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-- by John D. Ruley
Add remote control software to a Windows CE pocket computer, and you've got a whole new world of Windows desktop applications and data handling. So far, we've only seen one program that does this successfully: pcAnywhere CE.
Testing pcAnywhere CE on a Casio Cassiopeia A-10 pocket computer running Windows CE 1.0, we remotely controlled both Windows 95- and NT 4.0-based systems (the app also works on host NT 3.51 systems). A standard Windows setup program installs the host software on your PC. Installation on the pocket computer itself requires a Microsoft HPC (Handheld PC) Explorer connection from the desktop or notebook.
Once it's up and connected, pcAnywhere CE works like a charm. Initially intending only to read e-mail, we wound up running the program all day. Its feature set offers standard remote control, plus cut-and-paste options, but it lacks support for binary file transfer.
It's easy to start a pcAnywhere CE session. On the host, you simply pick a connection type (modem, COM port or remote network) and optionally enter a log-on name and password. On the pocket computer, you then choose "Add remote control item" from pcAnywhere's menu, and select a connection type, phone number or IP address, user name and password. This creates a new icon on the menu; double-clicking on that icon starts the connection process. We used 28.8Kb-per-second modem connections-both directly and over the Internet-as well as direct serial connections at 19.2Kbps and 115Kbps. All worked well.
The remote-control functions are nicely implemented. EzScroll lets you maneuver the small (480x240 pixels or less) pocket-computer window over the PC screen by tapping and dragging. On the CE screen, a zoom feature permits an overview of the PC display, and a well-designed set of toolbars simplifies navigation among features.
We found one problem: The software doesn't detect the serial cable's disconnection during an HPC Explorer remote networking session. If accidentally disconnected, you must manually check the "Allow communications with desktop computer when pocket computer is attached" box in your communications settings before proceeding.
How usable is this program? We wrote this review in Microsoft Pocket Word and copied it to Clipboard. We cut and pasted the text to a desktop word processor, checked spelling and e-mailed it. You won't want to use the program for hours at a time (squinting into the Cassiopeia full time ensures eyestrain), but when you really need it, pcAnywhere works well.