The popular LogMeIn service gives you remote desktop control of your PC via a web browser.
LogMeIn’s website uses Java – a plug-in that’s unavailable on Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch. Thankfully, the service can now be accessed from these devices using Ignition. You still need a LogMeIn account, but a basic one is free. Log into your account via Ignition and select the required PC as usual. LogMeIn can remote-control PCs running Windows XP or Vista or Mac OS X.
PC monitors have a far higher resolution than the iPhone’s 480×320 pixel screen, but magnification can be adjusted using the usual zoom gesture. If the remote computer has multiple monitors, you can easily switch between them by shaking the iPhone.
There are gestures for actions such as scrolling through windows and right-clicking. Most commands also have toolbar buttons. By default, the cursor remains stationary while the rest of the desktop moves with your finger. It feels odd at first, but it’s accurate and makes efficient use of the small screen. The onscreen keyboard includes Fn keys and dedicated keys for short cuts such as Alt-Tab. A dedicated text entry box and a menu-based application switcher would have been useful, though.
Controlling a remote PC from an iPhone via a WiFi connection felt more sluggish than when we carried out the same test using LogMeIn on a laptop. Lowering the target computer’s screen resolution and colour depth can help improve things. Still, it’s generally responsive enough for the sort of tasks you’d want to undertake on such a small display.
LogMeIn Ignition is easy to set up. Many similar programs such as Mocha VNC require you to run a VNC server on the remote PC. They may be cheaper, but setup is trickier. Despite its price and rough interface edges, Ignition is ideal for those wanting remote desktop capabilities from an iPhone or iPod Touch.