Sometimes you need to access files or programs on your computer, but you don’t want to leave your cozy spot on the couch. That’s where remote desktop apps such as RemotePC Lite come in. RemotePC Lite is a free iPad app that allows you to control your computer and access files over a local network connection.
In order to use the app, you will have to sign up for a free account with RemotePC, run the server software on your Windows or OS X computer, and install the iPad app which will let you remote control your desktop computer.
After signing into the application, you pick the machine you want to connect to, and then choose if you want to access files or the desktop. The desktop viewer in RemotePC Lite is workable, but it is not as powerful as the dedicated viewer application, TeamViewer HD. I could not access my second monitor via the RemotePC desktop viewer and mouse tracking is a little off. In landscape mode, the app tries to squish your computer’s display onto the iPad, so 16:9 screens may look a little weird on the iPad’s 4:3 screen.
If you needed to edit a file that is on your desktop or laptop, RemotePC’s desktop viewer will work in a pinch. Since the app only works over the local network, it might make more sense to just walk over to your machine to edit files. If you really want a great, free desktop viewer application, TeamViewer HD has RemotePC Lite beat.
Where RemotePC Lite shines is in viewing files like Word docs, Excel files, PDFs, images, audio, and some video. The file viewer will look familiar to anyone who has used the Mail application on the iPad. In landscape mode, a left pane shows your file structure, the right side is the viewer. If you want to view just your file, you can always go into full screen mode.
Unfortunately, while you can view files using RemotePC Lite, the app doesn’t let you edit them.
One of the odd things about the server software that runs on your computer is that it shares everything on your computer. There are no options to just share several files or folders – you’re sharing everything or nothing. If you’re worried about someone finding files on your computer, you better hide them.
As a video nut, I enjoyed being able to access my videos on the iPad without the need to transfer files over a USB cable. Additionally, the video will keep playing in the right pane while you look for your next file in the left pane.
As for video format support, stick to the ones the iPad supports natively. The application also allows you to create a music playlist. Find the song you want, click a button, then add to playlist. It’s not super-elegant, but it does work quite well. While there is a music playlist, there are no video playlist options. Both video and audio played smoothly without any stuttering or crashing.
The app costs a whopping $0, that’s right, it’s free. At that price, this app is very powerful, stable and feature-rich. RemotePC Lite is a very good way to access your files and a decent desktop viewer. It’s definitely worth a download.
You can grab the RemotePC Lite iPad app from the iTunes App Store.