Networking

Review: TeamViewer Touch for remote connections

If you are a Windows 8/RT tablet user that wants a tablet-optimized means to access other systems remotely, TeamViewer Touch is worth a try.

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 For those looking for a remote desktop access solution that doesn't involve any fancy configuration know-how, TeamViewer is one of the more interesting solutions out there today. Not only is the software available for multiple platforms, such as Windows, OS X, and Linux, but TeamViewer is essentially free for use in non-commercial settings, or for a reasonable, one-time purchase license fees when used in a for-profit business. With Windows 8.1 and Windows RT tablets becoming all the rage, TeamViewer is now available in a tablet-friendly user interface edition, simply called TeamViewer Touch.

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Product Information

  • Title: TeamViewer Touch
  • Company: TeamViewer
  • Supported OS: Windows 8, 8.1 and RT

TeamViewer Touch

This rather welcome addition to the many versions available can be acquired via the Windows Store for free. After a quick download and installation, you will quickly find out that, despite being a cut-down version of the desktop counterpart, TeamViewer Touch is still quite functional. You can either connect to a random remote session by providing the destination machine's unique TeamViewer ID number and passcode, or you can log into your TeamViewer account and select a remote machine from a list of machines you've saved.

All the normal functions for operation, such as the on screen keyboard, CTRL+ALT+DEL combo button (for help logging into Windows) and disconnect button, are tucked away while a session is live on-screen, thus leaving your entire tablet screen free to access the remote session with virtually no obstruction. If you need to call up the additional functions, you simply click or tap the small blue bar with the session ID number inside. Basic finger gestures are supported as well, such as pinch to zoom, two finger drag to scroll and tap and hold to right click.

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I had no problems getting around on my Linux desktop using the tablet.

Remote connections

In my test, I opted to connect to a remote Elementary OS Linux desktop and see how that fared in terms of navigability and refresh speed. And, as predicted, I was able to select items, drag objects, and input commands using my keyboard. Connection quality was quite variable, taking up to a minute for my session to switch to a high-color type mode, thus eliminating the rather messy looking low-color display. Sometimes, if I would perform several functions at once, like minimizing or maximizing windows, a partial "ghost" of what the object looked like before would remain on screen for a brief moment. This is likely due to less than satisfactory connection issues I was experiencing at the time.

When it comes to the app and what it sets out to do, I feel that TeamViewer Touch does a rather admirable job at transposing a tablet-style interface for Windows 8 hosts for finger-friendly usage. That being said, there are a few notable limitations that should be mentioned, as the app isn't cut down for size without reason.

For starters, you can connect to other sessions, but not set yourself up as a host without grabbing the desktop version of TeamViewer first. Sadly, if you are running on Windows RT, you are plain out of luck, since the desktop release of TeamViewer is only available for x86-based Windows 8. Also, TeamViewer uses their own servers to act as a middle-man between systems and isn't a true end-to-end direct connection, thus some additional lag and added sluggish behavior may occur. For casual usage, this typically isn't a concern. But if you need a snappier experience, you might wish to opt for TightVNC or RDP instead.

Bottom line

Still, despite these downsides, they tend to pose only minor inconveniences. The touch interface is simple, stays mostly out of the way while you work remotely and allows for easy navigation without the need for a physical keyboard and mouse. If you find yourself using a tablet often and like to administrate systems remotely, then TeamViewer Touch is definitely worth checking out, especially since it's free to use. Do you have a favorite remote access product for tablets or otherwise that you would like to recommend? Leave a note in the comments section.

About

An avid technology writer and an IT guru, Matthew is here to help bring the best in software, hardware and the web to the collective consciousness of TechRepublic's readership. In addition to writing for TechRepublic, Matthew currently works as a Cus...

5 comments
dirtyvu
dirtyvu

I love Teamviewer!!!  We install it on all our PCs at work.  Because of Teamviewer, I can run programs like Photoshop on my Surface RT with mouse and all.

Genry100
Genry100

You may also like free for business and home AEROADMIN.

TV is great but i'm not sure every company IT budget can justify such enormous cost.

nickyanashi
nickyanashi

Irritating is the connected clients have to be on the new version! How to ensure that? Support is bad for FREE users.

fred64
fred64

I have been using team viewer for a couple years now.  I didn't take long, after I discovered it back then, to dump all my other remote access tools.   Its been a capable tool, easy to use and very reliable for me. 

Based on this, I think the touch is worth a try.  Thanks Mathew.

Mark Kaelin Personal
Mark Kaelin Personal

Do you access systems via a tablet? How does that work for you? What tools do you use?

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