Parallels Access lets you control your PC or Mac with your iPad

Parallels Access is a new app that lets you do serious business from your frivolous tablet, translating desktop programs like Word into touch-friendly apps.

Fancy working outside on your iPad in the last of the summer sunshine? Need to get a proper presentation or some heavy-duty spreadsheeting done? You need not be stymied, my sun-loving chum -- Parallels Access is a new app that lets you do serious business from your frivolous tablet.

You'll probably be aware of Parallels, the Mac software that lets you run Windows in what's known as a virtual environment. Access takes some of that know-how and brings it to iOS. Essentially it's a remote access app -- you're controlling your grown-up desktop computer from your toy-like slate. The clever bit is that it translates your mouse-and-keyboard programs into touchscreen apps.

It comes at a high price, though. The app itself is free, but each computer you want to access from, er, Access costs $80 (about £50) per year. Fortunately there's a free 14-day trial for Macs, and 90 days for Windows, because the latter is still in beta.

Access is designed to work with Microsoft Office, and lets you use standard iOS shortcuts such as cut and paste, and pinch-to-zoom and swipe-to-scroll, just as if they were native iOS apps. Important keys such as Escape and the directions, which aren't on the iOS keyboard, are just a click away.

My colleague Jason Parker, who had a preview of Access ahead of its launch today, said the main drawback is that it's less responsive than using a desktop PC -- you have to wait for your touch input to travel over the Internet to your computer and back again. This makes games unplayable, and normal work slower.

What would you use Access for? Is it too expensive? Let me know what you think if you've used it, either down in the comments or remotely, via the virtual environment of our Facebook page.

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