Most likely, your personal computer or another computer in your household already plays music, and a hard drive holds lots of digital photos. In addition, many of you probably watch hours of video on Hulu, YouTube, Netflix and other Internet streaming services. People are simply becoming more and more “tech saavy” these days. So, there is a need to access your computers from anywhere.
In computing, virtual network computing (VNC) is a graphical desktop sharing system designed to remotely control another computer. It transmits the keyboard and mouse events from one computer to another, relaying the graphical screen updates back in the other direction, over a network. In other words, you can use your iPad to control your PCs or your Macs, exactly like if you were actually sitting in front of them.
In this review, we examine VNC Viewer, which enables you to take remote control of a computer (running VNC-compatible Server technology) from your iPad. You can view the desktop, run applications, change settings, and access data.
VNC Viewer works just like any other iPad application. It lets you use the standard drag, touch and tap motions to take care of tasks, and it also provides the on-screen keyboard. You can pinch to zoom in to a specific area, or out to see the whole picture. It is very intuitive.
For this review, we decided to use the VNC Viewer syncing software for Windows operating system. We ran it on Windows XP and Windows 7 machines. The iPad app was very stable, and we were able to access and control the computers without any major issues. Initially, our Windows XP machine was setup for a high-resolution display, which made it a bit tedious at times while controlling the computer from VNC Viewer. However, the app was very stable and we were able to run Windows apps, move files, create folders and do other things. Connecting to the Windows 7 machine was also a good experience.
As for the overall app quality, the remote computer desktop previews looked as good as the real computers, especially over WiFi. It takes a little practice to get used to controlling the mouse control provided to you by the app. You will need to grab the mouse cursor to move it around, a behavior slightly different from your traditional iPad apps that let you tap anywhere. Tap once to click, tap twice to double-click, double-finger-tap to do a right-click, pinch to zoom in and out.
Keep in mind that zooming capabilities are ideal, especially if the screen resolution of your remote computer is much higher than the iPad’s. The use of the iPad virtual keyboard is straightforward, and the screen automatically adjusts itself when the keyboard shows up, so the keyboard does not get in the way.
What about the app responsiveness? Over WiFi, you may notice some minor lags, especially if your home Internet connection is not fast, but nothing major that would prevent you from using the app to control your remote computer. Over 3G, you will notice the app will behave much slower, but that can be attributed to the lower speed and the increased latency of the 3G network. The 3G connection works, however, you may want to restrict your use of 3G to basic tasks, and try to find a WiFi hotspot for more complex tasks.
Finally, RealVNC recommends that you download the VNC Enterprise Edition of their syncing software to your computer(s) because that version is more robust, secure, and provides high-performance connections. The Enterprise version indeed was very stable while we used it. The only problem we have is the price tag associated with it. The Enterprise Edition syncing software will cost you an additional US$50 on top of the US$9.99 price tag you pay for the iPad app.
What we liked: We tried this app in different Windows machines and it was very stable. The app is easy to use and does not require any major setup process.
What we didn’t like: Again, the price tag for the enterprise edition syncing software (US$50) is a bit pricey.
To buy or not to buy: If you need to be able to remotely access your computers while on the go, this is a good option.
- App Name: VNC Viewer
- Version Reviewed: 1.2.39970
- Developer: RealVNC
- Price: $9.99