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Using your phone as a computer with a little help from DeX.

lakedude

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Mar 14, 2009
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A series of events have lined up over the years that not only make it possible but preferable (for me at least) to use a phone instead of a traditional Windows 10 based computer. The last nail in the PC's coffin was the purchase of a new wireless printer which works great straight from the phone. The Windows computer has been moved and now runs in a closet to serve VR games/apps to our Oculus Quest via Virutal Desktop.

The DeX dock allows the use of a large monitor (or TV), a keyboard and a mouse with the phone. It also changes the way the phone works to be more like a computer with multiple windows open at the same time.

Now a phone is not going to replace a gaming rig or any system that sees hard computational use but for an average person a phone makes for a great computer. For me the tipping point was when when phones became fast enough to play/stream high quality, fullscreen, full motion video.

Phone advantages:

Apps are free or cheaper on the phone. Paid like $1 for Poly Bridge 2 at the Play Store, Steam wants $15 for the Windows version.

Built in battery backup

Portable

It is all there everywhere you go. Back when I used the computer more half my life was on my phone and the other half was on the computer. Now my whole life is in one easy to find place.

The phone uses far less power, like under 10 watts.

The phone is able to communicate from almost anywhere.

The phone is wisper quiet/fanless which makes it a great HTPC. The phone has hardware decoders for many popular codecs so it works great in this role.

The phone has GPS/Maps

Check out this screenshot of DeX in operation:

Screenshot_20190218-131442_Samsung Internet.jpg

The last time I traveled I took the phone and a laptop. The laptop never came out of the bag. It was there just in case. Next time I'll just take the phone along with the DeX and a small wireless keyboard.

My computer seems difficult to operate because I use the phone so much more. It wasn't that long ago the situation was reversed and I was more comfortable with the computer.
 

Muadib

Lifer
May 30, 2000
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I tried Dex, and returned it. I bought a gaming laptop as a replacement, and stand by that choice.
 

mindless1

Diamond Member
Aug 11, 2001
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Now a phone is not going to replace a gaming rig or any system that sees hard computational use but for an average person a phone makes for a great computer.
1) It is doubtful that most reading this forum are the "average person".

2) If you don't find any drawbacks, you also aren't the "average person".

3) If your windows computer was moved but still running, the power consumption difference is negligible, and if putting your phone under high load a lot, you might find that its lifespan degrades.

4) What if you damage the phone or it's stolen? Something something putting all eggs in one basket. What if you merely misplace it? I bet you'll get really nervous till it's found. I suppose that can be said about many people who don't rely exclusively on their phone, but at least they can sit down at the desktop and order a new phone. ;)

5) Apps are no contest. You can either settle for what you can get for free for the phone (and often suffer through ads), or choose from many years of apps for PC. I have so much PC software acquired over the years, and so much is free, that I can't imagine buying any software for a PC except for specific professional uses.

6) Certainly you can do a lot with a phone, especially if you bought a modern, expensive phone, but then you did have to pay more for it, than someone who asks less of their phone.

7) Not sure why you are mentioning a phone has maps, as if a PC can't do maps? Sure, a phone is a computer, a slower, less capable one except for having the cell radio built in. Does it simplify life to not be able to do as much and have it portable? Of course, but it's not like you have to choose one or the other. Google and other various services can keep files, contacts, etc accessible from both devices.
 

lakedude

Platinum Member
Mar 14, 2009
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Ok, I've got a gaming system, yes. In the past my computers were primary and the phone was secondary. Now the only time I turn the gaming computer on is to game. I don't leave it running in the closet as it only takes seconds to boot up. That is a big part of my point. The once great computers are off most of the time in favor of the phone.

Maudib, for many years the only book I'd ever read of my own volition (outside a schoolastic enviroment) was Dune. Great book!

Comparing a gaming rig to a DeX is not really fair since a DeX costs like $50 and a gaming rig perhaps $1000 or more. I rather assume people already have phones although that might not really be fair either. A new Samsung S8 sells for around $225 and will work just fine in a DeX so even counting the cost of the S8 we are comparing a apples to oranges. The fair thing would be to compare to a $275 computer.

I'm curious about all this free software for the PC. Over the years it seems like M$ goes out of their way to make the new incompatible with the old. My Windows 7 system for example after countless updates and replacement drivers finally came out and said that it was not compatible with my headset and that I needed Windows 10. I spent hours jumping through hoops only to discover that the Rift was suported but the Quest was not (Hmmm, that was with the cable, I'm going to try again with Virtual Desktop...). I keep a Windows 7 system because so many old programs do not work with Windows 10. Got some old stuff that needs the virtual XP mode that is available on W7.

Long ago I moved away from M$ Office to Star/Libre/Open Office and then jumped again to Google Docs/Sheets etc. I prefer programs that work cross platform, on computers and phones and alternate OSes as well. Google Voice might have been the start of this for me. It work on the computer and on the phone. I'm sure I originally got sucked into the Google universe from a computer perspective and once there switched over to being more phone centric.

Re: maps

Yes of course a computer can do maps. For years one of my favorite programs was Street Atlas but Google Maps made programs like that obsolete. Yeah you could put your computer in your car and run a map program but the phone works a lot easier. Also does the computer have GPS? I actually do not know but I suspect not. So what I'm saying is that if you go on a trip and could only choose a phone (and a DeX) or a laptop but not both the phone would win by a huge margin in my book. It isn't even close.

Re: lost/stolen phone

Good question. I've had computers stolen, so far I've had better luck with phones but yes it would be a huge problem if my phone was stolen, especially if the thief was an identity thief. The thing is that since my computers were stolen I've come to trust the cloud more and individual devices less. I'd be fine if the the phone was lost or stolen by someone who just wanted to erase it and have their own phone. Pictures/contacts/etc are all backed up to Google Drive. I'd spend $225 on a new S8, pull my info from Google Drive and be on my way. My account keeps track of all my apps so it would be easy to find and replace the apps. I'd be at 95% in a few hours.

Re: phone load short life

I don't think the phone is all that loaded down. Yes it sees frequent use but not heavy use. Worst thing might be to edit/transcode video every now an again (which is amazing that the phone can even do this). If I really need a big job done I'm going to use a computer but this happens so very infrequently. Gaming is the one thing that I use a computer for. Meanwhile I use the phone for/to:

Browse the web
check/send texts
check/send email
take pictures
take videos
edit pictures
edit video
send pics
transcode video
send video
stream Netflix, Hulu etc
stopwatch
calender
Maps/GPS
play Poly Bridge for 99c
shop Amazon/eBay
check the weather
check the news
get on social media
get double Whoppers for $3.00
control a ChromeCast
Shop for PC games on Steam with the Steam App
Help my kid with his homework
call using the phone
stopwatch
clock that keeps perfect time always
alarm
control the Oculus account
share the VR experience with a Gear VR.
control the lights
flashlight
magnifier/zoom to see things your eyes can't
music in the car, on the go or at home
more, so much more

So you tell me what exactly you think you need a computer for besides gaming. I'm sure plenty of power users "need" a computer btw. Not so sure an "average" person does.
 

mindless1

Diamond Member
Aug 11, 2001
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I can counter with the opposite question, what exactly do you think you need a phone for besides mobile talk, text, and light internet?

When I mentioned software, I meant software, not drivers. This in itself is a forte of a PC, that practically any hardware is going to be targeted at windows and if any driver is needed then it is a windows driver developed before any other OS, with a wifi printer being one of the exceptions, and yet, it is highly likely that the windows driver and app for the printer provides MUCH better control of printing and other various tasks.

However, I have accumulated many years worth of software and newer versions of windows don't have problems running most of it. None was the Microsoft OEM model of "buy for one pc and that's all you ever get to use it on", rather the license was for that version of the software forever, maybe upgrades too.

For example can you network scan to your phone from the printer? Maybe you can, haven't kept up with phone app capabilities on newer printers, but I am very fond of that feature on a PC with my AIO printer.

It reads very much like you were just desperate to list many things your phone is terrible at. For example, it's a terrible clock, can't be displaying large numbers on screen while using for something else. It's a terrible flashlight, terrible alarm, terrible stopwatch, terrible music in car (always using it means perpetual charging burden), terrible shopping experience.

There is no question that I'm far more productive on a a PC when the task is something both will do, and I don't just mean compared to my use of a phone but also your use of a phone. Can I do it on a phone? Sure, and I can use a brick to pound nails instead of a hammer, but that doesn't make it the best tool for the job.

There are two good reasons for minimalism in computing:

Too poor to afford both.
Live in van down by river, or in woods with no power like Cheez, so space is at a premium.

Otherwise, the only thing a phone is best at is making phone calls or texts, or portable use where you need it to be portable and accept the concessions in every other way besides being portable, like not having a larger screen, poor little keyboard or no mouse or great hassle hauling those around too, etc.

If using only a phone makes you happy, that's the most important thing. It would make me very unhappy and it's not just some kind of an adjustment period. Rather I recognize the value of using the right tool for the job. Sometimes that's a phone. Often it is not.
 
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lakedude

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Mar 14, 2009
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There is no question that I'm far more productive on a a PC when the task is something both will do, and I don't just mean compared to my use of a phone but also your use of a phone.
Ok exactly what are you talking about here? I fully admit a PC will run circles around a phone for computationally intensive tasks, however once you hook up a DeX, keyboard, monitor and mouse to your phone it works exactly like a computer because it is a computer. There is a learning curve, just like using another OS like Linux on a PC is a learning curve but the phone works great, seriously.

What can you do 3x faster on a PC and why?
 

lakedude

Platinum Member
Mar 14, 2009
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It reads very much like you were just desperate to list many things your phone is terrible at. For example, it's a terrible clock, can't be displaying large numbers on screen while using for something else. It's a terrible flashlight, terrible alarm, terrible stopwatch, terrible music in car (always using it means perpetual charging burden), terrible shopping experience.
I don't know where you are getting any of this. A phone is one of the very best timekeepers you can buy. I've got Atomic clocks that keep perfect time but only when they can get a signal from Colorado. They fail every stinking time change, meanwhile the phones all keep perfect time automatically.

My car has a USB thingy that charges the phone so I can use maps or play music all day long. Not sure what you are doing wrong there.

Shopping is exactly the same as it would be with a PC, EXACTLY. Where are you getting this? You have a mobile or a PC option in the browser.

I use the alarm set for different times each day, easily programmable on the phone. Best alarm I've ever had. Program the sound you want, keeps perfect time, has a battery backup if power goes out. How can you beat this?

A phone is not a great flashlight but it is right there so very handy and will give you enough light to find your real flashlight in a power outage. I don't imagine you will be firing up your laptop for this purpose...
 
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killster1

Diamond Member
Mar 15, 2007
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I can counter with the opposite question, what exactly do you think you need a phone for besides mobile talk, text, and light internet?

When I mentioned software, I meant software, not drivers. This in itself is a forte of a PC, that practically any hardware is going to be targeted at windows and if any driver is needed then it is a windows driver developed before any other OS, with a wifi printer being one of the exceptions, and yet, it is highly likely that the windows driver and app for the printer provides MUCH better control of printing and other various tasks.

However, I have accumulated many years worth of software and newer versions of windows don't have problems running most of it. None was the Microsoft OEM model of "buy for one pc and that's all you ever get to use it on", rather the license was for that version of the software forever, maybe upgrades too.

For example can you network scan to your phone from the printer? Maybe you can, haven't kept up with phone app capabilities on newer printers, but I am very fond of that feature on a PC with my AIO printer.

It reads very much like you were just desperate to list many things your phone is terrible at. For example, it's a terrible clock, can't be displaying large numbers on screen while using for something else. It's a terrible flashlight, terrible alarm, terrible stopwatch, terrible music in car (always using it means perpetual charging burden), terrible shopping experience.

There is no question that I'm far more productive on a a PC when the task is something both will do, and I don't just mean compared to my use of a phone but also your use of a phone. Can I do it on a phone? Sure, and I can use a brick to pound nails instead of a hammer, but that doesn't make it the best tool for the job.

There are two good reasons for minimalism in computing:

Too poor to afford both.
Live in van down by river, or in woods with no power like Cheez, so space is at a premium.

Otherwise, the only thing a phone is best at is making phone calls or texts, or portable use where you need it to be portable and accept the concessions in every other way besides being portable, like not having a larger screen, poor little keyboard or no mouse or great hassle hauling those around too, etc.

If using only a phone makes you happy, that's the most important thing. It would make me very unhappy and it's not just some kind of an adjustment period. Rather I recognize the value of using the right tool for the job. Sometimes that's a phone. Often it is not.
just curious what kinda phone you use? not a good flashlight? terrible alarm and stop watch? wow i use mine for a alarm everyday maybe once i had a issue of it dying in the night (my own fault)

lakedude.. as far as using a phone for your pc, just standard apps would be annoying, example, you buy a new memory card and want to test it for errors etc, how do you do that with your phone pc? you want to download some files from usenet automatically, are there android apps to do that? Will most of the apps you need / require cost money if you use android for your pc os? now if galaxy s10 or s20 ran windows id prob give it another go, for now i just use nuc's that are pretty fast for about 300.
 

mindless1

Diamond Member
Aug 11, 2001
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just curious what kinda phone you use? not a good flashlight? terrible alarm and stop watch? wow i use mine for a alarm everyday maybe once i had a issue of it dying in the night (my own fault)
You seem to be misunderstanding. The problem is not which phone. They are all terrible at it because you have one screen and interface, trying to multitask that instead of separate purpose specific devices.

Flashlight, it's horrific as a flashlight, beaten by even a modern 1 x AAA, let alone an 18650 based light that's roughly 50X brighter.

I can use my phone to talk to people WHILE I look over at my clock to see what time it is, AND use a flashlight, and even dance a jig around a sombrero if I cared to, all while also using my desktop computer instead of pretending it is possible to do all this at once with a phone. Granted, some people are linear thinkers and can't see more than one thing to do at a time but I can. Some people are just barely able to do anything and their phone is not their bottleneck.

It all comes back to the brick vs nail argument. Yes you can pound a nail with a brick, but it would be ridiculous if you own a hammer. A phone is great for all it can do, but pretty much sucks at any particular task besides smallest form factor possible computing, ironically even making phone calls now that they are big screened slabs opposed to the old flip phones which were ergonomic and effortless for the purpose. They are now the best device to send texts through a cellular network, and a few other niche things that most people don't use them for.

Why go suffer through extra steps and worse UI/ all to pretend that it's wonderful what it can do? It's far more wonderful NOT to have to rely on a phone to do everything, to instead have devices perfected over decades to be best at what they do.

Another analogy: Spork. Great that it can do more than one thing, and more portable, but sucks to have to use one on a regular basis instead of a normal spoon and fork.
 
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lakedude

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you buy a new memory card and want to test it for errors etc, how do you do that with your phone pc?
Yeah, obviouisly you are not going to check PC memory on a phone. I don't expect your NUCs are much good at that, are they? My PC is old enough now I'm sure there is a new memory standard so I'll not be checking any RAM even with my PC. Of course if you are phone centric you don't care so much about PC memory.

I wouldn't know how to automatically DL files from usenet with a PC or a phone but the availability of free or cheap Andriod apps is amazing. I'm sure there is an app for that. Maybe one of these:

Screenshot_20210322-002138_Samsung Internet.jpg
 

killster1

Diamond Member
Mar 15, 2007
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Yeah, obviouisly you are not going to check PC memory on a phone. I don't expect your NUCs are much good at that, are they? My PC is old enough now I'm sure there is a new memory standard so I'll not be checking any RAM even with my PC. Of course if you are phone centric you don't care so much about PC memory.

I wouldn't know how to automatically DL files from usenet with a PC or a phone but the availability of free or cheap Andriod apps is amazing. I'm sure there is an app for that. Maybe one of these:

View attachment 41618
LULZ a memory card (what phones use) is pc memory? NOPE! my nucs can read memory cards (go figure any device can.. its just the program to cehck for errors writting verifying that could be a issue tho i have never checked on android for such app)

my point is android apps are FAR FROM FREE constant ads etc, anything that works well is either a spying app already or cost $$.

i feel like the biggest issue is that you need to buy a decent hub, im trying to think of the brand i got but it wasnt cheap i think it was 60-75$ to find with hdmi usbc Ethernet etc.. after you buy the hub you might even need a second hub since all the ports will be full of memory cards mice / keyboards etc. (can you just Bluetooth straight to the phone with full size keyboard? i guess that would free up a usb)
 
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killster1

Diamond Member
Mar 15, 2007
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You seem to be misunderstanding. The problem is not which phone. They are all terrible at it because you have one screen and interface, trying to multitask that instead of separate purpose specific devices.

Flashlight, it's horrific as a flashlight, beaten by even a modern 1 x AAA, let alone an 18650 based light that's roughly 50X brighter.

I can use my phone to talk to people WHILE I look over at my clock to see what time it is, AND use a flashlight, and even dance a jig around a sombrero if I cared to, all while also using my desktop computer instead of pretending it is possible to do all this at once with a phone. Granted, some people are linear thinkers and can't see more than one thing to do at a time but I can. Some people are just barely able to do anything and their phone is not their bottleneck.

It all comes back to the brick vs nail argument. Yes you can pound a nail with a brick, but it would be ridiculous if you own a hammer. A phone is great for all it can do, but pretty much sucks at any particular task besides smallest form factor possible computing, ironically even making phone calls now that they are big screened slabs opposed to the old flip phones which were ergonomic and effortless for the purpose. They are now the best device to send texts through a cellular network, and a few other niche things that most people don't use them for.

Why go suffer through extra steps and worse UI/ all to pretend that it's wonderful what it can do? It's far more wonderful NOT to have to rely on a phone to do everything, to instead have devices perfected over decades to be best at what they do.

Another analogy: Spork. Great that it can do more than one thing, and more portable, but sucks to have to use one on a regular basis instead of a normal spoon and fork.
you are serious? you need flashlights and clocks while you chat away on the phone? thats funny because i never have and if i did i dont see why my phone couldnt use the flashlight while dialing a call on speakerphone. you ashamed of your phone? come on tell us what you got.. a 18650 flashlight is 50x brighter? lulz is this comedy?
your desk computer doesn't have a phone or flashlight so... i don't see how those extra features even come into play.

im the type of person who does indeed use what ever i have handy to hammer a nail. maybe i own 7 diff types of hammers and still i use a wrench to do so. If you need to put a nail through a sticky note do you need a mini sledge or will just the force of your fingers pushing from the other side work :p
i also use sporks / plastic utensils, i could bring some fancy plastic to work but instead i just use the convenient disposable ones. after all im not a king that requires gold dinner wear.
best way to send text through cellular network is still going to be your super computer pc send a email to the phone number..
 

lakedude

Platinum Member
Mar 14, 2009
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I can use my phone to talk to people WHILE I look over at my clock to see what time it is, AND use a flashlight, and even dance a jig around a sombrero if I cared to, all while also using my desktop computer instead of pretending it is possible to do all this at once with a phone.
All this is every bit as possible with a phone as a computer. The phone in the DeX will do the job the computer does. Please look at the screenshot I'm uploading, it is from my phone, not a "real" computer yet look at all that is possible. Time is always displayed in the lower right hand corner, a whole lot like it would be on a computer.

Screenshot_20210322-004054_Samsung Internet.jpg


Yeah a phone makes for a lousy flashlight, but it makes for a better flashlight than a computer does, and is darn handy sometimes because the phone tends to be close by, unlike lanterns and flashlights which you might not carry with you everywhere you go.

Oh and yeah my real camera is better then the phone's camera but the phone is right there and can upload a picture in seconds. To upload from the real camera I gotta pull the SD card, fire up a computer that has an SD card slot, copy the file, and then uploaded it. Since it has been a while the PC will want to update and won't startup or shutdown until it updates. On the phone a share icon pops up and whoosh done. The phone lets me schedule updates to happen while I'm sleeping. Windows was more flexable in the past but now, uggg.

I use phones for so many things because they are so good at so many things. I do not limit myself to one phone. Old phones end up doing odd jobs around the house, like white noise generator/nightlight or alarm clock. The old phone that is the alarmclock only needs to be an alarmclock so that app is always pulled up. The only time I'm limited to one phone is when I'm on the road and one phone needs to do a lot of things. Even then the phone is just darn handy.
 

lakedude

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Mar 14, 2009
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Killster when you say memory card are you talking about RAM or like an SD card or USB flash drive? Why are you testing so many of these thing? This may be an instance when you do need a PC but I'm not sure yet.

I have a PC, several in fact. At one point I had 12 doing Folding@Home and BOINC projects. The desktops gave way to laptops which have become as powerful as the desktops were. Now the laptop is giving way to the phone which usually does all I need and when the phone can't handle the job the laptop usually can. Don't really need a desktop at all except to play optical disks. The phone does not seem to be able to play optical disks but maybe I'm missing something.
 

mindless1

Diamond Member
Aug 11, 2001
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It's reading like you are a leech who isn't self-sustaining, rather depends on others and that's the only way to make that work to your benefit.
 
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manly

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Jan 25, 2000
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Strange argument in this thread. Obviously, a "PC" is a better business or productivity tool than a smartphone but mainly because they evolved from vastly different bases many years ago. In many developing countries (such as China), they somewhat skipped over the PC era as a consumer device and went straight to smartphones. I suspect many of us in this forum are long-time PC users so something like DeX seems weird or unnatural.

I don't disagree with the OP; probably at some point in the future people will use one unified device for the vast majority of their computing needs. Some people are already there even though the standard smartphone UX isn't built for productivity. A dedicated PC will always be useful for more intensive tasks such as AAA gaming, engineering, or media processing.
 
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lakedude

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We might still be computer centric if we lived in town but out where we live cable internet was not reliable. Meanwhile there is a cell tower a mile away with a very reliable signal. The DeX solution started out as a backup for the cable internet. When the cable would go down I'd switch us over to the DeX until the cable started working again. We got more and more comfortable with the DeX and several cable outages later we just never went back to the cable. We used DeX and Hotspot exclusively for 2 years, depending entirely on cell phones, saving money by not having cable.

When CV19 hit everybody started working and going to school from home so we needed land based service again but by then fiber was available. The fiber works great but we have never fully switched back to being PC centric because the phones do so much so well.

Other than gaming the only thing I do that requires any grunt is video encoding and the phone can handle that which I find remarkable. At one time I purchased a P4 system with special SSE/AVX type instructions to do video encoding and even then it took hours and was a pain because the video and audio needed to be seperated, crunched seperately by 2 different programs and then (hopefully) joined back together to make a finished product. Now the phone can do it on battery power with just one click. Yes a modern computer can do it faster with Handbrake but for short clips it isn't worth the trouble, especially when the video is already on the phone.
 

lakedude

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To be clear, we have modern Windows 10 based computers. In fact all of us have our own and all of them have SSDs and half decent video cards. My 7 year old has a system with a 1050ti and he uses his all the time. My wife uses hers all day for work but not much else. She really does not need a video card but it is there just in case.

Both my wife and I use our phones more than our computers when we are on our own time. We have a DeX/phone at HDMI 3 or we have a phone controlled Chromecast at HDMI 1 on our 4k TV. The TV is not "smart" by itself and needs a little help. We only hook up a computer (or PS 4) when we need to play an optical disk, like from RedBox.
 

pete6032

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I would like to see this happen with more devices. Looks like Dex is only for Samsung phones correct?
 

lakedude

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I would like to see this happen with more devices. Looks like Dex is only for Samsung phones correct?
Yes, as far as I know DeX only works on Samsung phones S8 and higher. Screen mirroring or other things may be available on other phones but DeX with mutli-window support is a Samsung thing.

I think Windows phones, like phones that run actual Windows rather than Android have a similar ability.
 

lakedude

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Here is a better analogy. A computer is like a 3/4 ton diesel pickup that can tow your 15,000 lb 5th wheel camper twice a year and can also take you to work. The phone is like a Camry, which can not pull 5th wheel but will get you to work in comfort with far less fuel everyday.
 

nOOky

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Not sure my STEAM library would fit on any phone, especially since most don't offer sd card slots anymore. I suppose if one could hook up a portable SSD drive. However I doubt it could also run my games at a reasonable FPS on my current monitor.

Realistically I would not mind using my phone for a casual PC. My biggest gripes about using a phone will never change. I don't want to use such a small display for browsing the web or playing games, and I have large fingers so typing and swiping just sux imho. Reading a book on a phone also sux, perhaps because I am older now and need 1.75 cheaters to even read my Kindle.
 
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Muadib

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Not sure my STEAM library would fit on any phone, especially since most don't offer sd card slots anymore. I suppose if one could hook up a portable SSD drive. However I doubt it could also run my games at a reasonable FPS on my current monitor.

Realistically I would not mind using my phone for a casual PC. My biggest gripes about using a phone will never change. I don't want to use such a small display for browsing the web or playing games, and I have large fingers so typing and swiping just sux imho. Reading a book on a phone also sux, perhaps because I am older now and need 1.75 cheaters to even read my Kindle.
I’m pretty sure that you can increase the font size on your Kindle.
 

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