Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Benchmark video: Great 24/7 remote desktop service AlwaysOnPC receives audio & Flash video streaming support (at last)

When, more than a year ago, I've reviewed (and recommended) the 24/7 remote desktop service (and its iOS client) AlwaysOnPC, I've mentioned it still didn't have audio transfer support - unlike, say, even the free version of LogMeIn.

Now, it has been added. The AppStore update page:

Compared to the other, established, audio-enabled video / Flash streamers (see the UPDATE sections in my original article), it doesn't really excel. For example, fohlen.tv (see the 07/14/2012 update in my original article) doesn't work at all, unlike in iSwifter, Photon and Puffin. Videos that do work (for example, THIS one - see the 06/22/2012 update) are played back considerably slower than in Photon. I've made a comparison video of the playback of this video in  AlwaysOnPC (running on an iPad 3 - it's on the left) and Photon white iPad 2 on the right):

(direct YouTube link)

As you can see, Photon is way faster.

Of strictly Flash radios or audio recordings, http://music.cbc.ca/ (see the 07/28/2012 update) does work.

All in all, you do NOT want to use this app for Flash video streaming! While, at last, it's supported and (to some degree) working, it's not as good as in the top iOS Flash players. That is, the real strength of this app is not in its Flash (video) streaming, but remote access to full desktop Web browsers, Office apps, Java and anything running under Linux - something sorely missing on the iOS platform.

Note that I've been discussing those other Flash browsers in several iOS forums very actively - for example, HERE is a very recent MacRumors thread I've posted a lot of info to.

Other remarks:

- there still isn't file transfer in the app itself. You can, however, use DropBox for (indirect) file transfer. Definitely not as nice as LogMeIn Pro's solution - but is much-much cheaper: you only need to pay once for lifetime remote desktop access as opposed to the annual $100 for the LogMeIn Pro service.

- as with the older versions, mouse works just fine with the new, commercial BTC Mouse & Trackpad (review) - as opposed to the old, free BTstack Mouse.

- the Moonlight project seems to be pretty much dead, meaning you won't really be able to access a lot of Silverlight (something not at all supported on iOS) content. Most Web videos are incompatible with the current versions. After installing the latest 4-series beta, a typical screenshot (in Finnish) telling me to check whether my Moonlight version is greater than 4.0.60831.0 when trying to play back the videos at the Finnish MTV3 Katsomo:

(BTW, the screenshot also shows two mouse icons - I used the above-mentioned BTC Mouse & Trackpad to control the remote desktop.)

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