Controlling a PC from an iPad Turns Tablets Into Genuine Work Devices

I have a problem with the whole “Post-PC Era” marketing hype. The problem is that, for me, trying to do any real work on a tablet is a miserable experience. Typing and keyboard issues aside, there is so much that you can’t do on a tablet that we take for granted on PCs. Much of that has to do with the limited tablet interface, and the fact that desktop applications are so much more full-featured than apps. Also, file management doesn’t exist at all on tablets, which at times is absolutely maddening. In my opinion, the only “serious” work that can be done on a tablet is email, web browsing, taking notes at meetings (which, when combined with an app like DropBox, works nicely), and perhaps writing, if you can live with the touch interface or a flimsy add-on keyboard. I call my iPad my “couch computer.” It’s a handy little device to have around, but it’s good for little else.

What would be nice is a way to access and control a desktop computer, and all its applications and files, from a tablet. The only remaining obstacle to doing real work would be the tablet interface. But full functionality and access to files would be re-established, with the tablet simply serving as a portal to a full computing experience.

Such solutions have existed for a while, such as GoToMyPC and LogMeIn. But these run into their own interface problems because PCs rely on precise control of a mouse, which is difficult to emulate with finger-controlled tablets. However, a new product, called Parallels Access, may have solved these problems. Reviewed by Walt Mossberg, Parallels Access apparently succeeds at turning the desktop experience of a computer into a full-screen tablet experience that makes controlling a PC remotely quite easy.

Unlike many others, [Access] doesn’t force you to constantly try and emulate the precise mouse pointer for which most of these computer programs were designed. It runs them like iPad apps, in full screen, and at the iPad’s resolution, yet preserving full functionality and the ability to switch among open apps and windows on the computer. It works over both Wi-Fi and cellular connections.

File  sharing is still a bear, but Parallels is said to be working on a solution. Also, the program is quite pricey — $80 per YEAR, per computer accessed. Ouch! But for the ability to do real work on the road, the price may be worth it. Read the article, check out the accompanying video, and be sure to read the comments, where a less expensive program with similar capabilities called Splashtop is discussed (with Splashtop’s CEO providing some interesting notes).

The “Post-PC Era” may be brilliant marketing, but it requires good post-PC apps if it’s going to succeed — and apparently a remote PC to access, as well.

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