When it comes to one of my favorite PC tricks, Apple's Macs have been left behind: free, simple access to a computer from afar. So I was delighted the other day to stumble across a new version of LogMeIn for the Macintosh.
LogMeIn makes it easy to use, say, a desktop computer that's at home when you, the user, are far away. Think of it as place-shifting, of teleporting yourself across the Internet back to the home PC. As long as you have access to a PC with broadband Internet, you can operate the home computer as if you're sitting in front of it.
Remarkably, LogMeIn provides basic service free of charge. I use it routinely to access my own computer from the road, saving me from having to drag along a laptop. LogMeIn also sells a version with added features, including, now, the ability to stream audio, for prices starting at about $5 a month. GoToMyPC is a well-known competitor that sells a similar service but doesn't offer a free edition.
Until now, I couldn't find something similar for the Macintosh, for pay or free. That was disappointing because my in-laws use a Mac, and we love to give them quick tech support when they get stuck. The only options have been programs that start at about $100 (which also don't appear to be as easy to use) or free software that looks byzantine to set up.
LogMeIn's new version is still in test mode. But it appears to work well and may come out of testing as soon as October. It will carry no charge, though a paid edition is planned for next year. And in my experience, LogMeIn is a rare product in which you get more than you pay for—especially when you pay nothing.