There’s a lot of competition in the remote control software market, and for personal use our money has been on the free, browser-based LogMeIn for some time. But with the new version of TeamViewer, that’s all changed. Its appeal is much the same as LogMeIn’s: it’s free for personal use and you can remotely control as many PCs as you like. Performance is comparable between the two, and both let you control Linux, Windows and Mac computers.
The key advantage that TeamViewer holds over LogMeIn is its flexibility. First, you don’t have to set up an account to get started – just install the software on each machine, give them passwords, and type in the unique generated identifying number at the other end. Alternatively, for one-shot support jobs, a non-installing executable can be downloaded.
Creating an account and registering PCs has benefits: it makes managing multiple machines easier, and also opens up the ability to use the browser-based interface for machines on which you don’t want to install the software permanently.
Once you’re in, it looks even more impressive. The toolbar along the top of the remote control window offers not only the usual scaling and image quality options, but also a quick file-transfer window, video, VoIP and instant messaging tools, the ability to set up conferencing calls between multiple machines, and even establish a VPN connection for transferring files.
Smartphone owners will be pleased to discover there are free apps for iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and Android handsets, too – a feature LogMeIn users have to pay around $30 for. There are some niggles. We don’t like being unable to stretch-to-fit in full-screen mode, and the software launches a gentle nag box whenever you terminate a session, but these are small complaints in the overall scheme of things. TeamViewer 6’s nippy performance, simple operation and sheer flexibility make it our new favourite remote control tool.