May 21, 2012, 2:00 PM — There are times when accessing another computer remotely can be convenient -- to check on the status of a download or code that is being compiled, to start or stop an application, or to load a document to view it. It can be really helpful to be able to do this from a smartphone or tablet. We tested three services that let you use your Android device to connect to your computer remotely.
There are applications that you can use to set up your computer to do this, but the popular remote-desktop services we looked at -- LogMeIn, Splashtop and TeamViewer -- enable you to access your computer from afar, over the Internet, more easily with less hassle. With all three, you can use another computer or mobile device (like an iPhone) to connect to your remote computer, but for this review we focused on their Android client app offerings.
Price: Hosting program is free; Android client costs $29.99
Setting up host: First you have to go on the LogMeIn site and sign up for a new user account. Then from the control panel of your account page, you click "Add Computer," which downloads an installation file specifically for the computer you are using. Running this executable will install the LogMeIn hosting software on the computer, which will be automatically configured for you to connect to remotely.
Android client app: Requires Android 1.5 or higher. You enter the email you used to sign up for your LogMeIn account and its password. The app, called Ignition, lists the name of your remote computer. If it's a Windows computer you have set it so that a username and password are required for access. Then you will need to enter these into the LogMeIn Android client app before your Android connects to it.
Interface: The way LogMeIn displays the Windows desktop of a remote computer and allows you to interact with it is slightly odd. By default, the entire Windows desktop is sized down to fit within your Android device's screen regardless of whether you hold it in landscape or portrait mode. On-screen tools let you zoom in on your view of the desktop, and then you can swipe the touchscreen to move throughout it. The mouse pointer stays fixed dead center on the screen. So instead of moving a mouse pointer all over the desktop, in LogMeIn's Android client app, you move the entire desktop in order to position objects (like application shorts) under the pointer.