RDM+ in Review – Have your PC with you anywhere… even without the PC!

Has it ever happened that when you get home, or are on a customer’s site, or even on vacation and remember that one critical file you forgot to take with you, or that e-mail you forgot to send? Well, it happened to me more than once (just don’t let my boss know). Well, Shape-Services, creators of the best messaging app on the iPhone, IM+, have released RDM+ – the ultimate answer to remote desktop control anywhere, anytime, using any connection!

Even such remote connection solutions as Windows embedded Remote Desktop or the ever-popular VNC don’t cut it since they require you to have direct access to the PC, which is often impossible for a office-setup LAN and even at home requires a lot of trouble to configure to be accessible from outside, while leaving you open to all kinds of attacks (I know, I’ve tried!). This is why I was thrilled when I was offered the opportunity to review RDM+.

The set-up is extremely simple. You download the desktop client, install it, set up the proxy server (if any required) and register the PC. Make sure to note down the PCs unique number, though it will be sent to you on the e-mail you provided. And yes, this great suite functions even through a proxy server, even the most restrictive (my office has blocked a lot of websites not to mention non-standard ports).

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The next step is to install the RDM+ on the iPhone and set up the PC connection. It requires only the PC’s unique ID (if you forgot it you can check it at any time at the icon), the account name and the password. Additionally you can vary the image quality depending on your connection speed and toggle the touchscreen control mode.

After that, each time you open up the app, a list of saved PCs is presented. You can also set up if you would prefer to enter the password every time you connect, or just once.

The connection itself is initialised very quickly, whereupon you’re presented with your desktop. I would note one downside immediately – RDM+ does not yet support multi-screen setups, so if like me, if you use a laptop and external screen, you’ll only have access to the primary one (whichever is defined so in the screen properties). Ok, done with that, moving on.

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The speed of the interface is excellent. The zooming and panning works without a hitch. Unfortunately, here we crash head on in the second flaw I noted. The suite seems to use compressed, static images.While leading to an ultra-fast interface, this also kills refresh speed. I haven’t seen any official statements or settings, but by my count, the screen is refreshed about every 5 seconds. While this may be fine if you’re only poised on doing business related stuff, you’re screwed if you were planning on watching a movie or playing a game (not that the latter would be anything but cumbersome, but…). In the end, a setting to control the refresh would very nice, since at higher bandwidths, the platform is clearly capable of better refresh.

The GUI is excellent. I must say, with all the solution I previously seen on the “Jesus” phone, this is clearly the best remote control I’ve seen. Besides the obvious stuff like supporting both portrait and landscape views, the touch interface works great. While tap-and-drag to pan the screen, pinch to  zoom in/out, and single/double tap to single/double click are obvious, it is often very poorly realised. At the same time you can always go back to the plain old touchpad mode, where you the iPhone’s screen is used akin to a laptop touchpad to move the pointer on the screen. If you want to do something more complex, like right click or drag-and-drop, you can tap and hold on a spot to bring out the mouse actions menu. The various special keys (like enter, pageup, etc.) are accessed using a special icon on the top, as well as the standard Windows shortcuts are available using its sister icon. Another useful idea is the scroll-bar toggle on the bottom-right of the interface, allowing you to quickly and easily (guess what) scroll the currently selected screen.

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Another important issue, especially with the slow screen refresh, is typing. Well, Shape Services foresaw this and provided two modes of typing. In the regular mode, you just enter the text letter by letter, and they appear on the screen as the screen refreshes. The second mode is buffered. A shaded strip will appear above the keyboard and all entered text will be applied within. After you finish and double check the entry, you hit send, and the whole buffer is sent to the remote PC in one stroke. Another thing I should note is the wonderful scrollable strip of such useful buttons as F1-12, etc..

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And, even though this is not in scope of this article, I have to note that you can separately purchase the RDM+ Web access, allowing you to have the same functionality of remote control available to you from any browser anywhere in the world, provided it can access the Shape Services website.

To sum it all up, RDM+ is the best remote control software I’ve seen on the iPhone. While it has its limitations (the single-screen access and the fixed refresh time), the ability to work through ANY firewall, the easy setup, and the excellent and ultra-fast interface make it unrivalled if you find yourself in need of putting in that extra bit of work on the PC but are out. In the end, it boils down to what you need the remote access for, and personally, RDM+ is good for about 95% of things, I would need remote access to do.

With this I declare RDM+ officially touched!

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App Summary
Title:RDM+ Remote Desktop for Mac OS and Windows (v.2.2.21)Developer:SHAPE Services
Price:$19.99App Size:1.0 MB
  • Excellent interface speed
  • Easy set-up
  • Works through any proxy-server using standard ports
  • Very user-friendly GUI
  • Requires a desktop client
  • Non-configurable screen refresh speed
  • Doesn’t support multi-screen set-up

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