iPad App Review: Splashtop Remote Desktop lets you control your computer from your iPad

June 9, 2011
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The iPad is a great tool and a well-designed piece of technology. There are many things it's good at, such as acting as a digital cookbook, surfing the web, and playing movies and games. However, a tablet will never be able to do everything that a desktop or laptop computer can do. But thanks to apps like Splashtop Remote Desktop, the gap between tablets and computers is slowly closing.

Easy setup
You'll need 2 pieces of software to get Splashtop Remote Desktop up and running. First, you'll need the iPad app, which works with either version of the tablet. Just download and install it like any other app.

Then you'll need to install the streaming program on your computer. The Windows version runs on XP, Vista, and Windows 7; the Mac version runs on OS X 10.6 or higher. No matter what operating system you use, your computer needs at least a 1.6GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM.

Setup is straightforward. When you install the streaming program on your computer, you'll be asked to create a password. When you connect remotely to your computer with the iPad app, you'll be prompted to enter this password. This keeps unwanted guests out of your computer, should your tablet ever get stolen.

The app and streamer work by communicating over your home network. Once you've installed the streamer, the iPad app will automatically discover your computer — simply tap on your computer name to get started!

Simple controls
Once you establish a remote connection, controlling your computer is straightforward. Simple 1-, 2-, and 3-finger touch commands let you easily click, scroll, and zoom the screen. If you're already comfortable navigating on an iPad, these will be very familiar to you. Pop up a virtual keyboard for any typing you need to do.

By default, the streamer program resizes your computer's desktop to be the same resolution as your iPad. You can change this by going into the iPad app and configuring the settings for the computer. You can choose either 800 x 600 or 1024 x 768 (default), or you can use the remote computer's native resolution. If you opt for the latter, you may find yourself zooming in and out more, so we recommend leaving this setting alone and using the default resolution.

Why you want this program
While definitely a robust piece of technology, the iPad still suffers from a few shortcomings, including its lack of Adobe Flash support. Flash has long been a standard on the web, and quite a few websites use it in some way, shape, or form. While many are moving towards HTML5 for videos, many popular sites such as Hulu still only support Flash. We should note that if you are a Hulu Plus subscriber, there is an official app that will let you stream directly to your tablet without using Splashtop.

With Splashtop Remote Desktop, you can enjoy any video (on the web or elsewhere) by simply connecting remotely to your computer and streaming the video straight to your iPad. It transfers all audio by default, as well, giving you a great all-around experience.

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But this app lets you enjoy far more than just video. Because it allows you to quite literally control your computer, you can do anything you would like on your iPad — including playing music, video games, and much more. This video gives you a better idea of what's possible with Splashtop remote.

Nothing is perfect
While this app offers a number of great features, we have noticed a few drawbacks. The overall quality of the remote connection makes the image on your tablet a little blurry. Options to control the image quality are a bit lacking even at the highest settings. We would love to see some higher-quality options.

We should also point out that while Splashtop Remote Desktop does let you remotely control your computer, it officially only works as yet via a local network — not the internet. An experimental feature enables internet access, but in our testing, it was slow, choppy, and virtually unusable. If you absolutely need internet connectivity, we suggest you stick to something like LogMeIn Ignition for now.

A great option
Overall, we think that Splashtop Remote Desktop is a great option if you're looking for a way to remote control your home computer from your iPad, and we give it a solid 4 out of 5 stars. Regularly priced at $4.99 on the App Store, it's available for a limited time for just $1.99.

Post by Jacob Bolm

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