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Reviews

Pocket Controller Pro v6.01

By Legacy February 28, 2008, 12:00 am

INTRODUCTION

I'm a long-time user of desktop software, such as VNC or Remote Desktop, for remotely controlling another PC. When I first learned of SOTI's Pocket Controller Pro software, I wondered why I might want to control my Windows Mobile phone from my desktop computer. It's either connected by a USB cable or a Bluetooth connection, so the phone isn't exactly "remote". As it turns out, the ability to remotely view and control your Windows Mobile device can be very useful, but there's also more to Pocket Controller Pro than its name may imply. Read on to see what I mean!

WHAT'S HOT

Pocket Controller Pro V6 key features include:- Works with touchscreen and non-touchscreen Windows Mobile devices

POCKETNOW VIDEO OF THE DAY
  • Connect via USB, Bluetooth, or WiFi

  • Real-time remote control

  • Presentation tools

  • File synchronization

  • File explorer

  • Registry editor

  • Task manager and system information

  • Screen/video capture and printing

SETUP

Setup is a straight-forward process. Download the software and launch the installer. Pocket Controller Pro will install the desktop components and once you connect your mobile device, ActiveSync (AS) or Windows Mobile Device Center (WMDC) installs the mobile components on your device.

PRODUCT FEATURES

Microsoft already provides a solution for controlling other computers remotely, but there is no provision for controlling a Windows Mobile device. This is where SOTI, Inc. saw an opportunity and grabbed it.

Using Pocket Controller Pro V6, you can connect to any Windows Mobile device and control it from your desktop computer. The ability to control your mobile device from your desktop is invaluable to anyone attempting to provide mobile device training or marketing demonstrations. Once you're controlling your mobile device from your desktop or laptop, projection equipment can be used to present your mobile device to a large group of people. Pocket Controller even includes presentation tools to assist you.

Once you're connected you can monitor and control your device remotely. You click on an item on the screen, and it will respond as if you tapped it with your stylus.

Selecting the background option hides your desktop so only the device is presented on screen.

Pocket Controller Pro allows you to use any background color in presentation mode, or you can customize the background using any HTML file. If you choose one of the many available skins for your device, you can also hide the Pocket Controller window so only the device and presentation controls are visible during your presentation.

Presentation mode with a skinned device.

Here is the extensive skin catalog.

During a presentation, Pocket Controller Pro allows you to mark up the mobile device display using a simple drawing tool. You can change the markup color, but the size is fixed and the drawing is restricted to simple lines. The tool is limited, but useful.

A sample of the drawing capabilities.

For training purposes or marketing demonstrations, Pocket Controller will allow you to capture still images or video recordings of your mobile device activity. Still images can be stored in PNG, JPG, GIF, TIFF, or BMP formats. Image snapshots can also be copied to the clipboard for insertion into other applications or they can be sent directly to a printer. Video recordings can be stored using compressed or uncompressed AVI format or Microsoft's WMV format. If you are controlling the device from the desktop, the video recording will also include the mouse pointer so it is easy for an audience to follow the action.

Pocket Controller Pro's image capture options.

Pocket Controller Pro's video capture options.

A sample video recording while controlling the device from the desktop.

It's also possible to record macros with Pocket Controller, so if there are actions you commonly perform during a presentation, you can reproduce those actions quickly and easily. For example, if you need to start a particular application, you can create a macro to open the Start menu, select "Programs", navigate to the application and click its icon to start it. When you playback the macro, Pocket Controller will repeat the steps for you, allowing you to focus on other aspects of your presentation.

In addition to its presentation and capture features, Pocket Controller also provides access to the registry and file system on the mobile device. You can browse the file system and transfer files between your desktop and mobile device. ActiveSync and Windows Mobile Device Center also allow you to do this, but not over a WiFi connection . The remote registry can also be opened and information can be imported, exported, and edited.

This is what it looks like while browsing the remote file system using Pocket Controller Pro.

And here is browsing the remote registry using Pocket Controller Pro.

Pocket Controller also provides a file synchronization feature that goes beyond what's offered by AS or WMDC. You can setup synchronization rules that allow for one-way sync from desktop to device, one-way sync from device to desktop, or two-way sync between desktop and device. One-way syncs can be configured to delete the source files after the synchronization completes. I found this to be a useful feature for moving photos and video off my phone for archiving on the desktop.

Additional management features allow you to check system status and running tasks on the mobile device. Using the Task Manager you close tasks that may be causing problems or get detailed information about each task.

This is remote system status information.

And this is remote task information.

HELP SUPPORT

Pocket Controller installs a help file on the desktop to assist you with any questions you may have. The help file follows the organization of the user interface making it very easy to locate help for any given feature. The "Common Error Messages Explained" section should prove helpful with connection problems. Finally, there is a "Contacting Us" section containing e-mail addresses and phone numbers for further support.

OPTIONS

When connecting to your mobile device, one option given by Pocket Controller Pro that you won't find in ActiveSync or Windows Mobile Device Center is the ability to connect over WiFi. You'll need to know your device's IP address, but if you find yourself without a USB cable and don't have a Bluetooth adapter on your desktop, WiFi might be another option worth considering. It will provide you with a means to access the file system and registry on your mobile device.

Additionally, for those who still like to work from the Windows command-line, there's a command-line DOS shell that connects to your mobile device. From the command-line prompt you can browse directories or copy and move files.

You can also restart or wipe your device from within Pocket Controller Pro.

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

Desktop requirements:- Windows Vista

  • Windows XP/2000 with ActiveSync 4.1 or later

Mobile device requirements:

  • Any Windows Mobile, Windows CE, Pocket PC or Smartphone device

  • Program Memory: 2MB, Storage Memory: 500KB

BUGS AND WISHES

Though Pocket Controller performed flawlessly once connected, I did have a few problems securing a connection to my phone. While securing a USB connection, Pocket Controller would report that the connection was complete and it was "Waiting for data..." but the remote display never appeared on screen. I could only resolve the problem by reinstalling both the desktop and mobile software.

Pocket Controller's performance with my T-Mobile Wing was very good. I had some concerns regarding the quality of video capture before testing. Particularly I wondered how well the video recording feature would capture everything seen on the device. Using the default capture rate of 10 frames per second, you can see in the sample capture that the key flashes on the software input panel are not always reproduced in the video. Increasing to 15 frames per second didn't seem to make any difference. If you are familiar with using Google Maps on your mobile phone, you will also notice some of the transitions and movements are a bit choppy in the recording. I suspect this is related more to the processing power of the device than the Pocket Controller software and my phone just can't keep up with sending 15 frames per second back to the desktop recorder.

Here is video capture at 10 fps and 15 fps.

For any application where higher frame rates aren't needed (and they probably aren't really needed in most applications) the video capture is great.

More than having increased frame rates, I would like to be able to send device audio to the desktop viewer and record it along with the video capture while optionally playing or muting the device speaker. If capturing the audio from the device is not feasible, it would at least be convenient to capture audio from the desktop microphone so you can narrate the video capture as it is performed.

When capturing a screen image, I'd like to be able to have Pocket Controller give the option of adding a thin black border around the image. When the mobile screen image is mostly white, a border would make it easier to incorporate the images into documentation (or reviews).

I would also like to see more registry features. I would like some means by which you could take a snapshot of the registry and later export only the set of registry keys that changed since the snapshot. I would also like the ability to "lock-down" certain registry keys so I could be notified if they changed and automatically have them restored to their previous settings. These features would help users keep track of registry changes made after installing a new application and clean up after those applications when they are removed.

The only other addition I would recommend is that SOTI include more HTML backgrounds. There is one sample HTML background that contains a solid black background with a SOTI.net logo.

PURCHASING

Pocket Controller Pro V6 is available in the pocketnow.com store for $35.95 using a major credit card or PayPal. The Pocket Controller Pro product page on SOTI's website provides an FAQ and product brochure. Information on SOTI's Enterprise Products, MobiControl and Pocket Controller Enterprise, can also be found on the SOTI website.

Pros

  • Control your device with a desktop computer
  • Remote registry editor
  • WiFi connections (in addition to USB and Bluetooth)
  • Remote file explorer
  • Screen capture and video recording

Cons

  • Video recording doesn't capture device audio

Lacks ability to compare registry keys to an earlier export

Drawing tool is limited

Needs more sample HTML backgrounds

OVERALL IMPRESSION

I wasn't initially sure why I might want to use Pocket Controller Pro, but anyone developing Windows Mobile applications would certainly benefit from using Pocket Controller for demonstrations, training or capturing screen video for online marketing materials. Pocket Controller Pro is also useful in reviewing mobile applications because of its screen capture and recording features. Even for those who won't use these features very heavily, they may find the synchronization features to be worthy of investing in Pocket Controller Pro.

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