tourism office Samsung’s vision for smart displays is interesting. The company suggests you turn off your computer and instead use a Bluetooth input device to drive a display baked into your browser and Office 365. If you really want a computer, you can remotely connect your device to a PC or Mac.
When you’re done, the M8’s 32-inch smart monitor includes the interface of your Samsung smart TV, allowing you to install apps that connect you to a host of streaming services.
This device primarily functions as an entertainment machine. The Samsung Tizen-based Smart TV environment is intuitive, smooth and fast. The M8’s 3840 x 2160 screen is large, bright, easy to read, and handles accurate color tones and fast image changes well.
The speakers are decent, as you’d expect for a screen that’s only 22mm deep. Therefore, Bluetooth speakers are an option that many people choose to add.
Some may have missed having a TV tuner, but I was able to find an app for a free local station and streaming service. The Samsung remote is perfectly fine, and the inclusion of USB-C charging for the battery is a nice touch.
Therefore, the M8 serves as a television alternative in small rooms. For example, I can imagine it would work really well in a teenager’s bedroom, so they can watch videos from their bed instead of curling up on their laptop.
But this imaginary teenager couldn’t use the M8 for much of his work. no one can.
The Office 365 integration that Samsung promised is pretty straightforward. You’ll see a link to a web app version of Microsoft’s popular productivity suite, and access to cloud storage if you have an account. Each Office application opens instantly in a full-screen browser tab. However, the Samsung-supplied browser is said to be incompatible with Teams, and the built-in webcam isn’t very useful.
While it’s possible to exit full-screen mode and display web apps as tabs, the device doesn’t offer a desktop metaphor or anything resembling a desktop user experience. For example, it is difficult to switch between applications.
Instead, once you exit the browser tab, the device presents a user interface designed to work with a remote control. You’ll have to fiddle around with the giant pointer or go back to the remote to get anything done.
Samsung M8 Smart Screen (Click to enlarge)
The device offers an opportunity to add other workspaces, so I did that by signing in to my Google account. Again, the browser protested that it was not designed to handle the web application that provided it.
Connecting a remote to a computer was easy enough, but the performance wasn’t straightforward enough to make it a good choice for everyday use.
So I can imagine the M8 could be useful for emergency access to documents that need fixing before I go to work tomorrow, but other than that it’s not very useful.
Travel with a mobile device
In the past few weeks I have been immersed in some real sights. Catch other vultures on a trip to the US for VMware’s Explore gabfest. I took the Dell C1422H portable monitor with me.
This device is a 14 inch HD LCD monitor with USB-C connection. It weighs 590 grams and comes in a felt bag. About the size of a laptop, it fits into a padded slot in a messenger bag along with a ThinkPad without the need for pushing or shoving.
I’ve found the monitor to be a good choice for those rare moments on my travels when I have to work non-stop for hours.
It sits by the desk in my hotel room, and the balcony doubles as a mouse pad.
Dell Laptop Monitors (click to enlarge)
I am above average height and am at risk of a sore neck after working on my laptop all day. The extra screen allowed me to lean back, which made it more physically comfortable. Knowing that the machine stand is stable in both the horizontal and vertical directions brings the window closer to a line of sight, which I really appreciate.
The Dell screen costs $320, which is $9 less than Apple’s most basic iPad and $29 less than Samsung’s cheapest Galaxy Tab S8. Both tablets are smaller than portable displays, but they can extend the screen of your Mac or PC. They are probably used more annually than dedicated portable monitors.
If I had spent my own money, I probably would have bought a tablet. But for those who commute for work and don’t mind a little bulkiness in their pockets, I’d recommend that your boss pay for this portable monitor wherever you go in the name of improving ergonomics.
The M8 was also underwhelming in other ways. Writing Desktop Tourism means I’ve connected a lot of computers to a lot of monitors this year. The M8 couldn’t detect my flagship ThinkPad with HDMI. This is the first obstacle I encountered.
The screen has a pair of USB-C ports, but only one can handle video, and since the port is behind the stand on the back of the device, you won’t be able to see the small slide that reveals it. Almost impossible yes, I can read the manual, but the M8 is a monitor, a class of devices where it’s reasonable to assume it’s plug and play.
The USB-C cable that Samsung supplied with the monitor is too long, making it difficult to arrange a desk around the M8. Whether it was the sacrifice of Samsung being a bit cheaper, the weirdness of the USB-C cable, or both, it’s hard to say. But it and the monitor can’t automatically detect the different Macs you have connected.
I also found it strange that shutting down or shutting down the connected laptop doesn’t shut down the M8. Instead, the screen displays a splash screen with a countdown to enter Smart TV mode. This can only be fixed by looking for the remote control and turning off the screen.
Once I realized the M8’s flaws, which meant ignoring its role as a PC alternative, I had the pleasure of putting up with it. We’ve found that screens with Smart TV interfaces can blur the lines between work and play in a fun and sharp way, removing your computer as a distraction while watching videos.
But when you add Office 365 and try to be smart, the whole package struggles to live up to its promise of being smart. A personality change would be more satisfying than this nasty device that tries to add productivity features. Samsung should also drop the price of this device by $700. Because that amount can cover the cost of a decent screen When Low cost smart TV. ®