By Harry McCracken | Thursday, November 18, 2010 at 7:35 am
Splashtop is best known for its lightweight, fast-booting operating environment, which comes preinstalled as a Windows alternative on hundreds of PC models. In August, it branched out with Splashtop Remote, a remote-control program for the iPad that let you control a Windows computer from your tablet. And now it’s launched an iPhone/iPod Touch edition.
Like the iPad version, Splashtop Remote for the iPhone is cheap–it’s ninety-nine cents, compared to $29.99 for LogMeIn’s Ignition. It’s designed for local use–it works over Wi-Fi connections, not 3G. It does indeed let you maneuver around your Windows machine, launching and running apps and doing stuff you can’t do on an iPhone (such as watch Flash videos and play Flash games). And the performance is snappy enough that even video playback is decent.
Using Splashtop Remote, I’m reminded of the challenges of making Windows work through touch alone, and doing it on a tiny screen doesn’t help. But the software does do a respectable job of translating Windows into something that’s usable on a phone. (You can work in portrait or landscape mode; I found the latter much more manageable.) It uses several gestures to stand in for Windows mouse actions: For instance, you tap to simulate a left-button click, and tap and hold for a right-button one. You can also use an on-screen keyboard to type, of course, and can zoom in and out.
One thing about the program kept startling me: Its list of available PCs kept briefly listing a non-existent, phantom machine on my network named “Peter.” Then it would vanish.
I’m not sure how many folks are going to want to use a nearby Windows PC from an iPhone–me, I’d probably just walk over to the PC. But Splashtop Remote does make it possible, at a price that makes it a no-brainer. And there might be more folks who need this than I realize: Splashtop told me that its iPad version has been the best-selling iPad business program in the App Store.