One of my reasons for getting an iPad was to remotely control a PC somthing I have done before using programs like TightVNC and a notebook computer. My purpose is to control the PC we have in the balcony of our auditorium at church which runs our presentation software during church’s worship services. Carrying my notebook to the lectern in church on Sundays is not ideal. However, the iPad is small enough to be unobtrusive and therefore the perfect device for this scenario — when paired with the right software like LogMeIn Ignition.
I also wanted to control a media center PC hooked up the LCD TV. The iPad becomes a large remote control. In that case having a keyboard and mouse hooked up, even wirelessly, is again not ideal. The iPad is just the right form factor for this.
I tried a couple of programs that were not that satisfying. The first was Connect to PC (available in the app store for $4.99). While it is the least expensive of the three I tried, it was hardest to get going and has supports the fewest environments.
The second one I tried was Desktop Connect (available in the app store for $11.99). It was also complicated and has a strange system of controlling the mouse. When I clicked on the support link in the app store it took me to one of those add-filled pages for registered but unused domains.
So I decided to get the granddaddy of iPad remote desktop apps LogMeIn Ignition (available in the app store for $29.99). Despite the cost, I am glad I did. It is as simple as installing the app, setting up an account and installing the desktop application on all the computers you want to use. Login to your account via the client application on each computer and you are ready to go. They just run in the system tray.
LogMeIn’s Helpful Tips Show Up When Logging Into a Computer
After logging in on the iPad, there is a list of computers which are running the LogMeIn client. You don’t have to configure the computers or your router to access them. They just show up. Tap the name of the computer you wish to control and you are able to log in. The first time you will have to give the PC user name and password, if it has one and it should. You can save the credentials if you want to or re-enter them each time. Once you have logged into the computer you will see a help screen with tips on how to use the application. This is indeed helpful. Read the hints first. They will tell you how to zoom by pinching, get a right click by tapping with two fingers, and move between multiple monitors by shaking the iPad, among others. Click the green button and you are ready to go. You can now control the system as if you were sitting at the computer.
LogMeIn Ignition is not perfect. It takes getting used to controlling the mouse. I sometimes finding myself tapping on things that I want to click on instead of moving the mouse pointer over the item first and then tapping. Certain keys or key combinations are impossible. For example, there is no Windows key and you cannot use CTRL+Click or SHIFT+Click to select multiple items. A work around for this is to go into Windows Explorer and click Tools, Folder Options and then the View tab. Find the item in the list that says, Use check boxes to select itemsâ€. When you do, mousing over an item in Windows Explorer boxes or the Desktop will have a little check box. Put a check mark in it to select it. It stays selected until you remove the check.
You will have to have a LogMeIn Pro or LogMeIn Free account set up on the PC that you want to control. If you want to be able to transfer files, print your iPad files remotely, share your desktop or use the other advanced features you will have to pay for the Pro account. The yearly fee for just one PC is $69.95. The more computers you want to use it with the less it costs per PC. It can add up if you need these advanced features on a few computers. The only ones I really see myself wanting is printing from my iPad and moving files from a PC to the iPad. There are actually cheaper or free solutions for both of those. Look for PrintCentral or GoodReader for printing and viewing files and if you want to transfer files to your iPad look for DropBox. I don’t think that the Pro version is necessary for my use. To see a list of the features in the various accounts, click the comparison chart above.
- Simple setup
- Nearly instant response
- Little lag time
- Easily control your other computers
- Both Mac and PC compatible
- Most expensive of these kinds of apps
- Pro features are even more expensive
- Requires an application installation on each computer you want to control
- Awkward controls of moue
- Some key combinations not possible