Apps - Splashtop & Chrome Remote Desktop

I don't know about you but my laptop is seriously tethered to power and peripherals when I'm working. I also capture a lot of still images from my video feed... usually hundreds per day because I like to capture for every take (I only use selects from favorite takes in my notes). 

Occasionally, I need to share some of the screen captures for various reasons (talent continuity, eyeline comparisons, set continuity, etc.). It's kind of a hassle to ask people to step over to my laptop to show them an image capture. So, I'm starting to experiment more with apps for Android and iOS that will allow me to just walk over with one of my tablets or my smart phone to show my concerns.

The following apps do require a strong wifi connection to work. I will suggest a couple of non-wifi options at the end of this post.

Bonus: You can actually use these apps on your portable device to capture images while away from your laptop, which can came in handy.

Splashtop Remote Personal - Cross Platform

I've been using Splashtop in its various incarnations for a few years. It was originally released on webOS (I was a BIG Palm Pre and HP Touchpad fan). As far as I can tell, the app has now spread to every platform except Linux. 

Splashtop basically allows you to connect to your laptop and control it over wifi.  For Splashtop Personal, the laptop and portable device (a tablet or smart phone) have to be on the same wifi network. There is a paid subscription version for use when the laptop is on a different wifi network than your portable device. The laptop has to be running Splashtop's streaming software (free) and the portable device runs the Splashtop app.

After you connect your portable device to the laptop, use the portable device to open the folder with the image you need and walk over to the person you need to share it with. There will be lag, so if you want to swipe through several images, know reaction time will be slow.

Splashtop Personal 

Since the iPad Mini is more a 4:3 device (the Nexus 7 is closer to 16:9), there will be a black bar at the bottom of the screen if you choose to view using your laptop's native resolution. There are other options which work better for the iPad Mini screen but it will play havoc with your laptop screen (at least they do for me and it drives me crazy).

Here are the screen resolution choices for the iPad Mini

Chrome Remote Desktop - Android Devices only but coming to iOS later this year.

Chrome Remote Desktop works similar to Splashtop but it uses Google's Chrome browser as the server. This means it works with Windows and OSX computers but only Android devices can be used for access an control (a Chromebook would work as well). The Google Chrome Blog states that an iOS app will be released later this year.

One big difference between Splashtop and Chrome Remote Desktop (CRD) is that with CRD your laptop can use one wifi signal while your portable device can be on another (or a cell signal). It's free and does not incur additional charges as with Splashtop (though I feel Splashtop works a little better).

Android Police wrote a great article on how it works and doesn't work.

Here is how Chrome Desktop Remote looks running on my Nexus 7 and Samsung Galaxy S3.

Other options

For those times when you don't have access to a good wifi connection or you're having issues with the apps there are a couple of other options to try.

  • Use your phone or tablet to take a picture of your laptop screen with the images you need to share enlarged to full screen. It's easy and quick but you'll very likely have a lot of reflection issues (not necessarily a deal breaker)
  • I have also copied the whole folder of captured images to my tablet or phone. It takes a moment or two for the images to index but then I can quickly scroll through everything. The drawback is that the images take up a lot of space (not a problem on my Android phone since I have a large SD card installed). You also have to update the images frequently if you need to share them a lot. You can copy just select images as needed as well.