Help! What VNC app should I choose?

Discussion in 'iPad Apps' started by Stingray454, Oct 1, 2010.

  1. Stingray454 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 22, 2009
    I really need a good VNC app. I've googled like mad and found the usual suspects (Mocha, iTeleport, Desktop Connect, VNC Viewer, LogMeIn and a few others).

    I know my way around router / network settings, so the ease of setting up new servers doesn't matter much. I want a VNC client that first of all is fast, can handle high resolutions (I run 2 27" monitors on the computer I'll be connecting most to). It will be mostly to Mac, so RDP support is nice but not essential. I do however like easy to control apps - good use of the touchscreen, easy to move/click with the mouse and so on. The main criteria is that I'd like to to be FAST. I realize this depends mostly on the server and connection, but some apps are better optimized which is a big plus.

    What app should I choose? I'd love to hear from people that tried several of the above ones for comparison :)

    The price is not really an issue, but I'd hate to spend $20 on an app just to discover it's useless and that I'll have to buy another one for another $20.
  2. felt. macrumors 6502a

    Mar 13, 2008
  3. chiefroastbeef macrumors 6502a

    May 26, 2008
    Dallas, Texas/ Hong Kong
    I use logmein as well and love it. It costs a bit of money but it is a solid piece of software.
  4. cRuNcHiE macrumors 6502a

    Jan 2, 2007
    I use realVNC, it might not have the features of log me in but it does what i need and the dev's have been really good at adding any features i request!

    They also didn't make me buy a 'HD' app for my ipad so i didn't have to pay twice like some others
  5. THFourteen macrumors 6502a


    Apr 8, 2010
    Try out mocha there's a fully functional free version available.

    Works great for me.
  6. Fiddler70 macrumors regular

    Jan 10, 2010

    I have

    Desktop, nice user interface, will wake up computer.

    iTeleport, simple nice to use will wake up computer as well.

    Logmein, seems fastest but needs Logmein account. Also needs computer to be online. Sometimes I wake my iMac with Desktop or WOL and then use Logmein. Logmein has the advantage of using the touch screen either as a pointing device by putting your finger anywhere on the screen, or dragging by holding and dragging the mouse around.

    I tend to use Logmein most, although it needs the desktop client. I like iTeleport for it's simplicity and Desktop for the nice user interface. If you maintain many computers Desktop has that advantage.

    Have to say that this function of the iPad is simply amazing in the way it opens up possibilities. The combined price of the various apps was completely worth it for me. Just to be able to try them all out.

    Good luck with setting yourself up!
  7. egorka macrumors newbie

    May 10, 2010
    I just got Jump Desktop. It doesn't require a client software, but if you install it, it makes setup a breeze.

    It was just on a (1) day sale for $4.99. Now it's back up to the $19.99 price.

    I've been looking for a good client to do remote desktop but didn't want to shell out too much $$ for the few times I'd use it. So I kept an eye on the price for about a month and when it dropped, I bought it.

    It's also a universal app so you can use it on your iPhone / iPod Touch / iPad which also makes it appealing.
  8. colmaclean macrumors 68000


    Jan 6, 2004
    Same here. A lot cheaper than the competition and is a universal app so one payment gets you the iPhone and iPad versions. :)
  9. Stingray454 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Sep 22, 2009
    Thanx for the info guys :)

    About RealVNC - it looks good and got ok price, but from what I read about it the mouse control is a bit awkward. Is this true? Also, I read something about it works best when paired with some specific server software that in itself costs $50+. Any thought on this? Does it work good with the built-in screen sharing in OS X?

    LogMeIn is a bit scary - storing my login/password for sensitive stuff on a cloud service? Also, as I understand it, LogMeIn requires a specific server software installed on the target computer. Also, it's rumored that apart from the expensive app there will be an anual cost for the service. Any truth behind this?

    I also just read that Desktop Connect just got a "video"-feature. It seems you can select an area of the screen where video / flash / whatever is shown, and the update on that part of the screen gets a lot faster. Did anyone try this out? Sounds quite appealing.
  10. colmaclean macrumors 68000


    Jan 6, 2004
    I've had no problems running RealVNC using the in-built OS X non-Mac screen sharing (which is VNC anyway!).

    Mouse control is good with it - my only complaint is that using two fingers to simulate a right click has an annoying habit of being detected as a pinch and triggers a screen zoom operation.
  11. cakbar macrumors regular

    Apr 30, 2008
    Try Teamviewer before buying anything. It's free, so the only thing you'll be wasting is a few minutes of your time.
  12. Stingray454 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Sep 22, 2009
    I did try it, and it's not all bad to be honest. What I don't like about it is that you need to generate some ID number and password on the remote computer, get that number to the iPad, and use those to log in. I much more prefer entering an IP adress and the account name/password for the user I wish to log in as. Also, the problem with apps that need specific server software is I can't probably install it on all servers I want to connect to (not all mine), so it will only work for a few of them. I prefer a VNC-compatible solution. That being said, it seems like a very nice app and the speed is better than most others. Clearly ok for a free app :)
  13. Mitchrapp macrumors 6502a

    Apr 2, 2010
    I've been using Jump for awhile now and love it. Quick and smooth. Does everything I need it to do. I play poker from poker stars on it and it feels like I'm in front of my desktop. Right clicking is a breeze.

    One I wouldn't recommend is Wyse. I used that for a bit, very clunkey and slow.
  14. DaWeav macrumors newbie


    Sep 2, 2010
    egorka, I pounced on the Jump Desktop's $5 deal too since it supported most of the options I wanted in a remote desktop app.

    Stingray454, here are some things I thought about when selecting a remote desktop app;

    First thought, Price! Especially without any re-occurring monthly fees since I'm not using it for tech support! This thought illuminated half of the competition.

    Second thought, Type of remote control protocol supported. Jump Desktop supports the two major protocols VNC and RDP, and has it's own thin client. Some of the other apps available require purchasing the VNC app and then purchasing a different app for RDP.

    Third thought, Allow non-standard ports to be selected when connecting to the host system. Example which allows tweaking the host receive listening port to 5901 (or pretty much anything I want) vice being stuck with the default 5900 VNC port or 3389 RDP port. And, Jump Desktop allows me to tweak the destination port on both VNC and RDP sessions.

    So, the only thing left for me to think about was encryption. RDP has native encryption, while VNC requires opensource encryption. Most of the hosted services with the re-occurring monthly charges provide encryption as well, but they failed my second thought. Anyway, I'm using RDP when I'm on 3G over the internet, and VNC when I'm on my private network. I hope future updates to Jump Desktop will support something like UltraVNC's data stream encryption.

    BTW, here is a sweet TIP for everyone which works with Windows RDP sessions on the iPad. (At least it works using Jump Desktop).

    If your iPad RDP app supports modifying the RDP session's screen resolution (like Jump Desktop does), then modify the RDP session screen resolution to 768x1024 instead of the standard default 1024x768. This will allow flipping the iPad into full screen portrait mode (768x1024) when viewing the remote host. I have two RDP sessions setup for the same host with one session labeled Landscape and the other session labeled Portrait depending on how I want to hold my iPad at that moment. Too bad the RDP session can't auto-switch the screen resolution when flipping the iPad between landscape and portrait, but at least this TIP works for me.
  15. vw195 macrumors 6502

    Dec 27, 2008
    I also like RealVNC, because one can access the server via a variety of means, including a java webserver
  16. japanime macrumors 68000


    Feb 27, 2006
    Here's another vote for RealVNC. I used it extensively during a four-month overseas trip, with my MacBook Pro online back at home. Worked great.
  17. Don Kosak macrumors 6502a

    Don Kosak

    Mar 12, 2010
    Hilo, Hawaii
    I use iSSH, great VNC support, nice keyboard, function key, and scaling.

    I also use it for straight SSHing into my Macs and Linux boxes.
  18. ravenvii macrumors 604


    Mar 17, 2004
    Melenkurion Skyweir
    I've also heard good things about Splashtop, which is relatively cheap at $5.

    Apparently it specializes in smooth playback, enabling you to watch videos and etc.

    I, too, am torn among Jump, Desktop, and now Splashtop.
  19. Stingray454 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Sep 22, 2009
    I finally settled for Desktop Connect. I ruled out all solutions that require serverside software to be installed, even if some of those seems to give better performance. I'll use it in my work, and I just can't persuade all my clients to start installing other remoting softwares.

    Desktop Connect had nice user interface, decent price, supports everything I need (RDP and VNC + encryption) and seems quite fast and stable. It also has a "video feature", where you can specify an area of the screen and only update that. Tried it on a video, worked pretty well. The only problem with that feature is that you can't seem to use the keyboard at the same time, which makes it a bit useless imo. Anyway, I'm happy with my purchase.

    Splashtop seems nice, but is only for RDP (=connecting to windows). As I mostly connect to Macs that won't work sadly.

    I have to say it's sad that OS X don't have a better screen sharding technology than VNC. RDP is many times faster and actually very usable, but I guess we don't have much choice as mac users :)
  20. Lagranger macrumors member

    Jun 22, 2010
    iTeleport (if you need to tunnel over SSH)

    Warning: Long post. This info is probably of more use to I.T. people and net-admins than those merely trying to share their home PC's desktop with the iPad. Still, I'm hoping some may find it useful.


    I thought I'd put in a plug for iTeleport since the OP asked specifically about VNC clients, (which I take to mean ones that use the actual VNC/RFB protocol, allowing you to connect to any compliant VNC server), not those that seem to use their own proprietary protocols such as Ignition or TeamViewer.

    When I first set out to use my iPad for remote workstation/server administration, I had a specific requirement when choosing a VNC client app -- it had to support remote sessions through SSH tunnels. (By design, the VNC/RFB protocol doesn't include any form of sophisticated encryption natively -- this was viewed as being the responsibility of the transfer mechanism, not that of the core screen-sharing protocol)

    What this means is that your remote system needs to accept SSH logins and all your VNC sessions are made through (and thus protected by) those SSH connections. You can configure a single host machine with both an SSH and VNC server, or more practically, set up a public-facing SSH server to allow TCP-forwarding for an entire internal network of VNC-enabled host machines. It also means that your firewall needs to be configured to allow incoming SSH logins -- this method does *not* rely on an external 3rd-party service to setup the connections the way some other remote desktop apps do.

    Anyway, when I looked around, there were really only two candidates that supported VNC-over-SSH: iSSH and iTeleport. For SSH shell logins, iSSH is great. It allows you to do some nifty tricks with SSH tunnels and such. Since I already owned this app on my iPhone, it was was the first one I tried on my iPad as well. The problem is that the built-in VNC client is somewhat slow. Granted this can be attributed to a number of external factors and the iSSH author has been attempting to make performance improvements to this feature in the app. However, the fact is that my VNC sessions over it were pretty bad. So although I still consider iSSH to be invaluable for shell logins, it was pretty unusable (to me) as a VNC client.

    That's when I found iTeleport. I wasn't real happy with the price ($29.95 US), but it was the only other app at the time that claimed to support SSH tunnels. After reading numerous reviews, I finally bought the app. It turns out that (with a few exceptions) it does everything I'd hoped and I now use it daily.

    Currently, I use it to remote access three types of systems: the desktop consoles of VMs running on VMware Virtual Server on an Ubuntu host (Virtual Server, like Fusion on OSX has a built-in VNC server), WinXP workstations running UltraVNC and a couple of Macs using the native Screen Sharing feature with the VNC option enabled.

    Besides the SSH tunneling capability, some notable features are the impressive performance of the screen-sharing itself, the ability to send just about any keystroke found on a standard 101-key PC keyboard and a decent mouse-pointer interface.

    So what don't I like about the app? The price is a bit higher than I'd hoped. (That being said, it allows me to be much more productive, so I feel it was worth it. However, it is still on my list of the 5 most expensive apps I own) and updates aren't all that frequent. Yet, the single biggest problem I have with iTeleport is that it doesn't support public-key authentication for SSH connections, only passwords. This makes iTeleport unusable for a few systems I support. (iSSH supports pkeys with the ability to configure an arbitrary number of key pairs to any of its login profiles). With the release of iOS 4, it may be possible to use iTeleport in conjunction with iSSH to accomplish such a feat in a limited fashion, but it would really be nice to have all this available in a single tool.

    Edit: Apparently Desktop Connect and the latest release of Jump Desktop supports SSH tunnels also. Anyone know if they do public-key authentication?
  21. Stingray454 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Sep 22, 2009
    Thanx for the info Lagranger :). Interesting read.

    Personally I don't use SSH logins that often, but it happens. Desktop Connect does offer an SSH option, and it was part of the reason why I chose that. I've heard great things about iTeleport, but the features (that I use) seem to be quite identical to DC I felt I couldn't motivate to pay almost double for it.

    I've only just started using Desktop Connect yet, so I can't really say if I lack something in the area of keystrokes / control, but everything I've done with it so far has been smooth. I hope to get my hands on a device with iTeleport installed though, it would be nice to be able to compare them. If I would need to switch for some reason, iTeleport is probably my first choice. It seems to be getting the best reviews of the VNC clients out there.

    To answer your question - I can't see that DC support public-key authentication (yet). Most of these apps seem to develop quite rapidly. I guess we'll see this in most VNC apps in a not too distant future.

    It's in times like this I wish that the appstore would offer "rented" apps - the ability to use them for a day or a few hours for a small fee to be able to evaluate it.
  22. sergeidevicevm macrumors newbie

    Sep 1, 2010
    Redwood City, CA
    Splashtop Remote for Mac

    Splashtop Remote for Mac is coming soon (I work for the company). For now, yes, Windows only.

    We actually don't use the RDP protocol. As @ravenvii pointed out, we differentiate by supporting video and audio. RDP does not really allow you to watch remote video or play flash games etc, as the screen refresh is typically too slow with RDP.
  23. 2macORnot2mac macrumors regular


    May 14, 2010

    I've recently been using Splashtop.
    Mainly for watching flash videos on my iPad.
    I watch a football game from on my ipad. It worked great!

    But I hope they get an easy firewall solution soon. Because I can't connect to my work computer when I'm at home because of it.
  24. sergeidevicevm macrumors newbie

    Sep 1, 2010
    Redwood City, CA
    Firewall crossing

    @2macORnot2mac Yep, connecting across the firewall (without port forwarding) is also coming soon in Splashtop Remote - working on it now. By the way, for folks out there who use the VPN on their iPad to connect to the office network, that is already supported.
  25. Stingray454 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Sep 22, 2009
    From experience I've seen that RDP is a lot faster than VNC, and currently VNC is all that is available when a Mac is the target system (ok, I've seen some notes about OS X RDP servers, but there are neither common nor cheap).

    If I'm reading above statements correctly, you're saying that you're using something faster than RDP that is fast enough for remote video? Also, "for now", is that implying that it will be available for other platforms in the future? I'm very much hoping for something better than VNC to access my Macs from my iPad or other devices. Any hints about future features would be nice! :)

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