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LogMeIn Pro review: LogMeIn Pro and LogMeIn Ignition for iPhone

Remote access doesn't get much simpler than LogMeIn, but don't expect it to do absolutely everything for you.

Alex Kidman
Alex Kidman is a freelance word writing machine masquerading as a person, a disguise he's managed for over fifteen years now, including a three year stint at ZDNet/CNET Australia. He likes cats, retro gaming and terrible puns.
Alex Kidman
4 min read

Features

Remote access to PCs has historically been the domain of people in well pressed suits and the greasy T-shirt wearing IT departments that support them, and less so for your average suburban grandmother. The business case for being able to remotely and securely access your documents is long established, but it's a facility that's coming more to the fore in the consumer space, with a number of technologies, such as the homegroup facility present within Windows 7, offering remote access to your files. We've taken a look at LogMeIn's solution, which has traditionally been offered and of interest to business clients, but with the view to seeing how well it worked as a consumer product.

7.7

LogMeIn Pro

The Good

Simplified access to multiple PCs. Free client available. Minimal set-up.

The Bad

No Pro Mac client. Some remote functions don't work all that well. Windows 7 support is sketchy.

The Bottom Line

Remote access doesn't get much simpler than LogMeIn, but don't expect it to do absolutely everything for you.

The range of products that LogMeIn offers can be a little daunting at first, but ultimately there's really only three that extend into the SOHO/consumer space. There's the basic LogMeIn Free client, the paid LogMeIn Pro client and the paid LogMeIn Ignition iPhone client.

The free client is available for PCs and Macs, and offers a very simple suite of remote desktop control features. It's worth noting that the key word here is "control". When you log into a remote computer with LogMeIn, you'll assume control of it, with a small dialog appearing in the top right-hand corner of the remote PC's screen informing them that you're at work. If you don't see that pop-up window, assume something bad's happening to your system.

The Pro client offers the same remote control facility with the added features of remote printing, remote file transfer via drag and drop, drive mapping, remote sound and file synchronisation. The interesting catch here is that while the free client is available for Mac and Windows computers, Pro is to date a Windows-only option.

Then there's LogMeIn Ignition for iPhone. At AU$36.99, it's pricey for an iPhone app, and it's interesting to note that its feature set essentially mirrors that of the free app, rather than the Pro app. Then again, it's intended as a companion piece of software to an existing LogMeIn account, rather than a tool in its own right, and at least at the time of writing the iPhone's Safari browser wasn't capable in our testing of just logging in via the web interface.

Performance

Installing LogMeIn is a thankfully simple process. An email account is all you need to set up an account, at which point you'll be asked if the computer you're logging into is one you'd like to remotely control. This will set in place a simple application download and install. Click through that, and you're done with installation. LogMeIn's smart enough to not let you log in from the same system you're trying to access, but you generally don't need to install anything on a remote system browser, although Firefox does have an optional plug-in.

For a system that sells itself on simplicity, we were rather taken aback by the first thing we saw when logging into our test Windows XP system. A black screen of nothingness. A little Google research indicated that sometimes the graphics driver that LogMeIn tries to emulate can cause this condition, and going into the preferences and disabling the Mirror driver did fix our problem, although it may have contributed to some of our video problems later on.

As noted, the paid Pro version offers a lot of additional functions such as file copying, remote printing and remote sound, but these are Windows-only functions on both the client and server side. We could access a Windows machine with a Pro account from a Mac, but not stream sound, for example. Our attempts to get the LogMeIn client to run on a Windows 7 RC1 were met with a brick wall of installation failures, and online research didn't help much with a variety of fixes that we couldn't get working. With the strong Windows focus of the application, hopefully that's something that will be rectified shortly.

Remotely accessing your home PCs seems like black magic to many, and it's not a bad party piece, but beyond that it's still something we could only find a few consumer-level uses for. It's sometimes useful to be able to remotely access photo libraries or listen to remote PC-based audio. Video fared much worse, with choppy frame rates and badly out of sync sound as a result.

The other obvious use for LogMeIn would be in the oft-dreaded case of being your family's technical support. While most operating systems have had remote client sharing as a feature for some time, there's few that operate as seamlessly as LogMeIn, and it'd certainly beat a 30-minute phone call while you try to get grandma just to click on the start button. Not that we're speaking from experience, or anything.

On the iPhone side of things, the client works quite well, with options to drop the screen resolution and colour depth on a temporary basis to improve overall speed. Pinching and zooming around the screen works well. There's no sound support, and our tests with video left us with large black boxes where video should be.

LogMeIn does admittedly sell itself predominantly to the aforementioned business crowd, and given the lighter needs of the consumer-led audience a mix of the iPhone client (where needed) and the free client are arguably sufficient.