The M7 had all those features too, but the more obscure ones like DeX, Office 365, and remote terminal worked so poorly that they were barely worth using.
This time around, I’m happy to say that all those features work much, much better.
I’m writing this paragraph in my MacBook using my M8’s external terminal function, and while the experience isn’t nearly as good as connecting the MacBook directly to the display via a USB-C cable, it isn’t. terrible†
You could work this way in the unlikely event that you should. For example, if it was so cold downstairs that you didn’t even want to run downstairs, grab your laptop and take it upstairs.
The MacBook’s screen, beaming to my M8 over Wi-Fi, isn’t nearly as sharp as it is on a direct connection, but the MacBook itself is quite responsive to the mouse and keyboard, perhaps because it just happens to be on the same network, only in a much colder room.
My Microsoft Surface Laptop, also down in the cold, should respond better, but oddly enough, not. The text is not as sharp and the mouse and keyboard have more delay.
Whether you can leave your PC in the office and work on it at home with the M8’s remote terminal feature is a mystery. It depends on your business security.
Similarly improved compared to the M7 is the Office 356 feature of the M8, which only requires a Wi-Fi connection, a mouse and a keyboard. Again, it’s good enough if you find yourself stuck without a phone or PC, but not so good that you’d use it as your first choice. There’s still a bit of keyboard lag, but it’s not nearly as bad as on the M7.
If you’ve diligently read Digital Life, it may occur to you that the Samsung Smart Display M8 looks a lot like the Apple Studio Display we tested a few weeks ago. Like the Studio, it has speakers, a webcam and microphone, meaning all you need to do is plug in your laptop to create a desktop setup.
The difference is that the $1199 Samsung wants for the M8 is an absolute steal compared to the $2499 to $3599 Apple is charging for the Studio Display, especially since the M8 is significantly larger and has many more features.
(The Studio Display has a better, sharper screen and much better speakers, but otherwise we prefer the Samsung Smart Monitor M8 in just about every way. The remote-controlled TV feature alone makes it a better choice if you live in a small space, as I suppose I’ll be all winter, or if you’re looking for a multi-purpose appliance for your beach cottage or, more appropriately given the weather, your ski chalet.)
As with the Apple Studio, the M8’s webcam is arguably the weakest part of the whole package, ranging from much worse to much better than the Studio webcam, depending on what laptop and apps you’re using.
Linked to our MacBook (directly, this time: I ran down to get it), the webcam on the M8 is pretty awful on Google Meet and doesn’t work at all in Zoom or in native MacOS apps like Photobooth. Paired with our Surface Studio laptop (grasped together so as not to lose too much body heat), the webcam is great on Google Meet, but lousy on apps like Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
It’s weird I must say, although it might be something that could be easily remedied, maybe by Samsung supplying better drivers to Apple and Microsoft to get the most out of their camera.
A big difference between the two screens is that Apple has built the power supply into the screen while the Samsung has an external power supply.
I’m not normally a fan of the latter, but I have to say I have a good feeling about my M8’s power supply. A warm feeling, you could say. With my shoes off and my toes wrapped around them, the only thing standing between me is working in the attic or having to work from bed.
SAMSUNG SMART MONITOR M8
I like this Cheaper, bigger and more complete than an Apple Studio Display.
Dislikes Webcam works poorly or not at all in some video apps.