LogMeInLogMeIn is a web-based service that offers the same functionality, putting the power of remotely controlling computers in the hands of the average PC user. Remote access software isn’t new. Even in the pre-web bulletin board days support technicians used programs to remotely control your computer to solve problems.

LogMeIn has several service levels that offer different functions such as tech support options and accessing server data, but the product with the widest appeal is LogMeIn Pro, which simply puts your own computer in front of you from any other Internet-connected PC anywhere for a $12.95 per month or $69.95 per year, then $9.95 per PC thereafter.

It works through a utility installed on each device or computer you want to access. You begin by creating an account that becomes your master login access wherever you are. Once your account is active, you download and install the LogMeIn utility to each machine you want to access, giving each device a unique access code. You can do so on anything from PCs and PDAs to iPods.

Then, once you’re away from your office at a meeting or on holidays on the other side of the world, simply go to the LogMeIn website from any computer and log in to your account. Each device you’ve prepared for remote login will appear in a list, and you access one by clicking the link and typing in the identifying access code you set when you installed the utility on that device or computer.

The login process is pleasantly short – no more than waiting for an email to be sent off — and you’ll be met with some initial settings such as syncing the clipboards between computers that you can set for each time you log in to avoid being asked in future.

Your own desktop then appears in a new browser window and it’s just like sitting in front of your own system. You can maximise the image and remove all screen presence of the system you’re accessing from, a thin access bar across the top giving you access to control the scale of the view again.

There’s a slight lag between action and reaction, and you won’t be running to full operational capacity as a result. But the applications for LogMeIn are endless and they make it a welcome change to working on multiple devices and computers where you then have to sync all your data, emails, contacts and other information to make sure everything’s up to date. You’re very literally working on your own system and updating your own data, so if you have to send a quick email or update a document on the run, it’s done as if you were sitting in your office.

As it’s available for Mac and PC, LogMeIn has some inherent but unavoidable compatibility issues. We accessed a Mac system from a PC, so few of the usual keyboard shortcuts were available, and the reverse would be true accessing a PC from a Mac.

The electronic signal between systems seems to be near-instantaneous. During tests, action on the target computer happened as it was enacted on the controlling system. If anything, it was faster to react that the image on the computer we were logged in on.

Conducting an entire workday via LogMeIn would be slow going; you can probably count on getting around half to three quarters done in the same time due to lag and keyboard/shortcut issues, but if you’ve ever wished you were in front of your system and had all your data in front of you the way you want it, LogMeIn Pro is the answer.