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Remote Desktop Apps Overview and Reviews

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I hope everyone had a great week – I’ve been working hard the last few days on this article and hope that lots of you find it useful, particularly those of you in our forum who asked about Remote Desktop Apps. Thanks to everyone
who entered to win the RocketTaxi App — check the end of this post for the winner!

_____________________________________

Upon my recent upgrade to firmware 2.2 I realized I’d lost the use of my most-favorite App ever, Touchpad Pro. I needed to find a Remote Desktop or VNC App to replace it. Many people use Remote Desktops for different reasons, perhaps you want to log into your work machine from home, perhaps you want, like me, to have your TV set up as a second monitor and be able to control your movies from the living room, or maybe you’re a system admin who needs to log into remote servers. Either way, there’s a Remote Desktop App out there for everyone.

Which Remote Desktop Software is best? Which one is easiest to use? Which one will do the thing I need it to do? I’ve sifted through the most popular Apps on iTunes and pulled out four which stand above the rest. Each is unique, and I’ve put together this reference guide, and review, for those wondering about which Remote Desktop App they should get.

Please do note, that I have not listed or gone into deep detail about the specific features for each App, that is what their iTunes Page is for, these are just my impressions on overall performance and ease of use.

Before I get into the specifics I want to clarify that for brevity’s sake I’ve selected only Full Display Remote Desktop Apps. There are several Apps that offer ‘Remote Control’ of certain aspects of your computer, and depending on what you plan to use this for (such as my Second Monitor/TV viewing example above) they might be a better option for you. However  if you want to view and control your computer desktop from your iPhone, check out the Apps Below:

For the Tech Savvy

winadmin

WinAdmin (on iTunes)
Cost:  $11.99

Unlike most Remote Desktop Apps for the iPhone WinAdmin does not use VNC. It connects to the Remote Desktop Sharing ability built in to most (but not all) Windows versions. Because I was so personally used to using the VNC service it took me a while to set up my computer properly to allow WinAdmin to connect. Once you log in, using your Windows User Account, your machine is completely taken over by the App.

I will also come to find that each of the Remote Desktop Apps I tried out interacts with your desktop in a completly different way. Once you have your desktop up on your iPhone, you do not have a pointer or cursor, but rather just tap where you wish to click. You navigate around your desktop as you would a website. Fairly simple. I never once had a problem with the screen resolution giving me a memory error (as sometimes happens with other Remote Desktop Apps).

The user reviews on iTunes are for the most part very positive, and for good reason. This App absolutly does exactly what it sets out to do.

Pros:
Very easy to use, once connected.
Less expensive than other Apps.
No additional Software needed to download

Cons:
Mac OS not supported.
Doesn’t allow for dual-monitors.
Need knowledge of Windows RDP, and XP Home needs hacking to function with this App.

For the Mac (and Windows) User

jaadu

Jaadu VNC (on iTunes)
Cost: $24.99

One of the most popular Remote Desktop Apps on iTunes, and for a very good reason. Simple set up and usability across both Windows and OS X. Also, it is by the same author as my beloved TouchPad Pro App. I do have  a PC and an iBook so I was very interested in trying this software out on both. Connection to my PC was spotty, but did work well once connected. Connection to my iBook was automatic! Once I turned Sharing On the server list auto populated in the App and connected no problem.

One reason I prefer VNC Apps over RDP ones is that I can maintain usability of my computer while my iPhone is connected – which is great for when you want to connect to someone’s computer to help them fix something.

The way Jaadu VNC interacts with your desktop is a bit strange,  but once you get used to it it’s actually quite nice. When you drag your finger to the right, the page actually moves to the right, and your cursor follows you a few cm away from your finger (meaning you can actually see what you’re clicking on).  And it’s worth noting that Jaadu VNC supports Dual Monitors. Overall I was impressed with Jaadu as a simple solution for the multi-OS computer user, and recommend it even if you only have one computer.

Pros:
Windows & Mac Support
Clean and easy to use Interface
Supports Dual Monitors

Cons:
Additional Software Required, VNC (it’s free)
Some knowledge of local networking (IPs) required.
More Expensive

For the non-Tech Savvy (aka For Everyone)

logmein

LogMeIn Ignition (on iTunes)
Cost: $29.99

This remote desktop App probably impressed me the most. LogMeIn is a company completely dedicated to making Remote Desktop use available and easy to use for the public. The iPhone App is simply an extension of their already solid business of Remote Desktop services. Using neither VNC nor Windows RDP, their own software is easily installed on either Windows or Mac. You simply log into your account at logmein.com and add your computers, run the LogMeIn client, and can connect to your computers via their website (and of course – from your iPhone App) anywhere, anytime.

This is the slogan of most Remote Desktop software companies, but LogMeIn really means it. Set up takes exactly zero knowledge of networks, IPs, Ports, etc. Honestly it’s as simple as setting up an email address. Computer can still be used, while being Remote Controlled however dual monitors not supported (or at least, didn’t work for me) and high resolutions do cause errors (mine is set at 1280×1024 and I got a warning!).  This product will appeal to the majority of computer users, from IT professionals to my mom.

Pros:
Easy, Easy, Easy to set up & use.
Works on both Windows & Mac.
Use Remote Desktop from logmein.com (for anywhere, anytime).

Cons:
Cost – highest priced Remote Desktop App
High resolution/Dual Monitors not supported.

For the K.I.S.S Crowd (aka The Free App)

mochavnc

Mocha VNC Lite (on iTunes)
Cost: Free

I thought it would not be fair if I made an entire article devoted to Remote Desktop Apps and didn’t include a freebie in the mix. This is actually the first VNC software I downloaded to my iPhone after my 2.2 install. It’s the simplest Full-Display Remote Desktop App you’ll find. It offers all your point-and-clickability and a keyboard, and that’s it.

Obviously you’ll need to have a VNC server in place on your computer (TightVNC, realVNC, whatever you like) and simply connect to the proper IP.  If you’re just logging in to check on that current download, helping someone else with a computer problem, or looking to control iTunes, this will work for you. It supports dual monitors, but again, has issues with higher resolutions. It’s free — try it out, who knows, it might be right for you! Or, you could always check out the full Mocha VNC app for $5.99 (on iTunes) which offers more features (like Control/Alt keys and Scroll Wheel).

Pros:
Free
Fairly easy to use
Works with both PC & Mac

Cons:
Lacking many features (like, say every button besides iPhone default keyboard)
High resolutions memory errors
More features cost money.

So that’s my rundown on a few of the most popular Remote Desktop Applications available for the iPhone.  Obviously I recommend each of these for different purposes – you really need to find the program that suits your needs. As for me, after spending two days neck-deep in these applications I realized that I don’t personally don’t need a full-fledged Remote Desktop — for my purposes, I needs something like a remote touchpad, or remote. I guess I’ll have to start the search all over again!

You can join the discussion about these and other Remote Desktop Apps in this thread on our forum. I’d love to hear what you think!

And now, I want to extend a great Congrats to @chiskayTO for following me, tweeting me and winning the Free Promo Code for the RocketTaxi App! If you want to keep up to date on what I’m doing, writing, reviewing, eating, etc, feel free to follow me (@ChantelleJoytwt) on Twitter!

Have a great weekend everyone!

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  • Can any of these applications interface with Apple’s “Back to my Mac” feature?

  • Can any of these applications interface with Apple’s “Back to my Mac” feature?

  • Kevkill

    I use Mocha VNC Lite to connect to my server running Ubuntu 8.04 and I love it. The latest update has created the memory errors, before that it actually ran much better. Hopefully there is a fix in the works. I use it all the time to manage my Miro downloads and update the server. I have not found any situations where I miss any additional features that are not included with this app, yet.

    -Kev

  • Kevkill

    I use Mocha VNC Lite to connect to my server running Ubuntu 8.04 and I love it. The latest update has created the memory errors, before that it actually ran much better. Hopefully there is a fix in the works. I use it all the time to manage my Miro downloads and update the server. I have not found any situations where I miss any additional features that are not included with this app, yet.

    -Kev

  • ChantelleJoy

    I have to agree that this is probably the one and only VNC App I’d use if it weren’t for doing the reviews (since it’s free). But my usage is limited – I know there are people out there who need Ctrl-Alt-Del capabilities, etc.

  • ChantelleJoy

    I have to agree that this is probably the one and only VNC App I’d use if it weren’t for doing the reviews (since it’s free). But my usage is limited – I know there are people out there who need Ctrl-Alt-Del capabilities, etc.

  • dashparr

    Thanks for the review. Going to get LogMeIn now. I’ve been looking for an app that I can remotely control my computer using the 3G network. I was pretty disappointed when I found out that I can only log into Jaadu VNC through LAN only (I tried going on 3G and on someone else’s wifi and had no success, although I had a slight suspicion the app wouldn’t work like that beforehand) Like ChantelleJoy said, Jaadu has this auto mouse option (which can be turned off) that allows you to flick your finger and the mouse will fly across the screen. Pretty easy to get used to. I especially like how last night I was in bed and was too lazy to turn off my computer so I grabbed my iPhone logged into Jaadu VNC and shut down the computer remotely. That made the app worthwhile. LOL

    @ChantelleJoy Definitely look into Air Mouse and Snatch. Both work beautifully. Air Mouse is my favourite.

  • dashparr

    Thanks for the review. Going to get LogMeIn now. I’ve been looking for an app that I can remotely control my computer using the 3G network. I was pretty disappointed when I found out that I can only log into Jaadu VNC through LAN only (I tried going on 3G and on someone else’s wifi and had no success, although I had a slight suspicion the app wouldn’t work like that beforehand) Like ChantelleJoy said, Jaadu has this auto mouse option (which can be turned off) that allows you to flick your finger and the mouse will fly across the screen. Pretty easy to get used to. I especially like how last night I was in bed and was too lazy to turn off my computer so I grabbed my iPhone logged into Jaadu VNC and shut down the computer remotely. That made the app worthwhile. LOL

    @ChantelleJoy Definitely look into Air Mouse and Snatch. Both work beautifully. Air Mouse is my favourite.

  • cpenner

    dashparr,

    I have Jaadu VNC, and I have no problems using it on 3G, you just need to set it up for your external IP, rather than your router’s IP…

    and . It also depends on whether you used Jaadu Connect or not, which makes everything much simpler.

    But yea, I just wanted to say that Jaadu VNC is the best I’ve tried, and works on both wi-fi and 3G.

  • cpenner

    dashparr,

    I have Jaadu VNC, and I have no problems using it on 3G, you just need to set it up for your external IP, rather than your router’s IP…

    and . It also depends on whether you used Jaadu Connect or not, which makes everything much simpler.

    But yea, I just wanted to say that Jaadu VNC is the best I’ve tried, and works on both wi-fi and 3G.

  • ChantelleJoy

    Jaadu is definitely a solid App, I’ve already recommended it to a friend who needed something for both his Macs on his iPod Touch.

  • ChantelleJoy

    Jaadu is definitely a solid App, I’ve already recommended it to a friend who needed something for both his Macs on his iPod Touch.

  • ChantelleJoy

    Hey dash – watch those Data Rates eh 😉 Remote Desktop can get quite bandwidth-y.

  • ChantelleJoy

    Jaadu is definitely a solid App, I’ve already recommended it to a friend who needed something for both his Macs on his iPod Touch.

  • ChantelleJoy

    Hey dash – watch those Data Rates eh 😉 Remote Desktop can get quite bandwidth-y.

  • dashparr

    Thanks for comments people! I’ll definitely take another look now.
    @ChantelleJoy with 6GB, how can I go wrong? LOL. Ustream definitely doubled my data usage for sure though.

  • dashparr

    Thanks for comments people! I’ll definitely take another look now.
    @ChantelleJoy with 6GB, how can I go wrong? LOL. Ustream definitely doubled my data usage for sure though.

  • Guest

    Great job! These reviews will help me out on some decisions.

    Thanks 😉

  • Dusty

    Great job! These reviews will help me out on some decisions.

    Thanks 😉

  • Very thorough article! Sounds like you guys love your Remote Desktop Apps!! 😉

  • Very thorough article! Sounds like you guys love your Remote Desktop Apps!! 😉

  • Pingback: Jaadu VNC Review. Remote Desktop made Easy. | iPhone App Girl - iPhone and iPod Touch App Reviews and Opinions()

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