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Pocket PC screen rotation, access and remote control

 
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Serge_A
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Joined: Nov 03, 2003
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2003 8:47 am    Post subject: Pocket PC screen rotation, access and remote control Reply with quote

Smile dotPocket 2.1, by Aurorisoft Inc, is a bipolar software package clearly meant to compete with some of the bundled software packages currently available. Itís all about control - it allows you change the resolutions of your Pocket PC screen, as well as control your Pocket PC remotely with your desktop computer. But can these different packages be wed successfully into one application? Read on...



Itís all about control. dotPocket 2.1, by Aurorisoft Inc, aims to give Pocket PC users more control over their PPCs: It seeks to give control over Pocket PC screen resolutions and it seeks to allow users to control their Pocket PCs remotely from their desktop computers. This single package is a competitor to bundled packages like the Nyditot Virtual Display/Pocket Controller bundle which has been discussed here in the past. While it not a completely polished package, for the price it is well worth your time to check this software out.

There are two components to the dotPocket software: one package resides on the PPC, and the other on the desktop. While they are intertwined, both have a different focus.
PART 1 - Display Control
(or how to make your PPC screen bigger without breaking the case)
The Pocket PC component mainly controls the PPC display resolution. This means that you can effectively increase the size of your Pocket PC screen, or change the orientation. This comes in very handy for viewing things like a wide Excel spreadsheet, or a Textmaker word processing document. There are preset resolutions of 240x320 (the default Pocket PC resolution), 360x480, 480x640, and 600x800, with configurations for portrait and landscape orientations. You can take resolution all the way up to 600X800, but of course, since you canít physically make your screen any bigger, everything on the screen gets smaller, making text sometimes illegible. However, the software developer was smart enough to foresee this and the software has a zoom control.

When the dotPocket PPC software is running, a small red square appears on the screen. This is the control interface for dotPocket. Tapping on this square (which can be relocated anywhere on the screen so that it is out of your way) causes the display to change to the normal resolution, but with a virtual desktop. That means that the red square sprouts directional arrows and you can use it to scroll all around the extended PPC screen. You can set the resolution to 600x800, and then use the zoom-in function to view your work at a normal size and then pan around the screen, and zoom back out again. Tapping on the red square at this resolution gives you a menu of other dotPocket options, including the ability to change resolutions. Changing the resolution necessitates a soft reset of the unit, but once a resolution is selected, then it's a one-click deal to flip the orientation 180 degrees. You can also set your own custom resolution but beware: by going away from the established screen proportions, you can come up with some pretty goofy distortions.

Interestingly, I typically use Developer Oneís Screen snap software to capture PPC images for these reviews, but when I was using dotPocket, I couldnít get Screen snap to work. Very interesting.... read below for a description of how l got screen grabs.

The Pocket PC component also allows for the setting of security controls and displays your current IP address, but more about that in a minute.
PART 2 - Remote Control
(or how to use your $1200.00 desktop computer to input text on your PPC)

The desktop component is a Pocket PC remote control. When your PPC is connected (either via ActiveSync or wirelessly) a window pops up on your desktop showing the image of your Pocket PC screen. This is a live connection, and using the mouse you can click on areas of the PPC screen in the windows, and the PPC will respond as if you had actually touched the screen itself. This allows you to access all of the information in your pda without having to take it out of its cradle, etc, and since you can use the desktop computer keyboard, you can also enter information into PPC apps much faster than by writing. One missing feature, however, is access from the desktop to the hardware buttons. Not a big deal, but this would be nice.

But that's not all the remote software can do. The software also has screen capture functionality. As mentioned above, I had trouble getting my screen capture application to work, but I used the dotPocket desktop component to grab all of my screenshots without so much as a hiccup. However, beyond static screenshots, the software also allows for the creation of an AVI video of the screen - great for creating a tutorial for some application or process on the Pocket PC. Both of these functions give you great control of file naming and locations to save to and worked very well.

The software also has a file manager function which allows you to move files more quickly and easily that you can use the dreaded ActiveSync. This feature worked well for me to move files to my IPaq, but consistently crashed when trying to bring files from the IPaq to my desktop.

As mentioned above, the desktop software connects to the Pocket PC via ActiveSync or a wireless connection. Using the security settings on the Pocket PC component, you can lock out access when cradled, and more importantly when set up for a wireless connection. This second option is a great feature, and I successfully connected over a Linksys Wi-Fi setup to control my IPaq from another room. This was actually a lot of fun, as I was able to activate the voice recorder remotely to record what was happening somewhere else! It was so Mission Impossible! My next step is to try this with a compact flash camera. Keep in mind that if you want to connect wirelessly, you will need to know the IP address of your Pocket PC, which must be entered into the desktop portion of the software. Finding this is not a problem, as the Pocket PC version of dotPocket will display your IP for you.


Figure 6: Desktop pc screen showing the window to my IPaq's soul

Gotchas
It must be mentioned that I reviewed this software using the demo product, and not the registered version. That being stated, I only had a few problems with the software:

Using the file manager component consistently crashed when trying to bring files from my IPaq to the desktop (tested on several operating systems and hardware configurations.)

The red dot control interface only gives access to the resolution manager when you zoom in - It would be nice to be able to change the resolutions without having to zoom in.

I was not able to use my screen capture software when dotPocket was running on my IPaq.

Hardware buttons are not accessible from the remote control.
Where to Buy
The software can be downloaded from Regsoft for $30.00

Conclusions

dotPocket 2.1 may have a few rough edges, and it certainly is not anything novel, but the power it provides gives welcome control over my Pocket PC. And the relatively low price certainly makes it attractive when compared to some of the bundled software on the market. You should definitely give this software a try
http://www.dotpocket.com/dotpocket.exe
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