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Mobility Digest Review: Remote Desktop for Windows Phone

da151ecc-db3e-43d5-9547-ee43c7a00f3cI’ve been envious of Android’s ability to remotely connect to PCs for some time now. So imagine my joy when I saw this app hit the marketplace. Remote Desktop from Topperware, not to be confused with Remote Desktop from TheFastMarket, is a RDP app. Unlike TheFastMarket’s version, Topperware doesn’t require the user install any program on their PC; however, you will have to enable remote desktop access. Topperware’s version will set you back $12.99. A trial is available but it will only establish a connection for 60 seconds.

For those unfamiliar with remote desktop applications, it allows you to access a particular computer from an external source, in this case your Windows Phone. All of the computing is still handled from the PC but the display is streamed to a separate device. This comes in handy for when you want to run applications on your PC but don’t always want to or can’t bring it with you. It allows you to manage your PC from anywhere you have an internet connection.

Remote Desktop’s setup is quite simple. Once you have set up your PC and router, simply enter the required info(i.e. username & password, IP address, and port number) and you’re ready to go. No further setup is required. There are additional options for adjusting color(64k vs 256k) and well as desktop resolution(320×200 to 1280×1024).

Remote Desktop works as promised but it’s far from perfect. There is considerable lag(average was close to 2seconds) from when I made an input to when it is actually registered. This makes the app next to unusable. I attempted to watch a video file from the app as well. I received maybe 1 frame every 10-15seconds and each frame scanned in slowly chuck by chuck. No sound was heard from my phone.

Performance issues aside, I’m sad to say the interface is not very good. If the resolution is set to higher than 800×480 you are allowed to scroll around the screen. Zooming is non-existent. Tapping once moves the cursor to the new position. Double tapping triggers a mouse click and triple tapping is equivalent to a double click. Dragging is impossible. When you tap the edge of the screen an on-screen display pops up with a keyboard and mouse outline in the bottom left and right corners, respectively. The keyboard button launches the on-screen keyboard of course. Oddly the mouse icon gives the user opens for ctl+alt+del, alt+tab, and esc. Not actions I would associate with a mouse.

I tested the app on weak 3G(~700kbs), strong 3G(1.8Mbps), and Wifi(11.14Mbps). I ran BandWidth prior to running the app to verify speeds and the user experience was the same across all connection speeds. I also tried reducing color and resolution with no sign of improvement. Interestingly enough, putting everything to max settings didn’t slow it down either. I found this performance to be extremely odd, so I thought I’d connect straight to my PC via my home network. The app reports that does not support local connections.

The developer does not specify how the app works, but considering the odd performance and the lack of local network support I believe this app does not directly connect to my PC. Rather it is very likely that the connection is facilitated through a third-party. This makes me a little uneasy as I’d rather not have my data sent through a middleman. This of course is just speculation.

Bottom line, the app is barely usable in it’s current state. I wouldn’t use it if it were free, and I really cannot recommend it with the hefty $13 price tag it currently carries. Looks like I’ll have to keep being envious of Android users for awhile longer.