We recently reviewed Screens; a solid VNC client for iOS. Josiah Oakley found it to be a powerful and lightening quick application for accessing your computer remotely, even commenting that:
Screens is the ultimate VNC client for your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch!
In the interest of competition, and to provide robust coverage of the apps in this category, I’m going to take a look at LogMeIn Ignition; a flexible, formidable, and ultimately useful app for gaining remote access. Read on to get an overview of LogMeIn’s most powerful features and see whether it merits its price tag!
Is It Worth It?
While it’s important to review and assess free apps, especially the hot new additions to the App Store, reviewing more expensive apps is often of greater use; you need to know whether an app is worth the money!
It’s worth mentioning at the top of this review that LogMeIn Ignition is a universal app that works on iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, and costs $29.99. Before your sharp intake of breathe I’d like to reassure you that LogMeIn Ignition is good, really good. While App Store reviews aren’t a particularly reliable source of information about the quality of an app, that LogMeIn has 5 stars for its most current version (from over 1000 ratings) certainly says something!
Turning the Key
There is a process to go through in order to set up LogMeIn Ignition, but this is par for the course. All computers you wish to access must have LogMeIn installed and running in order for the iPad app to work its magic.
The process is explained well and the website for LogMeIn is very useful in terms of troubleshooting problems along the way. Once set up the process of connecting is stunningly easy, simply tap on the computer you wish to access and you are presented with three options.
- The screen icon allows you to take remote control of the machine in question.
- The files icon gives you access to the File Manager
- The last icon merely brings up information pertinent to that particular machine.
The first two of these options are the main functions of LogMeIn Ignition, which I’ll go into detail about below.
While this kind of virtual networking has been around for a while, the slick interface of LogMeIn (combined with the sheer beauty of the iPad) is fantastically reminiscent of futuristic spy technology. Do you remember the remote control car in Tomorrow Never Dies?
Of course you do! I’d argue that the experience of using LogMeIn Ignition is on a par with that kind of undercover technology, and it’s almost certainly more useful across the board (in practical terms a remote control car is pretty useless, unless you’re running the weirdest taxi service in the world).
The first screen you come to when selecting to access a computer remotely appears with a ‘Remote Control Hints’ panel over the top – this says a lot about the difficulty of providing an entirely intuitive experience on the iPad.
The fact is that LogMeIn has done a great job of making the learning curve as painless as possible, most of the controls are intuitive and there is a helpful bar included at the bottom of the screen so there’s no need to panic. A single tap is a single click and a double tap is a double click, that a 2-finger tap is a right click is a good example of the efforts to make the system intuitive – it’s the same system as can be enabled for the trackpad.
One of the most important controls is the 3-finger slide up and down to reveal and hide the keyboard. This is as simple and effective a control as I could imagine and quickly becomes second nature.
While the reaction time of your touch is not instant, it’s quick enough to not become too frustrating – you would expect a slight delay considering the technology involved. The amazing thing for me is how well it works, and how reactive it is, anywhere you have a solid Wi-Fi connection.
It’s amazing that it’s as quick next to my computer as it is in a cafe 400 miles away!
You can use all of your applications and files as if you are sitting in front of the computer itself, taking complete control of the device through your iPad. With LogMeIn Ignition you’ll never have to go round to your parents house to fix the computer again…
This second primary function of LogMeIn is what helps separate it from the competition and turn it into a supremely useful application. The File Manager allows brutally easy access to all of the files on your computer from a slick and easy to understand interface.
The way in which you can copy files from any computer you’re connected to is utterly useful. You can organise and save files in the Local Files section of LogMeIn and then email them out of the application as necessary. The layout is reminiscent of a classic file manager and functions mostly as you would expect, although the way a copied file has its destination chosen is intriguing.
It would be very difficult to detail every aspect of LogMeIn’s functionality in a single review, suffice to say that it achieves everything it advertises.
The sheer number of useful applications of LogMeIn is hard to comprehend. For some it will be a helpful tool to be used occasionally, for others it could be transformative and irreplaceable. It comes with a heavy price tag, but for those who can see value in its use it’s more than worth it!
Bear in mind that it is universal app and the device software is free! Although I fear the iPhone experience should be used in only the most desperate of circumstances…
For anyone who needs the extra functionality of a file manager, it’s well worth the extra cost over Screens. While the rapid pace with which Lion support was added gives me further confidence in putting forward LogMeIn Ignition as my VNC client of choice.
LogMeIn is a stunningly powerful, and effectively intuitive, way to control and gain access to your computers from anywhere in the world!