You’re out of the office, get a call and the boss needs a quick change on a presentation. You’re an IT admin, you’re enjoying some time out of the house for the weekend and you need to reboot a server — while your laptop is back at home. You want to show off a photo of the kids from vacation while you’re at a soccer game, but then you realize it’s back on your home computer. What do all of these scenarios have in common? Each situation used to require you to physically use the computer that is in the office or at home. Before, if you didn’t have your laptop or computer with you, well, you were just out of luck.
Not anymore. If you have RDM+ you can access and control your computer straight from your phone.
Like some of the other folks at Gear Diary, I regularly use both a BlackBerry and an iPhone. This is due to personal preference. My BlackBerry is my email/phone/calendar/tasklist/productivity tool. I choose to use the iPhone primarily for media and web surfing. So, when I was looking for an application that would give me access to a Mac or PC via both devices. Given these preferences, I tried
RDM+ by Shape Services. What I found is that whether you use an iPhone, a BlackBerry — or both — you will like what the RDM+ remote desktop application has to offer.
Setting up the application is simple. You first install the free desktop application on the computer(s) you want to be able to access remotely. Then, you install the handheld application on your mobile device. Once installed, you simply set up the computer(s) you will be accessing on your mobile device by inputting the computer number that RDM+ assigns on the desktop, and inputting the account name and password (once entered, you’re all set — you won’t need to “sign-in” each time after the initial set up).
So, what can you do with RDM+? Anything you can do on your computer. Need to open an application and edit a document? No problem. You can access any file from your computer, as well as control your computer directly from your handheld. This is what is great about the application — you can fully untether yourself from a desktop or laptop to handle those tasks that would have previously required you to drive into the office or wait until you could physically access a computer.
One of the biggest concerns any potential user will have is how the application translates your computer’s desktop in relation to the smaller screen real-estate on your handheld. RDM+ lets you navigate between a full-desktop view, as well as easily zooming in to the screen. By doing this, you get the most out of the limited screen on your mobile device.
The iPhone version really shines in this respect, as you can quickly pan and zoom just as if you were viewing a website. The BlackBerry version for full QWERTY or SureType Devices (Pearl), provides simple menu options to zoom in and out of desktop screen views.
There are, however, trade-offs. The application will lag as it redraws the screen for zooming and actions (opening applications, documents, etc.). It is convenient and useful, but let’s face it, with the speed of the application as it controls your desktop/laptop computer, you’re not going to be cutting out of the office for eighteen holes of golf thinking you will be able to fool the boss into thinking you’re at your desk. This application is for those times when you need to access a file or access your computer for specific needs.
While the application will appeal to casual users who just want to be able to control their home computer and access files from their BlackBerry or iPhone, RDM+ will most likely be an application sought by professional IT system administrators who would like the ability to access computers remotely without having to be chained to a laptop while at home. In that respect, here are a few of the advanced features available with RDM+
* Access remotely your computer even through NAT and Firewall from a mobile device.
* Executing any console commands (like ping, netstat, ipconfig) is available.
* History feature allows to find and re-send stored commands.
* Full-screen view and zooming. In full-screen mode, you can see the remote screen on the entire screen of your device.
* Zoomed mode lets you see an enlarged fragment of the desktop in more detail. In zoomed mode, you can also scroll the desktop up/down, right/left.
* Switch between different modes using the predefined and your own hotkeys and create device-specific keys for mouse click and open desktop menu.
* Navigational mini-map of your desktop which appears in the right upper corner while you scroll.
BlackBerry and iPhone users will find the shortcut options a real benefit to quickly getting navigating, accessing, and restarting your computer remotely.
iPhone users may find selecting desktop applications within RDM+ a bit frustrating at first due to the need to double-tap the iPhone screen to mimic mouse clicking on a menu. You click, then wait to see if the action registers (remember, there is a delay as RDM+ controls the desktop computer). Then, if it didn’t register, you double-tap again. In this area, the BlackBerry app makes it a bit easier since you have a physical keyboard to submit commands for controlling the desktop.
Even so, you still have to give the iPhone version an edge with the ease of navigating and zooming through intuitive swipes on the screen. Bottom line — the app works great on both platforms. I am confident I can do what I need to on either device. I would happily use RDM+ on either the iPhone or BlackBerry. The bottom line is it will simply depend on your device preference and what you are using now.
Now, brass tax. As with almost all mobile applications, there are pricing discrepancies. iPhone/iPod Touch users, you can get the app for $9.99 in the
iTunes App Store. That’s not cheap for an iPhone app, but considering the functionality, spending ten dollars is not outrageous.
Then we get to BlackBerry. This is where the pricing hurts….it is a whopping $39.95 (Windows Mobile users will face the same price and sticker shock for that version of RDM+). That is expensive on any platform. The pricing here is the only negative I can really fault for potential BlackBerry users. That said, if you are in a professional position where you would benefit from being able to access and control computers remotely (again, thinking IT system administrators here), I believe the return on investment will be worth it. If you can get your company to foot the bill so you can use it on your BlackBerry? Even better.
It is very important to note that the price you pay is a one-time fee for RDM+. All further updates and upgrades are included — and there is a free 7-Day trial available from the RDM+ website (just select your device type).
The application is also available for PalmOS and Windows Mobile, as well as iPhone/iPod Touch and BlackBerry. Sorry WebOS and Android fans, there’s not currently a version available for your respective platforms.
MSRP: iPhone/iPod Touch RDM+ is $9.99 from the
iTunes App Store. You can get the BlackBerry version right here on Gear Diary’s Mobile Software Store for $39.99.
What I Like: RDM+ allows me to easily access home or work computers via a BlackBerry or iPhone regardless of NAT or Firewall configuration; I can easily view, edit, or download a document that is on a desktop computer from my mobile device; The application provides the convenience of carrying out simple tasks by accessing another computer remotely
What Needs Improvement: I would love it if the speed of actions (have to wait on the handheld as the desktop carries out the application open/close, submit, etc) — but that criticism can be made for any remote computer application; Improve the price point for the BlackBerry platform ($19.95 vs. $39.95 is more palatable and would attract more buyers)