Like many business travelers, I depend on my tablet for working on the go. But no matter how well I prepare, I often find myself forgetting a file on my office computer. On a recent trip to Los Angeles, I tested out Splashtop Remote Desktop and LogMeIn Ignition, tablet apps that let you access another computer remotely. My goal? To see how much work I could do on my office PC while cruising 20,000 feet in the air.
LogMeIn Ignition costs $29.99 and works on a variety of smartphones and tablets, including the new Kindle Fire. Before heading to the airport, I installed the program on my office computer, which I left running. Once the plane reached cruising altitude, I fired up my iPad 2 and connected to the in-flight Wi-Fi service. Then I signed in to the LogMeIn app and clicked a button to start a remote session with my office computer. My desktop screen popped up on my tablet instantly.
I had fallen behind on my invoices, so I tapped an icon on the desktop screen to open my Microsoft Accounting program. I created several invoices, typing on my tablet's touchscreen keyboard. I saved them as PDFs and e-mailed them to my editors, all from my desktop. I also watched flash videos, something I cannot normally do on my tablet. Another nice perk? I could share documents between computers by simply placing them in a folder. I was impressed. My biggest beef? The app was frustratingly slow at times. Also, the iPad app does not let you play music stored on your desktop, though LogMeIn for Android does.
On the same flight, I tried Splashtop, which costs just $2.99 and also works on a variety of smartphones and tablets. As with LogMeIn, I had to install the software on my office computer before I left and leave the machine running. During my flight, I tapped into my desktop remotely by entering my Gmail login information. I typed up some more invoices and watched a few videos. The app registered my taps much more swiftly and accurately than did LogMeIn. Even better, it let me listen to the music in my PC's Windows Media library.
Splashtop was quickly winning me over, but it does some have some drawbacks. Unlike LogMeIn, it does not include a file-transfer tool (you can e-mail files to yourself from your remote computer). It also booted me off my desktop when the plane's Wi-Fi signal weakened during the flight. LogMeIn slowed down but kept working.
The verdict? The next time I hit the road, I plan to use the more affordable Splashtop app. I recommend it to other users looking for a way to tap into their office computers, whether they are up in the air or at the coffee shop.