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January 3, 2011

Splashtop Remote Desktop for iPad - a Winner!

Splashtop Remote Desktop for iPad is a terrific little program I just discovered. It brings your computer to your iPad, allowing you to view flash-enabled websites, watch videos and access your files from any of your favourite programs.

There are 2 versions in the App Store - one is free but it is limited to 5 minutes of use at a time. I purchased the full app which was on sale for 99cents. It was super easy to set up - I bought the App and after it installed, I opened it. Instructions were given to go to their website on my computer and download Splashtop Remote Installer (for Windows) A beta version is available for Mac.

After downloading the Installer, a small window pops up which gives you the few details you might need - Status, Settings, Security and Network. I say "might need" because when you go back to your iPad and open Splashtop, it will hunt for your computer(s) and you won't have to do a thing. If for some reason Splashtop doesn't find your computer(s) you can manually add one, using the IP address, port etc provided in the Splashtop Window open on your computer.

My Computer controlled from my iPad
So I set it up. It only took a few minutes and as soon as I opened Splashtop on my iPad, it found my main computer and locked in. It automatically changes your computer viewing settings to match the native iPad settings (don't worry it switches your settings back when you close the program) and you are now operating your computer from your iPad.

I was able to open FTM (my favourite genealogy program) from my iPad. Normally I use GedView which is an iPad app for genealogy. I like GedView but sometimes I want my old familiar FTM in front of me!

I was able to search the FamilySearch beta site which on an iPad is glitchy - it freezes, is extremely slow and basically unusable. But I opened Firefox (also not available for iPad) and within seconds was searching for ancestors with no trouble.

Finally I could view photos on my favourite antique auction sites! Opening IE (remember I'm using the iPad but accessing my computer for this!) I could see the photos that are usually not accessible to me because they are flash-driven.

I was impressed with Splashtop. I was able to sit in our loft (which is our tv room) and use my main computer files and programs from my iPad. No more banishment to my computer office when I want to work on something at night while hubby is watching tv! Now I can join him.

The iPad keyboard is easily brought up by touching a small icon and there are even more keys than normal on it. I didn't play much with that but I will.

The one drawback for me was that when you first open Splashtop on your iPad (when it's connected to your computer) a screen of "Hints" is displayed. This shows you finger controls to replace the familiar mouse. But the problem was I couldn't remember all of them and there is no way to bring them back except by closing the program and starting over. I could overcome this by printing the screen IF I had an air printer but I don't!

But this one small negative isn't severe and I'm sure in time I'll memorize the finger controls. There aren't that many.

If you have an iPad, I encourage you to give this little App a try.


Jasia said...

I was quite excited by your article and downloaded Splashtop immediately. I've only had one brief opportunity to try it out so far. While it sounds good in theory it was less than stellar in performance (very sluggish). When I get a chance to play with it again I'll try restarting my computer and my iPad first and see if I get better results. It sounds like an awesome app. I hope I can get it to work reasonably well!

Genealogy Blogger said...

@Jasia - I'm so disappointed to hear about Splastop performance for you! It's been super fast, not sluggish at all for me even when I move quite far away from my main computer. I'm not a techie so don't pretend to understand the variables but it seems to me it might have something to do with how fast/sluggish your computer is on its own? Or your wireless speed? Maybe a reader with more technical background can help with this. I am so happy with this program especially because I can now use FamilySearch website and open my FTM program from my iPad.

GeneaPopPop said...

Thanks for your review of Splashtop. I bought the app and downloaded the Windows desktop application.

As soon as i opened the app and connected to my desktop, i found myself audibly gasping "Wow!"

I am actually posting this comment using Firefox via Splashtop. like you, I haven't yet mastered the special navigation controls but, since a one finger touch is a left mouse click (which I discovered intuitively by just doing it) I have had no trouble navigating the screen.

i must admit, when I switched to my RootsMagic program, which was already open on my desktop, another "Wow!" escaped from my mouth. There it was, right here on my iPad. Thanks again!