Pros: Access to unlimited number of desktops; Mac- and PC-compatible; Available across all tablet operating systems
Cons: File management; HD audio and video streaming ; Cloud storage only available on Pro version
Verdict: LogMeIn for iPad/iPhone offers basic remote access to your desktop for free, but the app really shines when you pay extra for the Pro version.
LogMeIn for iPad/iPhone is among the more well-known apps for accessing your desktop remotely, and why shouldn't it be? The free version lets you access and edit files on your PC or Mac while on the go, as well as run desktop programs. If you step up to the Pro version ($39.99), you'll get a ton of extra goodies, from HD video and audio streaming to saving files to your tablet or phone. Plus, LogMeInPro integrates with popular cloud services. Read on to find out if this is the best remote access option for your iOS device.
LogMeIn's setup process is relatively painless. We created an account from within the iPad app the first time we launched it from our tablet. Then we accessed www.logmein.com from our computer system (PC or Mac both work fine) and downloaded a companion app, which registered that particular computer on the LogMeIn service. We could configure LogMeIn to access as many remote computers as we wished.
After logging into our LogMeIn account on the iPad app, a list of the Macs and PCs that we linked to our account appeared. We tapped on the desktop we wanted to access remotely. We were then presented with a dialogue box prompting us to enter our regular PC credentials. After that, we were in.
The first thing we saw upon launching the remote desktop was a handy menu of on-screen gestures. A tiny virtual mouse appeared on-screen, and we used one finger to move it around. When we wanted to click, we tapped on the mouse's left button and the app registered a click where the mouse was hovering. We could also tap anywhere on the screen, and the mouse immediately jumped to that spot.
Other gestures were fairly intuitive, too. Double-taps registered as double-clicks; two-finger taps were right clicks. We could also double-tap and slide to drag items, apply a two-finger up and down scroll, swipe three fingers to the left or the right to switch monitors swipe three finger up to show the keyboard.
Most of the screen is taken up by the remote desktop, but a strip along the bottom of the app shows icons for various shortcuts: access to an onscreen keyboard, hot key combinations (Alt-Tab, Ctrl-Alt-Del), left click/right click toggle, zoom and settings.
We used LogMeIn on our iPad 2 to access our work computer remotely. Whether we connected over a local network or a Wi-Fi network, the app was mostly stutter-free and exhibited little to no lag, executing our gestures correctly. We also appreciated how we could switch between either viewing an individual screen or showing off both screens side-by-side on our remote desktop, given that our work PC has a two-monitor setup.
However, the app wasn't as precise as we would have liked when we tried to register a click by tapping on the screen. More often than not, it was more accurate to just hover over a spot using the mouse, then tap on the virtual left-click button. Also, when we typed words into Microsoft Word on our remote desktop, we saw some dropped letters due to lag.
Next, we fired up a 720p trailer for the movie "Drive," and noted that the video dropped several frames. The sound that came through the speakers was delayed, too. Still, that's better than most remote access apps, which don't support audio at all. It's also worth noting that we were only able to try out this feature because we were using 30-day free trial of LogMeIn's Pro version on our Android tablet; video and audio streaming is otherwise excluded from the free iOS version.
LogMeIn Pro Features
LogMeIn offers some additional features if you're willing to shell out a few extra bucks to upgrade to a Pro account. These include the ability to stream audio and HD video and send a file over-the-air to print on AirPrint-compatible printers. You also get additional file management options, such as the ability to transfer photos and docs to and from your device, and My Cloud Bank for integration with cloud storage services like Dropbox and Google Docs. Last but not least, the Pro version lets you attach files to emails, including photos and videos.
Last December, LogMeIn's developers decided to offer a basic version of the app for free. If you require features beyond this, you can pony up $39.99 a year for LogMeIn Pro (it's $69.99 for Android devices), which lets you manage your files, stream audio and HD video to your tablet and store your stuff in the cloud.
If you're a casual iOS user in need of a free remote desktop solution, there's no question that you should try LogMeIn. The app has robust performance and comes with all the essential features that should satisfy your requirements. Those who plan to stream multimedia content will like the $19.99 Splashtop better, and mobile professionals who require functionalities beyond the basic feature set should consider LogMeIn Pro. But for the basics--accessing your PC remotely from your tablet--LogMeIn is the way to go.