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.