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Plugged In

Take your social games with you with new iPad app

Plugged In

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Splashtop Remote

Apple's iOS devices -- like the iPhone and iPad -- have been
breakout hits in the games world, but without the Flash technology that
powers popular Facebook games like Mafia Wars and Frontierville, many
people can't play their favorite social titles on their portable
devices.

A handful of big-budget Facebook games (like Farmville, Bejeweled
Blitz, and EA's Scrabble) offer iPhone- or iPad-native apps that
connect to Facebook's servers to retrieve your game info, but the
overwhelming majority don't. If you want to play Flash-based games,
you've got to be sitting in front of your PC -- and in 2010, that just
won't do.

That's where new App Store release Splashtop Remote
comes in. After installing a small server app on your PC and tweaking
your firewall configuration in accordance with Splashtop's
instructions, you can connect your iPad to it from anywhere,
interacting with the machine as if you were sitting in front of it.
Other apps promise similar tasks, but they don't do it at Splashtop's
svelte price tag of $6.99 -- and they generally don't work anywhere
near as well with games as Splashtop does.

In theory, any game that runs on your desktop can run through
Splashtop. In practice, although we were able to fire up a few "real"
3D games, they weren't well suited to the iPad and proved pretty
unsatisfying. But Facebook games -- or, indeed, any browser-based game,
like Runescape or Club Penguin -- proved surprisingly playable.
Animated visuals streamed in smoothly, and the sound was impeccable.

Playing reactions-based, timed games like Bejeweled Blitz won't work
well with Splashtop, but slower games -- like the vast majority of
Facebook fare -- work perfectly well. In fact, we found playing
Farmville through Splashtop Remote was a much more pleasant experience
than we had using Zynga's iPhone app scaled-up on the same device.

Once you're done playing, Splashtop will even let you stream
full-screen video from sites like Hulu, although you'll do better with
dedicated video apps. And that's saying nothing of its duller, more
productive capabilities: if you need documents or access to
applications on a remote PC, it'll work for that, too. Mac users are
out of luck, and XP users won't get sound, but Facebook addicts with
newer PCs will be well served with Splashtop's new app. Who needs Flash?

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