The iPad 3: Your ultimate remote desktop?

Remote desktop apps let you access your PC from afar, and the iPad 3's features make it the most remote-desktop-capable tablet yet.

Businesses love Apple’s iPad. They use the tablets in myriad ways, from airline pilot flight manuals to hospital charts to point-of-sale terminals. The updated specs of the iPad 3, announced today, should make the tablet even better at something it already does well: enabling remote desktop access.

Tablet Limitations

Though tablets can do many of the tasks that PCs have been used for, not everything is tablet ready. One of the biggest limitations is running common business software, most of which is written to run on Windows-based x86/x64 machines. Microsoft has announced that its new Windows 8 will not allow software written for previous versions of Windows to run on ARM-based tablets; they will need to be re-written as a Metro-style app. Similarly, though iOS and OS X share code, programs written for the Mac cannot run on an iPad.

Remote Desktop

One solution for this problem is to use the iPad as an extension of a PC. With remote desktop software like LogMeIn or TeamViewer, an iPad can display and control the screen of a remote PC. This allows remote workers to do many of the same tasks they could in the office without taking a powerful desktop computer with them, and without having multiple licenses for expensive software.

iPad 3: Better Screen

Though the iPad 2, with its 1024x768 display, is already a capable remote desktop device, the iPad 3’s 2048x1536 display is even better. The increased resolution is larger than that of most PC displays, allowing the iPad 3 to show a full-screen, pixel-accurate version of your faraway desktop at the office. The extra resolution should let you move gracefully from a clear full screen to a magnified view of a region of your monitor.

iPad 3: Faster Networking

To make remote desktop access possible, wireless networking is critical. Wi-Fi is perfect for this when available, but remote workers on the road won’t always have access to it. The iPad 3 offers 4G LTE service through both Verizon and AT&T. This will provide plenty of bandwidth to stream a remote desktop screen to the iPad, giving you full access to the office PC from anywhere you can get wireless coverage.

iPad 3: Enough Power

Though display and networking are crucial when it comes to remote desktop access, battery is also important for any mobile device. 4G connectivity places a higher demand on the battery than the previous 3G did. The iPad 3’s new A5X processor includes upgraded power management, meant to offset some of the increased demand of 4G LTE. The run time is still said to be 10 hours under normal use, yet while using 4G LTE that drops slightly to 9 hours, which should still be plenty for the typical business user looking for a remote desktop tool.

Though not yet a replacement for a business PC, tablets make a great extension of one. Already the most popular workplace tablet, the iPad will be even more in-demand by businesses with its expanded features.

Joseph Fieber has 25 years of experience as an IT pro, with a background in computer consulting and software training. Follow him on Google+, Facebook, or Twitter, or contact him through his website,

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Joseph Fieber

PC World (US online)
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