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Stream PC games to your Android device with Remotr

This free app lets you play Shadow of Mordor, Tomb Raider and other desktop titles. But does it really work?

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You can stream nearly any game from your PC to your Android device -- provided you can master the controls. Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

The concept of streaming games to a mobile device is nothing new. Nvidia's Grid service, for example, allows players to access PC games via the company's Shield console and tablet, while Limelight Game Streaming opens the door to Android devices -- provided you have an Nvidia GameStream-compatible PC.

Remotr opens the door even further, letting you play just about any PC game on just about any Android device. It's free, and it works -- but with some caveats.

The service consists of a Windows client and Android app (with an iPhone version in the works). I tested it using a reasonably powerful Core i7 system and Google Nexus 7 tablet.

What Remotr does, in a nutshell, is mirror your PC's screen to the mobile device, while the app provides a front-end interface for choosing the game you want to play.

Just as important, it supplies onscreen controls to take the place of whatever controller, keyboard and/or mouse setup you use on your PC.

To get started, you simply download and install the Windows client (which is compatible with Windows 7 and later), then install Remotr on your Android device. You'll need to create an account, then sign into it with both tools. That's how Remotr is able to stream not just over local Wi-Fi networks, but also over data ones.

With those steps done, you should see your PC listed within the app. Tap it to bring up a nicely tiled selection of the games you have installed, then tap any one of them to run it.

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RemoteMyApp

And that's where things take a turn for the confusing, as it's not immediately clear how to set up or even access in-game controls. For example, although I was able to get Tomb Raider up and running, I had no idea how to recreate my desktop mouse and keyboard controls. And for the moment, developers RemoteMyApp offer almost zilch in the way of documentation.

With some fiddling, however (starting with tapping the magic-wand icon to bring up the control-creator options), I was able to produce onscreen WASD and mouse equivalents. And from there I was able to at least move Lara Croft around. Remotr has built-in control profiles for Counter-Strike and Team Fortress, but it would be great if it had a whole lot more.

Ultimately, I can't see myself playing games this way, as the controls -- even once they were mapped correctly -- would feel like a constant struggle. And there are so many great Android-native games, and even Android ports of desktop games, that for the most part I don't see the point.

That said, Remotr does work as advertised, and in Tomb Raider, at least, the action was surprisingly smooth. If you have even a passing interest in playing desktop games on your phone or tablet, there's certainly no downside to giving Remotr a try.