Logitech Touchmouse App

Posted by : Rob Stevens | Wednesday, February 03, 2010 | Published in

For my media centre at home I have pretty simple system of a PC connected to my TV via S-Video and the sound run through my stereo system. I'd previously been controlling it either via a wireless keyboard and mouse, or by using the free version of VNC. Both of these have drawbacks. The keyboard and mouse are an absolute bitch to keep paired. They both run through the same receiver and every time the batteries go on one of them it takes large amounts of time resetting, swearing, resetting again and more often than not, failing to get both to pair. This is were VNC usually comes in. For the most part it's OK, but it does get really laggy when watching streaming video (Youtube, iPlayer, etc.). This gets really annoying when you start watching something and it takes 20-30 seconds of frantic scrabbling before the volume can be pursuaded to go low enough for the building to stop rattling. I had been thinking of trying out keyboard and mouse with seperate receivers to cut down on the bitchiness, but obviously this is an outlay of cash that I would rather avoid.

Enter my latest iPhone based toy. At the end of last week the Logitech Blog announced an iPhone app and corresponding computer service that allows you to use your iPhone as a touchpad mouse, and includes the usual iPhone keyboard. The app offers a three button mouse with configurable tracking speed (I found the default needed turning down a bit), and two finger hoizontal/vertical scrolling (again with ajustable speed). The app apparently works on the iPod Touch as well and is available for free from the Apple App Store.

The app and server seem to work very well. There is the occasional stutter, but I expect this will be ironed out through performance tweaking in later realeases. The only major thing that's missing that I would like to see from this is the ability to create access lists on the server end of things. As it stands, anyone joining the same wireless network will be able to connect and control any computer on the network running the service. The app doesn't give any sort of visual feedback, so actually doing anything would rely on guesswork, but being a picky, security minded type, it's a hole I'd rather wasn't left open. The other minor niggle is that the connection seems to drop when the iPhone goes to sleep, meaning that you have to disconnect and reconnect to keep using it. Again, hopefully these minor issues will be corrected.

Overall, an excellent app that provided a much needed scratch for my mediacentre itch.

Edit: Just in case any of the good folks at Logitech happen to see this, I have another addition to my feature wish list, this time on the UI front. It would be good if there was an option to choose the screen position of the mouse buttons. I think I would find using the app more intuative if the mouse buttons were at the bottom of the screen, in a similar position to those on a laptop trackpad. Having them at the top feels awkward and can require two hands to perform tasks that could be done with one with suggested layout.

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