The kindly representative from Splashtop running the Splashtop Remote booth found herself repeating one sentence again and again on the Macworld 2011 conference floor: “No, it’s not VNC or RDP.”
Let me explain. Splashtop Remote is an iPad app that lets you see and control your Mac (or PC, if that’s the way you swing). But rather than using existing protocols like Virtual Network Computing (VNC) and Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), Splashtop instead uses its own proprietary technology, allowing it to share both your computer’s video and audio with your iPad. Normal VNC connections can’t share audio at all.
Impressively, Splashtop’s remote desktop solution can share your screen over both Wi-Fi and 3G. (Today, 3G configuration requires port-mapping and other manual tinkering, but a promised update will remove some of the technical hurdles to 3G setup.)
Splashtop Remote requires that you install a separate free utility on your computer in order for it to work its magic. The app itself currently costs just $2, though Splashtop implied that price could go up soon.
I watched a live demo of the app, streaming Toy Story 3 from a Mac mini to an iPad over Wi-Fi. The audio stayed in sync, and while the animation wasn’t perfectly fluid, it was certainly passable. A smoothing option can make video playback look even more fluid, though it does so at the expense of blurring any text on the screen.
Controlling the remote Mac from the iPad works easily enough, with a few necessary adjustments for the touch interface. To trigger a right-click, for example, you tap and hold for a few seconds.
Splashtop Remote requires iOS 3.2 or later.