Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Remote Control Of My SDR PCs: Another Change

In February, 2016 I moved away from long-time favourite LogMeIn Pro to Teamviewer. LMI was charging more and more, and Teamviewer had a free account for non-commercial customers. For me, it was a no-brainer. You can read more about it here.

I would live well with the regular and rather persisting calls to buy a license, like everytime I closed a session. But then one day, Teamviewer informed me that they had "discovered" that my account was in commercial use. So they stripped my access to one minute per session. "Pay up, or get lost". Well, they didn't put it quite like that, but I got the message. A license covering my PCs would be around USD 800 a year, around the same as LogMeIn Pro. What it was they discovered was "commercial" is beyond me. I suspect that the algorithm was: "Many PCs, surely a business!"

Message of doom from Teamviewer: "Upgrade to a professional licence to continue"

Time to look around for alternatives. I tested a few, and to cut a long evening short, I ended up with Splashtop. It's not free, but control of 10 PCs (I have 8 all in all) is only USD 60 per year. It has good quality audio, contrary to many competitors which have no audio at all! The user interface is good, almost on par with Teamviewer and LMI, and no worries about IP addresses and firewalls. Splashtop offers a 7-day trial with full functionality, so no wasted money should you find out that Splashtop doesn't meet your needs. Regrettably, I spent USD 7 for RemotePC only to find out it was mute.

Initially, Splashtop seems more complicated than their premium-priced competitors, in that you have to install two software packages: First Streamer, which takes care of the server bit in the remote PC, and then Splashtop Business, which is the interface you work with to connect to the remote PC. After installing Streamer you can more or less forget about it after checking and/or selecting some settings.

Streamer. Review and/or edit the parameters, and forget about it.

Splashtop Business is installed in the PCs you use to access remote PCs. This could be a single PC, or all of them, depending on your need. Like LMI and Teamviewer, this interface lists the PCs you have in your account, and the status - offline, available or connected.

The link between you and your remote PCs.

When a PC is selected (like the one above), connection takes a few seconds (a bit more than Teamviewer), and this is what you see:

Some basic controls (far fewer than Teamviewer) are in the red rectangle on top. Audio quality is very good, comparable to sitting in front of it except a little loss in the below 100 Hz spectrum, which is really an advantage. Audio latency is very low, and without the pops and occasional high (up to 2 seconds) audio latency I had with Teamviewer. Video quality is good, but not quite on par with Teamviewer and LMI. However, if the remote PC has a GeForce Nvidia graphics board, Streamer will utilise this to present excellent video, comparable to sitting in front of it! There is a downside here though, because if you are using SDR Console, you need to disable CUDA to prevent Console from freezing. They use the same resources. Alternatively, you can disable GeForce from Streamer.

Splashtop has received mixed ratings, mostly because of limited functionality. However these limitations do not apply for the dedicated DX-er, so for our use I'd say this is as good as it gets for the price tag. I am still on my 7-day trial, but I will buy. Even if Teamviewer accepts my appeal.

1 comment:

Per Eriksson said...

You are not alone, Bjarne. Same message has popped up here.

Have no clue, other than several pcs, why I am restricted. My use today is not different to a year, or two, ago...

In the search for alternatives I have also found RemotePC. A really good program with a decent price, but it does unfortunately not support audio at all at this point. I know that the developers have this on their to-do-list, but if or when this feature will go live, I do not know.

Google Chrome Remote Desktop is a very basic and free alternative. Will also try Splashtop.