Splashtop Remote Desktop [rating: 3.5/5]
If you are a Mac user (and have more than one computer) you will undoubtedly be familiar with Screen Sharing between machines. In a nutshell that is what Splashtop Remote Desktop does. Except in this case it is for connecting your PC to your iPad so you can use your iPad as a remote viewer and controller for your PC. Splashtop Remote Desktop for iPad works with Windows 7, Vista and XP.
Installation and setup of Splashtop Remote Desktop is straight forward. You download the app from the App Store to your iPad, and also download a client app from the developer’s (DeviceVM) web site. Once that second app is installed on the PC you should be able to connect from your iPad to the PC.
One feature which is going to make you either love or hate Splashtop is the way it shrinks your PC desktop to the resolution of your iPad’s screen. This means that you have a one to one pixel relationship between what goes on your iPad screen and the Windows desktop. 1024×768 may be a little small for many PC desktops these days. And certainly most older devices with a screen of that size are going to have some problems with the network traffic required to make a remote viewing app really zippy to use.
Personally I’d like to see an option in one of these kinds of apps that allows you to pinch zoom, or scroll around an oversized desktop. But practically most people will use this app the way that DeviceVM intend. And it is both fun, and a little unnerving to such a stalwart iOS / OS X user as myself to see Windows invade your iPad’s display literally from corner to corner!
You are basically viewing, and interacting with an image of your PC’s screen so you can practically do anything on your iPad now that you can on your PC. This includes word-processing, Web viewing, playing games, videos and even (shock horror) using Flash.
Unfortunately, even on my fairly beefy development PC there was still lag with video and gaming, and overall the usual lag you get with any network based remote viewing client affected the UI responsiveness slightly. But Splashtop is certainly usable. And better than quite a few of its rivals overall in the speed department. Certainly the ones I have tested to date.
I did try getting Splashtop to work with my copy of Parallels 4 on my development 17″ Unibody MacBook Pro, but the PC side did not want to play reliably. That would have been fun! And it may be that it is a problem in my version of Parallels, which is fairly old now.
The developers of Splashtop have put a fair amount of work into making the UI easy to use. There is a nice hint sheet which shows how to use some of the gestures you will be required to learn to mimic mouse controls via your iPad touch screen. Remember that in order to move a mouse around you are actually already “clicking” on the screen as far as iOS is concerned. DeviceVM have dealt with that adequately with various easy to remember gestures for tapping, holding and scrolling and so on.
DeviceVM have also added some special keyboard functions to the iPad’s on screen keyboard to add a few other essential controls that you need in order to fly a PC this way. But they could add more. My case is rather extreme as I am a developer. But I did have problems working in some of my usual software developing tools on my PC, via my iPad from my sofa.
It is certainly worth checking out the competition and then making a decision when choosing a Remote Desktop app. But this one does what it says on the box.
At $6.99 Splashtop Remote Desktop is a very fair price at the moment but, with the app slated to rise to $19.99 I would certainly advise people to shop around on this one at that point. Check features and choose the best one for you.
If the developers can address some of the speed issues with video and gaming, and provide a few more keyboard commands for more esoteric applications then it could stand out from the rest as an app of choice for this particular use.
- Simple to setup.
- Nicely thought out touch gestures.
- Ui is neat and clean.
- Some lag on User Interface updates.
- Some lag on video.
Price: $6.99 (App Store)
Released:Aug 27, 2010
Size: 5.6 MB
© 2010 DeviceVM, Inc.
Requirements:Compatible with iPad. Requires iPhone OS 3.2 or later.