Developer: Ericom Software Inc.
Price: free Download on the App Store
Ever find yourself thinking, “Wow, this iPad is great. If only I could use Internet Explorer.” OK, probably not. Most people who want to use an iPad to access their Windows desktop or use programs on their home computer have more complex needs than browsing the Internet. Nevertheless, no matter what applications you want use, if it’s on your PC and you’re not, AccessToGo makes an RDP solution that could help you get it.
AccessToGo from Ericom Software is really two apps in one. First, it’s a mobile RDP client that’s free to use and available to anyone using Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 (Pro, Enterprise or Ultimate). It’s also a powerful RDP accelerator that saves bandwidth and speeds up applications for users working remotely. How much faster? Well, that will depend on what you’re doing but it could be up to 10x faster for graphic-rich content like streaming video and PDF display.
Setting Up AccessToGo
AccessToGo comes pre-installed with profiles for Ericom’s demo server; tap to connect and you can immediately start testing things out. Start with the regular connection and move on Blaze to compare the difference in speed and performance. Keep in mind that AccessToGo has more power than the demo implies, and if you want to really understand what it’s capable of you need to connect with your own PC.
I tried setting up remote desktop access a couple years ago, and rather quickly decided there wasn’t anything I needed bad enough to slog through the hassle of firewalls and port forwarding. After all, I could access all my files with DropBox. Now that I find myself needing more than just the files on my PC, I’ve outgrown DropBox and it’s time to graduate to a real RDP client.
Setting up your router to allow remote access, and port forwarding if you have more than one PC on your network (doesn’t everyone?) is beyond the scope of this article. This is another reason the Demo Connections in AccessToGo come in handy — troubleshooting. If you can connect to Ericom’s server but not to your home network, then the problem is likely with your settings. It’s not an experience I’d want to repeat, but once the router is configured to allow remote connections, AccessToGo works like a charm. It’s as simple as typing in your IP address, Username and Password.
Adding a Blaze connection requires additional software on your home computer. Install the Blaze server (trial), after that the set up is basically the same. You can even have regular and blaze profiles for the same computer. AccessToGo handles everything behind the scenes and the connection is seamless either way.
Hands On with AccessToGo
Use the toolbar along the top of the screen to access the mouse, keyboard and program navigation buttons. If you spend a lot of time using iOS, you may experience a bit of a mental shift as you transition into the Windows environment. It’s different and not entirely intuitive at first. However, overall I found that I enjoyed using my PC from the iPad with AccessToGo.
I fired up Microsoft Word, Internet Explorer, watched a couple of YouTube videos on Chrome, opened a PDF and played a game of Free Cell. The apps I used in AccessToGo were responsive.
The Blaze Connection is noticeably faster, but increased display performance comes at the cost of graphics compression. Images and text are visibly compressed with JPG artifacts around the edges. I’m on the third-generation iPad; this will be less pronounced on iPhones and non-Retina Display iPads. And, in most cases, the trade-off of speed and saved bandwidth will be worth it. When you need the best-looking RDP connection, just keep a regular profile on hand and connect without the Blaze accelerator.
AccessToGo is free to use for regular remote desktop connections from iPad to Windows computers. Those wanting to boose performance with a Blaze connection will need to sign up for service with Ericom. Inquire here about pricing.