I don’t carry a Windows machine around with me anymore, because I very rarely need anything that I can’t do on my iPad mini. On the rare occasions I do need Windows, I can remote control it with Splashtop 2. It’s a solution that I think works well for my specific use, because it allows me to pack all the Windows functionality I need into an app on a device that’s lighter than many laptop chargers.
This week the setup got a bit more complete, with the release of a jailbreak compatible with the iPad mini. A jailbreak tweak named BTC Mouse & Trackpad allows me to use a Bluetooth mouse with the iPad, and the $26 Bluetooth keyboard I have for my mini completes the set. Remote controlling a PC is the perfect use for a mouse on an iPad, and even though it’s not like using a mouse directly on the PC (because it’s a mouse emulating touch emulating a mouse), it’s quite useful.
The thing about remote controlling a PC over the web is that your experience is going to depend on your connection. The video in this post was shot this morning in the cafeteria of my school, and shows me remote controlling my computer, which is located in my apartment. It’s actually fast enough to do some video streaming, especially if you switch to the media streaming mode (which I didn’t do in the video).
Compared to having a Windows device with you, you do get a bit of latency on mouse movement, even on the best of connections. On the other hand, you can remote control a top of the line desktop PC for much longer than a weaker portable Windows machine can run on battery power, and for any task that requires that it runs for a while, you can just close the app and leave the remote computer to work while you go about your business. Since I can do most of what I need to do on the go on my iPad, I really only control my PC when I need to do something that requires a lot of processing power, which means I’d rather have faster processing than a faster mouse.
Of course this wouldn’t do the job for everyone, but at the same time, it’s a topic I think it’s important to keep putting focus on, as I find that a surprising number of people have no clue it’s even possible. Both internet connections and computer hardware are getting better for each year, but quite frankly, I think we’ll see a 300 gram iPad mini with a perfect connection to a remote desktop PC sooner than we’ll see a 300 gram, 10 hour full Windows device that has the same processing power as a desktop computer.