Of new phones and Nexdocks

I’m not sure if you’re aware but I broke my phone. I’m not sure if it was just me or if it was a particular turkey because since I got it the USB port always felt a bit bad and loose.

Anyway, after dealing with Samsung on Wednesday (sorry guys, great phones but your customer service sucks balls) and finding out I’d have to send off my means of business communication for anything up to 2 weeks, and with the risk that they could then send me a bill for an unspecified amount I decided to claim on my insurance.

I had one day without a phone yesterday and it felt like my arms had been cut off. I couldn’t get things like passcodes and manuals for things despite having a tablet (of course a WiFi dongle could allow me to use the tablet out and about). My watch acted as my phone but the text messages didn’t seem to come through as they should and it was just so limited.

So my service provider sorted me a new phone the next day. Same as the last one. Possibly only temporary anyway as I’m really liking the idea of the Fold 3. A lot of money yeah, but I think foldables are finally entering mainstream.

After an evening of setup and clearing the inevitable junk that’s appeared on it; and rationalising the installed apps (I’ve always previously restored from a backup but this time I had time to clean it up in the process of the restore) I’m up and running again.

Like I say the Fold 3 is really attracting me. Yeah it’s a downgrade on the camera as it’s back to what appears to be the Note 10 camera system (unless they surprise us) but the thought of a foldable has really cried out to me since the original Fold first appeared on the market.

Obviously I’d need to consider the s-pen issue (the new one works with the s-pen but unlike the Note there’s no dock in the phone to store this) – would I end up with a case to hold this too? Would I lose it? Will it be Bluetooth as I use the Bluetooth shutter release so much when I’m doing my photography.

So what about the new Nexdock?

Honesty, having used it briefly the USP of it flipping back to front isn’t a selling point. The Nexdock Touch is the better device. Sorry guys, but in your redesign you’ve taken away two features I really use.

1. USB – yes, USB C is a big thing now. But USB A is still commonplace and as someone who uses it a lot to get footage off drives getting rid of the USB A port is a killer. I don’t want dongles. It’s more crap to lose!

2. HDMI – they’ve gone down the route of mini HDMI. Again, more crap to carry. I can buy a HDMI cable in Poundland in an emergency – I often need to monitor CCTV systems and I need to use the customer’s existing architecture to plug in. HDMI is essential to me! I can’t be doing with non standard ports and dongles again. I know they supply you a cable, but again, more crap to carry!

I don’t think I’ll be ordering any more. Yeah for the common or garden user I’d say jump and get one if Samsung DeX is your thing; it’s just the old version is my favourite.

A few days with the Nexdock

So I’ve had the Nexdock a few days now, and I suppose you’re all gagging to know what I think of it?

Well first things first – it is very important to remember that the Nexdock does not have an OS as such. If you are buying one because you think it’s a laptop then you’re going to be very disappointed. You have to connect some form of device to the Dock for it to do anything at all.

After the initial “oooh” moment I have now had chance to remove my rose tinted glasses and actually use it, and I’ve discovered a few things which may or may not be helpful.

Software

DeX, whilst a really good idea still needs work. A lot of programmes really don’t like it at all. BBC iplayer was one of my biggest disappointments! Also Google Apps really aren’t actually optimised for the DeX layout, although thankfully Microsoft have pulled their finger out and the android versions of their office suite work beautifully.

The wide screen, whilst at first appearing advantageous is actually not good for most Android apps. Running them in Landscape format is awkward and most of them end up with a very poor user experience. Thankfully apps can be resized and a tall thin window emulating the aspect ratio of a phone looks good. Apps that do adapt to the layout well, though, look stunning.

I tried a little Google Stadia on it. You would think the dock was made for Stadia! The sound is solid and bass, and the screen works beautifully with games such as Little Nightmares.

Browsing feels really natural, although I’ve actually found Samsung’s own browser to be a better performer than Chrome. The tabbed browsing feels like a PC browser and it renders windows much truer to a PC format rather than trying to render them to a tablet view.

I would like to add that the software limitations above are nothing to do with the Nexdock and are brought about by DeX.

Hardware

As for the hardware itself, well it’s certainly a very solid device! It feels heavy and substantial. Yes it fails the one hand opening test for laptops but I’m not too bothered about that personally.

The keyboard is a good if slightly springy one, with a good layout. I ditched the silicon skin in the end though as it was grippy and annoying, and so now I’m using a US layout. It’s not a major problem for me though as I used to use Acorn archimedes computers back in the 80’s and they always had the “odd” American quotes position.

One thing I did find is the proximity of the touch pad to the space bar does cause occasional nuisance touches, but the touch pad can be turned off easily with Nex & Escape key combination. I haven’t found this documented, but it’s good to know.

The screen is OK. It’s nice and bright, and the definition is very sharp but a cycling white @ colours test screens shows where compromises have been made. Mine has two blotches where the brightness is irregular. It’s a fairly standard panel though so I’m sure replacing it with a better quality panel wouldn’t be a massive deal.

The final thing to bear in mind is that the charger is a PD (power delivery) charger so you won’t be able to charge the device using your normal phone charger. I have two PD chargers. Both worked fine and charged it.

Final thoughts

Honestly it’s amazing.

A business usage scenario I see is staff are provided with a Galaxy S/Note smartphone and a Nexdock in place of a laptop. Desks in the business have monitor and keyboard setups with the original Dex docks. This means nobody needs a laptop, thin client isn’t required, and upgrading phones also upgrades the laptop simultaneously.

A forward thinking organisation should be heading down this route if, as per most businesses, they don’t actually use Windows and most of their software is browser based. My business is certainly going down this route with PC’s only being supplied to those who actually need them.

It reduces laptop theft, and because with a good administrative background Android is a robust business platform, you can increase device security to a very high level.

Nexdock Touch Arrived

After receiving the notification last week about my Nexdock being shipped and then it actually sitting in a warehouse for a few days (which I was fairly patient about to be honest), I had a notification on Monday that indeed it had shipped and it was in transit.

In what appeared to be no time at all it shipped across Europe, and arrived in the UK overnight. This afternoon at just after 12 o’clock it was delivered! (along with a customs email asking me to pay the VAT on it).

Well after a few hours of use I can tell you I am very impressed with it! The entire thing feels solid, with a nice substantial weight to it. The screen borders are very slim – pretty much rivalling my wife’s Dell laptop; the screen is crisp and bright with good colour rendering too.

Sound is acceptable. Not stunning, but very acceptable. The USB port works just as expected, and everything I’ve plugged into it so far was read fine by my phone.

It charges my phone whilst it’s plugged in, using it’s own battery to do so. The phone charges a little slowly, but at least it does charge.

As for the touchpad, well I’ve had to turn off multi touch gestures, apparently this was also a problem on the earlier Nexdocks too where the palm would trick the touchpad and the app you were running would close.

So what are the downsides? Well, only one really. It’s not a UK keyboard layout and the manufacturers have supplied a silicon overlay. It’s acceptable, but I’m not sure if I’ll stick with it. It feels grabby and clingy. I’ve given it a squirt of my latex clothing polish (I’m currently on BeGloss). It seems to have removed the cling a little. I should keep the membrane on as it is actually a work device and the membrane will keep the keyboard clean.

The other flaw with the overlay membrane is it does reduce the effectiveness of the backlighting.

Other than that little flaw I’m very impressed so far. It’ll be interesting to give it a spin out in the field, but I can honestly see it being my daily driver along with my phone.