Remotely Access Your PC (Part 3)

12/5/2012 11:24:49 AM

Splashtop is similar to TeamViewer, although there are some major differences. There’s a desktop version called Streamer, which is installed on the computer that you want to remotely access. It comes in Windows PC and Apple Mac flavours, but not Linux. What’s different about this remote access software is that you can’t access a computer from a computer. You can only access a computer from an Android or iOS tablet or phone. This limitation will put off some users and it makes is less useful than TeamViewer, which runs everywhere.

Description: Splashtop Remote Desktop

Splashtop Remote Desktop

When the Splashtop Streamer is first run, it prompts you to create a Splashtop account. This is free and just requires an email address and a password. You can then log in and the computer is registered with Splashtop. This is so that other computers and devices running Splashtop can access it. You then need to install an app on the device that is to access the computer. There are versions for Windows and Apple Mac, Android and iOS, and even Kindle Fire, Barnes & Noble Nook, BlackBerry PlayBook and others.

I tried it on a Google Nexus 7, mainly because it’s free, whereas it costs $8 on the iPad and that’s a special sale price. It is just 69p for the iPhone, but do you want to access a desktop PC with a big screen on such a small device? The free Splashtop 2 HD app for Android installed in a few seconds and then you just log in to your Splashtop account. The home screen shows a list of computers that are running Splashtop and you aren’t limited to just one; there can be as many as you want. Tap the computer you want to connect to and its desktop is displayed on the screen. Although access to your account is password protected, an additional password can be added, so each of your computers can be password protected too.

The quality of the screen display is excellent and the image on the tablet or phone is nearly as good as the real desktop. Although the quality is high, it does affect the performance, and it appeared to be sluggish when using Windows. Drag your finger around the screen and the mouse cursor can trail quite a long way behind it. Zooming in and out is with pinch and spread, and a three-fingered touch can be used to scroll the screen in any direction. It’s not quite as intuitive as TeamViewer, and using it to access software running on a Windows PC wasn’t quite so good on the Google Nexus 7.

It claims to be 15 times faster than competitors, but it didn’t feel very responsive. In the Performance section of the website the company quotes frame-rates and video latency. With its excellent image quality I think this app is designed for running Flash content and watching videos on tablets and smartphones. It would certainly give you a better experience watching movies on your tablet than many rival remote access applications, because this is where it excels.

There are a number of other apps for Splashtop and they are quite innovative. For example, there’s XDisplay, which turns an iPad into a second wireless monitor for your PC. This is a brilliant idea and all you need to do is to stand the iPad next to the PC’s monitor and you can drag windows over to it. This and apps like Whiteboard, Presenter, Touchpad and others are interesting, but they aren’t about remotely accessing your PC, so they won’t be covered here. Check them out if you’re interested. is an interesting service that provides a form of remote access. With TeamViewer, Splashtop and others, you can set it running before you leave home or work or wherever the PC is and then access it remotely from another location on another PC. With there needs to be another person at the remote computer, because when you try to connect, it asks for the user’s permission. They must click to accept the remote connection.

Description: is an interesting service that provides a form of remote access. is an interesting service that provides a form of remote access.

It’s designed for screen sharing at meetings, and one person downloads and runs the software. When it’s run, it displays a nine-digit code number on the screen. Anyone who wants to view that user’s screen can simply go to the website and enter the code. The remote desktop is displayed in the browser window. There’s a button in a little control panel at the top of the page to ask permission to take control and from then on you can open windows, run software and so on. It’s not the best or the fastest screen display, but it’s okay and it’s super quick and simple to set up.

In addition to meetings, it’s useful for technical support too. Just ask the person to run Basic free and they can email the code to you or phone you. It’s not useful if you want to access your own PC, because you won’t be there to accept the connection.


Virtual network computing is basically a system for viewing and accessing another computer remotely over a network or the internet. The code is open source and many remote access programs are based on it. TightVNC, UltraVNC and RealVNC are all variations of VNC as you can guess from their names. All of them are free, but the free version of RealVNC has a limited feature set. There are Personal and Enterprise versions that add extras like file transfers, encrypted communications, printing, chat and so on. All VNC applications are basically the same, so to a certain degree you can mix and match the server software that runs on the remote computer that you want to access and the viewer, which runs on the computer that accesses it.

Description: Virtual network computing is basically a system for viewing and accessing another computer remotely over a network or the internet.

Virtual network computing is basically a system for viewing and accessing another computer remotely over a network or the internet.

TightVNC is available in 32-bit and 64-bit Windows versions. It runs as a service in the background, so it’s always available or it can be run as an application when you need it. To access the computer running TightVNC, a Java viewer is used. As it’s a standard Java application, any computer and operating system with Java can be used to access the remote PC, such as Windows, OS X and Linux. It has useful controls to set the image quality of the remote PC and you can adjust the quality to match the network speed.

Because VNC is open source, other people have created viewers and there are several to choose from for Android phones and tablets. Android-VNC-Viewer is a popular choice, but MultiVNC, Mocha VNC Lite, and Jump Desktop Free are also available. They’re all free in the Google Play Store. A search for VNC at the iOS App Store will also reveal many remote access apps, such as Mocha VNC Lite, VNC Viewer, and Connect My Mac. The Android VNC viewers apps weren’t quite as good as TeamViewer when it comes to using Windows, but they’re okay. The image quality could be set quite high, but the update speed was a bit sluggish.

If your Android phone or tablet is rooted, you might want to experiment with VNC servers. There are several apps, which enable you to control your Android device from the PC with a reverse remote control connection. I’m not sure why you would want to, but it’s certainly worth investigating if you want to use Android apps on your PC.

One thing worth bearing in mind with VNC servers is that they often require you to configure port forwarding on the router if you want to access your PC over the internet. On a local area network, all that is required is the IP address of the computer to connect to, but this isn’t possible over the internet without port forwarding


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