Google's Chromecast is cheap and awesome, but it only performs a very specific set of functions, and even venturing out as far as tab casting gives murky results. Dell's Wyse Cloud Connect, formerly known as Project Ophelia, is a little dongle that can toss up a full Android desktop on any HDMI or MHL-enabled display, and it's now available for purchase. It comes with complete access to the Play Store, so you can use it to keep up with episodes of The Daily Show, listen to Lady Gaga, defend towers, or, you know, be productive.
You can't spend all day sitting at the computer, but sometimes remote access is almost as good. VNC Viewer from Real VNC is a way for you to connect to a computer through any number of VNC clients, and it's pretty popular. However, it used to be a $10 app. Put your wallet away – it's free now.
The app dropped to $0.99 early today, then to free. As we all know, when an app is made free in Google Play, it cannot be made into a paid app again.
TeamViewer is a household name, at least if your household does a lot of PC-based remote access. The TeamViewer QuickSupport app is mighty handy if you have to give enterprise-level support to remote Android users, but it's got one big drawback. For full remote control features you need to have a device from a specific manufacturer (or a rooted device from anyone, which is a no-no for both novice users and businesses).
Need to get at something on your desktop, but just aren't nearby? You need remote access, and many Windows PCs have that feature built right in. Microsoft's new Remote Desktop app for Android lets you hook into the included remote access system so you can use your PC from a phone or tablet. It's also completely free.
The computer you're accessing needs to be running the remote desktop host, which is not included in the basic version of Windows.
I've tried more that a few remote access apps on both Android and Windows, and TeamViewer is right up there with the best of them (especially if you work with people who can't get a handle on VLC). Today's Android app update adds some much-needed features to the mobile access app, most notably the ability to silence sound from the remote machine without turning the sound off on your Android device.
One of the better recent additions to the Chrome browser is a remote desktop tool, developed and implemented by Google and usable between any two desktop computers running Chrome. When it showed up in the Chrome Web Store, we figured that it wouldn't be too long before some kind of Android integration was developed. Googler François Beaufort announced that work has begun on "Chromoting," an Android app that allows users to control remote Chrome clients.
Today's Amazon Appstore deal is quite the bargain, and its value speaks for itself. Jump Desktop isn't the only remote desktop client out there, but it has no shortage of features. The app supports both RDP and VNC protocols, so if you have either already configured on your PC, you're good to go. Jump Desktop does not require that you install additional software on your machine. Awesome? Awesome.
The app allows you to control your computer as though it were a tablet, with pinch-zoom and two finger scrolling both supported.
Even in its current and somewhat dated form, AirDroid is easily one of the best apps on the Google Play Store. The sheer flexibility and polish of the remote access tool has made it one of the first things I install on any new device. The original AirDroid is still great, but for the last few months the development team at Sand Studio has been beta testing AirDroid version 2, with a ton of new features added to its original toolset.
Do you use AirDroid? You should. It's a fantastic piece of software. While Google tends to prefer using cloud services to manage your data, there is no central app that can access and change anything on your device. This app fills that need and does so amazingly. It's so great that we gave away 20 invites to the v2 beta recently. Now, the invite-only requirement is gone and it's available to anyone who can download it.