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Zaurus Software Reviews: WinConnect Z
By Steve Emms

Remote Desktop is a feature of Windows XP Professional, which allows you to remotely control the PC. The XP machine might be accessed via ethernet in the same room or building, or thousands of miles away over the internet.

Matt Chapman wrote a program called rdesktop which allows you to access a Windows NT terminal server via the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). This runs on most UNIX platforms, but of course doesn't run on the Zaurus PDA. Here steps in WinConnect Z, a RDP client for the Sharp SL-5000.

WinConnect Z lets you control a MS Windows terminal server or Windows XP Professional. Before installing WinConnect Z, you must ensure that you have installed Remote Desktop on the Windows XP machine.

No installation problems were encountered. On startup the user is presented with a connection manager, which allows you to store the profiles of the Windows servers you wish to control. To connect to the server, you need to provide an IP address, the resolution, color depth, logon user name with password, and the logon domain.

Two things are worth noting at this stage. You have the choice of using a zoomed 480x640 resolution or a 240x320 (unzoomed) resolution. The screenshots on the left hand side use 480x640, at a 16 bit color depth. I chose this resolution as it's quite difficult to control the XP server at the unzoomed resolution.

You'll notice from the screenshots that there is a floating toolbar on the screen. This lets you zoom in on the desktop, with the four arrow keys for navigation around the desktop. You can see Internet Explorer running on screenshot 1, Windows updates available on screenshot 2 and defragmenting of the hard disk about to begin on screenshot 3.

So why would you want to remotely control a Windows machine on a Zaurus? Well, for starters the Zaurus weighs a fraction of the server. Connect a wireless ethernet CF card to the Zaurus and you can monitor the server without being tied to the server. For a business, remote administration can have enormous cost savings, as you can access the customers' PCs without the travelling expenses.

There are lots of remote access tools on the market, a free one being Virtual Networking Computing (vnc). vnc is available for the Zaurus, and this represents a free way of controlling your Windows server. But WinConnect Z has many advantages. While vnc is remarkably efficient when Linux is the server operating system, it is quite sluggish when the server is Windows. However, WinConnect Z was remarkably quick in use. Even though the connection profile states Sound is no, there's currently no way of changing this setting; there's no sound passed to the Zaurus.

Documentation consists of a PDF file but WinConnect Z doesn't really need much explaining. It's a commercial application that adds additionally credibility to this tiny Linux PDA. Another killer application for the Zaurus.

Product Details:

Name: WinConnect Z
Price: $49.95
Pros: Excellent RDP client for the Zaurus
Cons: Price
Rating: 8/10

Back to Zaurus Software Reviews

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