been kind enough to send over a S8 + DeX station for me to play with. This won’t however be a phone review, because I have to be honest to myself and state that I am not at all an expert in this field. There was a time where I was an early adopter to phone technology and where I was switching phones multiple times a year. It was around 2006 when I bought a Sony Ericsson M600 (and imagined that I was just like James Bond).
Fiddling around with this “smart” phone I started to see that in the future phones would play an increasingly important role in our personal- and business lives. However certainly in the beginning these “smart” phones were not at all end-user friendly.
I think Apple was one of the firsts to bring end-user friendly smartphones to the market, and I was one of the customers that bought-in to their story and being honest I’ve never changed again. Apple delivered a intuitive device which integrated at the time with other (Apple) things. So this is why my knowledge isn’t up to date with with Android or other developments in the phone space.
But there is a very special feature which has me interested, and its why I’ve asked Samsung to send over this device. You are able to pull the phone out of your pocket and place it (without any plugs, adapters or anything) in a docking station called Dex.
Once you’ve docked your phone you can start using it as a desktop device meaning; operate it using a monitor, keyboard en mouse. Comparing it to the snack, dine & cook model (you snack information on your phone, “dine” meaning converse over- and interact with data on tablets or similar devices but when you really need to create you “cook” on a desktop device) I can certainly see that the Samsung DeX solution could fill certain use cases.
But we’ve got one more thing…..
Running Windows applications on your Samsung phone
Samsung runs Android as the base operating system for their phones. And because my awesome colleagues at VMware have built an Android Horizon client you now can run Horizon sessions from your docked Samsung phone.
So.. this is not at all a new concept; we’ve had the Motorola ATRIX which I never reviewed but my best guess is that they were too early and that the Webtop software (needed for switching to desktop mode) presented to many limitations and finally the pricing of the dock also factored in the lack-off adoption into market space. We also had Microsoft with Continuum which also looked promising but I think they were to late and because of this the general adoption of Windows Phone was so poor that Microsoft inevitably killed it off.
So Samsung is the first company that has all the right ingredients to make this desktop experience a success: They’re the first mainstream brand/OS combination to attempt this, they’ve got beautiful hardware (especially the screen) and they’re running native Android when running in Desktop Experience.
Testing this I was amazed of the user experience. The hardware of both the phone and DeX station feel rigged and are made of quality materials and at the software side of things; It all works very intuitive and fast. I think this is solid solution for road worriers, people who spend 80% of their time away from their desk but sometimes need the desktop experience for creating content.
Configuring VMware Horizon on your Samsung Phone
VMware has a demo environment which you can access upon invitation from your VMware sales representative. This blog section will demonstrate how to configure the VMware Horizon Client on your Samsung phone and connect it to your organisation’s VMware environment or VMware’s TestDrive.
First you need to set-up you Dex station. This is fairly simple; you connect the USB-C power adapter (comes with the kit) and hook up a keyboard and mouse. Finally you connect a HDMI cable to a monitor and you’re done.
Now you’re ready tot pop-in your phone. Once you place your phone in the Dex station it will welcome you to DeX, and ask you if you want to start DeX or Switch to screen mirroring. Select “Start Samsung DeX”
Now switch to your screen, keyboard and mouse.
You’re welcomed by the first-run introductions. Walk trough these and select next.
Select start in the notice screen. Now you’re ready to start using DeX, however to start using your Samsung DeX phone as a thin client in your business environment you need the VMware Horizon Client. Go to the application launcher and start the PlayStore, once launched search for VMware Horizon Client.
Once you’ve found the Horizon Client go-ahead and install the application
Once installed the application needs a couple of permissions to be able te run properly. Go ahead and grant these permissions.
After this you’re ready to input some configuration. First put in the server address of your company’s VMware environment. In this case I’ll input the address of the VMware TestDrive environment. You can also give this configuration a description.
Server Adress: https://horizonemea.vmtestdrive.com
Description: VMware TestDrive
Select Connect after you’ve put-in the configuration
Next you will be prompted again for permissions. These permissions are used inside your session. For example by granting access to Photos, Media and Files you are able to access files in your phone from inside the Horizon Windows session.
Now you are all set. After this you can select one of the available sessions and start being productive!