Dear Aunt TUAW,
So, I bought the new iPad hoping it would replace my need for a Mac. It's great, but just not quite there. I am wanting to set up a high end Mac mini at home to run OSX on my iPad via remote access.
There seems to be a lot of remote access apps. What do you think is the best.
Your loving nephew,
There are many superb remote access apps available on App Store. These include iTeleport and TeamViewer, not to mention Splashtop, RDM+, and Screens VNC. But when Auntie polled the TUAW family, all fingers pointed to one favorite: LogMeIn.
LogMeIn offers convenient remote access, and best of all it is now free. Last December, the company issued a slimmed down version of their popular Ignition app, simplifying the app's features to only those needed for basic control over your remote computer. You can log in and run apps, with the screen transmitted to your iPad.
A strong collection of keyboard and gesture options let you perform all the tasks you normally do, from clicking to dragging to using command-key combinations, all from the comfort of your iPad.
So what features got removed from the free app? There are two key premium features that didn't make the cut: file transfer and HD media streaming. Both are available, however, through in-app purchase or you can buy the Ignition app separately.
You may have read this post from last year about LogMeIn's file management and transfer capabilities. The full-featured Ignition offers a browser feature that provides access to all the data stored on your remote computer.
If you have a good Internet connection (and if you're using LogMeIn to begin with, you probably do, it's a bandwidth hog, unsurprisingly), you can transfer files to and from your iPad. This lets you download documents and open them in other apps using iOS's built-in "Open in" menu, or go the opposite direction and transfer data from your iPad back home to your desktop computer. Extended options let you perform that same file transfer to the cloud (DropBox and Google Docs support are built in) and between LogMeIn-enabled computers.
The second premium feature offers HD streaming. If you have iTunes running on your home computer or you've got a recorded TV episode open in EyeTV or QuickTime, the media you're playing back there streams in real time to your iPad. Basically, you can watch and listen to items from your computer in high quality.
Both of these are great features, but they come at a rather high cost. You can buy lifetime access to them for $130 by purchasing Ignition directly. If you already own Ignition, which used to cost just $30 on the App Store before LogMeIn split the app into its Free and Premium options, then you already own these features as well. Alternatively you can buy 3 months of use for $20, 6 months of use for $30, or 12 months for $40 through in-app purchase from the free app.
Auntie thinks the free version of LogMeIn, exactly as is, is just dandy for nearly all the remote access features most people will need, which is why she doesn't hesitate to recommend it to you for your Mac mini scenario.