I had the chance to try the new LapLink Everywhere version 4 as part of their beta test group. While the main functionality is the PC remote control, I think the software and service show great potential in another area: mobilising personal content. That's why I'll not put much attention to the desktop client for file transfer or remote control, but instead look at this software from the mobile user point of view.
LapLink Everywhere is easy to install and it will run a small client on your computer. This client will securely talk to the LapLink servers using standard secure ports, so it can go through most firewalls (except those that block the specific secure port, of course). When a client (you or me) wants to connect to the remote PC the communication is done through the LapLink server, so that no firewall changes are needed to allow connections to the remote computer.
The whole thing works really well, with a good user experience. How many times you wanted to send a file to someone, but remembered this file is on your computer at home or office - and you only have your Smartphone or PDA on you? Or you are sure you have a specific webpage bookmarked Ė on your home computer?
The web interface on a desktop computer (click to enlarge)
In these not so rare occasions a remote control software is perhaps not the best option - in general this approach would go quite fast through the GPRS, CDMA or Wi-Fi data allowance. And here comes this software to help us: LapLink Everywhere 4 acts as a personal server and the content is your own: files, email, contacts, appointments, media, even your web bookmars (on Microsoft Internet Explorer). The most interesting part is how it copes with web-enabled mobile devices.
The web interface on Pocket Internet Explorer: low bandwidth required
All personal information just a tap away
On the remote PC side configuration is very flexible. The software allows one or more accounts to be created, with different access levels. We can then configure our preferred e-mail client (Outlook Express or Outlook) and set some other security options and preferences.
When I need to check or go through my content I just go to the LapLink everywhere login page on my Pocket PC or Smartphone and a low bandwidth page (mainly text only) will be presented. After I log in a simple menu will give me different options available.
The e-mail, contacts and calendar entries are retrieved directly from my Outlook profile (in my case I use Exchange Server, and this wasn't a problem). I can add, edit or delete any of these items, and even reply, forward or create new e-mail directly from these web pages.
Checking my e-mail: works with Outlook (Internet and Exchange modes, Outlook Express)
Adding a new contact to Outlook, from anywhere
I can also drill down through my file system, or through the configured/allowed folders and find files. Once I have a selection I can delete or forward this file via e-mail. When I send a file via e-mail I am presented with two options: either attach the original file to the outgoing e-mail, or send a secure link to the recipient with instructions for downloading the file. This link can be configured to be valid from one to any number of days. Very convenient for time sensitive material and when a limited distribution is required (although of course once a file is downloaded then it is out of any control).
Personal folders and drives in my remote computer: controlled access through access lists
Sending an e-mail with a file attached: no download required
If you have the Google Desktop Search tool installed on your computer, a web interface is available for remote search. So, for example you want to find a Microsoft Word document to send to a business partner, but you can't remember the location or name. No problem: from LapLink Everywhere we start a search and from the results returned from the Google Desktop Search we can forward the document.
Google Desktop Search away from your desktop
The software also offers the LapLink companion, a sort of redirector that will synchronise a Windows Mobile Pocket PC or Palm OS device with your computer. Instead of having to rely on ActiveSync or HotSync a small software is installed on your handheld, and you can then synchronise over any network (wired or wireless) directly to your computer. It beats Remote ActiveSync or Network Hotsync in ease to use, since it requires no firewall configuration.
With the LapLink companion you can connect, download and upload updates to PIM (Contacts, Calendar, Tasks, Notes) and e-mail. You can then work offline, and the next youíre connected the e-mails are sent and PIM data updated.
As I wrote before, Iím looking at LapLink Everywhere 4 from the mobile userís point of view. The Windows version however includes a couple of additional features, including a two panel file transfer utility, remote control and more options for file actions.
LapLink uses the Windows Remote Desktop services, so it is ready to go with minimum footprint required on Windows XP based machines - but it still works on Windows 2000 and older setups of course.
I have to say that in terms of remote control I feel comfortable with my user experience on a competing service, GoToMyPC. But this is not the only feature on LapLink Everywhere. What I really like in it - and convinced me that this software is worth keeping in my computer - is the built-in personal content server.
The software licence is based the number of computers you want to access or remote control. Prices vary from US$8.95/month (1 PC content access) through US$19.95 (3 PC with remote control). There are yearly plans as well.
Streamlined web interface, perfect for mobile users on Pocket PC, Smartphones and Palm OS devices
No firewall configuration required
Price is adequate
No remote control client for Pocket PC or Palm
File actions on web browser (PDA version) are only Send and Delete.