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REVIEW: mDesktop, a brand new phone controller app; comparison to Jeyo 2.1

OP Menneisyys

5th June 2008, 10:51 AM   |  #1  
OP Retired Moderator
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5,390 posts
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Motionapps’ mDesktop (homepage HERE) has got pretty much press coverage in the last weeks; it’s been frontpaged at PPCT / SPT (link), Dial.ca (link), PalmAddicts (link) etc. As it was me who has published the most thorough comparative(!) reviews of all the comparable solutions (see the last one HERE, making sure you follow the links to the earlier ones), I’ve given the new title a very thorough try so that I can find out whether it’s worth checking out – that is, the question no one has answered so far. Also, I’ve thoroughly tested the new features of the recently-released, 2.1 version of Jeyo Mobile Companion, the most important, directly comparable application and compared it to mDesktop.

In a nutshell, mDesktop has the following features:
  • Control your smartphone from your desktop computer or laptop with mouse (on PPC devices), scroller and/or keyboard
  • General info on you device displayed on the screen of your desktop computer or laptop (info on network provider, battery state, received SMS or e-mails etc.)

    Do all of this by using your desktop computer or laptop screen and keyboard:
  • Simple file management - view images and files on your device or transfer some from your desktop computer or laptop to it (or vice versa)
  • Tasks and appointment management (view and change existing ones or add new ones)
  • Search contacts, send SMS or e-mail
  • Call someone or respond to a call, click to put a call on hold or speakerphone, ignore call
  • Chat - no more browsing received SMS or typing in replies on your smartphone. mDesktop also saves all the words you wrote or received from someone.
  • Install applications by drag and drop - no more endless typing, tapping and clicking on your smartphone
  • Get all the system info on your smartphone displayed in one convenient place

OK, let’s see how it fares in practice and how it compares to the alternates. (Please DO read the above-linked articles; here, I will NOT present you an explanation of every single issue I list.)

First, some demo shots of the capabilities of the app:


Threaded(!) SMS list (I’ve reduced the vertical size to hide personal phone numbers and such). Another example:


As can clearly be seen, the same list contains all the incoming messages – and the outgoing ones too for a quick and easy view of what has taken place.


Listing the contacts. Unfortunately, unlike with adding new appointments, writing SMS’es, e-mails, calling a number etc., it’s not possible to add new contacts.

Desktop control

Compared to other controller tools without(!) explicit phone application / PIM support (VirtualCE 4; Pocket Controller and My Mobiler being currently the three best):

Cons
  • Very high (at least three times compared to other solutions) CPU usage all the time (NOT ONLY in desktop controller mode!!); THIS screenshot shows about 80% on the QVGA 195 MHz TI OMAP-based HTC Wizard (about 70% on the 176*220 HTC Oxygen, also based on the 195 MHz TI OMAP). This is VERY bad and should be addressed at once. Why heating up the CPU when the user doesn’t even need the most CPU-intensive desktop controller mode?
  • Can’t run on non-phone devices
  • No text copy/paste between the desktop and the mobile
  • The remote controller keeps crashing on the high-res VGA WM6.1 HTC Universal (running Ranju’s v7.6), unlike on the non-high-res the s310, s710 (both with factory ROM’s) and HTC Wizard (with the AMP WM6.1 ROM))

Minor problems:
  • No JPEG quality setting when exporting screenshots (not that big a problem – you can decrease the quality afterwards)
  • Impossible to rotate the image of the screen (would be very handy at, say, looking at landscape GAPI games, the Thunderhawk browser etc.)
  • No video recording (unlike with, say, SOTI’s Pocket Controller)
  • No TCP/IP-based remote access / control (unlike with many of the alternatives)
  • With MS Smartphones, not any kind of (virtual) stylus emulation, not even the hotkeys (which are all supported by other device controllers)

Pros
  • Direct desktop-side GUI for writing SMS and e-mail messages, making appointments etc – much faster than doing the same through the controller (like with the other tools).
  • Access to everything (file system, system state, e-mails, SMS, contacts, calendar, tasks etc – traditional remote controllers only offer access to the first two)
  • Screenshot can export in all the four most common format (albeit without JPEG quality setting)
  • The HTC S710 keyboard works; so does the s310 dialpad

Phone-specific features:

Compared to Jeyo Mobile Companion 2.1 (which has lately received really nice phone-specific functionalities)

Pros
Cons
Both mDesktop and Jeyo support threaded SMS view (see THIS) and are very similarly priced ($19.99 / $19.95)

Verdict

mDesktop is pretty promising and is better than standard remote controllers like that of SOTI if you plan to add appointments, write SMS messages etc. very often, without using for example Outlook on the desktop (and relying on ActiveSync to synch the new records to your handset). However, being version 1.0 only, it surely has some major lacking functionality otherwise present in Jeyo (and the other way around). Currently, on the whole, I’ve found Jeyo 2.1 better – as long as you don’t need to mass-enter new tasks and appointments or don’t need the remote control capabilities. If you do, you’ll want to give a try to mDesktop; otherwise, stick with Jeyo (or, if you don’t need the phone-specific desktop functionality, “only” remote controlling, one of the three most recommended remote controllers). I really hope mDesktop will be improved in the (near) future and the most annoying bugs (most importantly, the HUGE CPU usage resulting in massive overheating and slowdowns) fixed. Fort the time being, I’m a bit hesitant to nominate it for this year’s Best [Windows Mobile] Software Awards, of which I'm the Nominations Manager (also this year).
19th June 2008, 10:14 AM   |  #2  
OP Retired Moderator
Thanks Meter: 15
 
5,390 posts
Join Date:Joined: Jul 2005
Version v1.0.1 has just been released, fixing many of the issues I've pointed out, particularly the CPU usage bug.
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