I finally got around to installing the OnLive desktop client for my iPad 2 this week, and I couldn’t be more impressed with the technology involved here. If you’re unfamiliar with OnLive as a company they first entered the foray with a product that allowed gamers to stream next-gen games to their TV’s, Laptops, and other Internet ready devices without the need of an expensive console to do so. That technology is amazing in and of itself, but their desktop client for iPad is a whole different monster. This tiny app allows anyone with an iPad and an Internet connection to link up with a streaming virtual Windows 7 desktop. Essentially, with this app, iPad users can have a stripped down Windows 7 desktop complete with MS Office 2010 (minus Access) literally in the palm of their hands!
OnLive Desktop App for iPad
EB 10 out of 10 Buddhas
The Awesome: Performance, Cloud storage, MS Office on an Apple Device for free
The Not so Awesome: Virtual Keyboards
The most impressive feature of the OnLive desktop app is the fact that it performs so well in almost all aspects of a streaming application. The speeds at which you can interact with this virtual desktop are to the point where it feels as if you have a second partition on your iPad with Windows 7 installed. If you have a strong WiFi connection you will notice almost zero lag from the time you touch an application to launch it, to when it actually opens. It’s nearly simultaneous, and not for from a traditional PC running the Office 2010 software. I find it inspiring that companies like OnLive are able to create free apps such as this one, that also have a high pedigree where no compromises were made to port a Windows 7 desktop to a streaming one running on an Apple iPad of all things. Simply amazing!
On top of the amazing overall performance of the OnLive desktop client it also offers users 2GB of free cloud storage that can be accessed via the app itself, or through a link on OnLive’s website. This allows Mac users to create MS Office 2010 projects on their iPad, which can then be downloaded to their Mac for sharing purposes without the need to have the software installed on said Mac. That ability alone saves Mac users a few hundred dollars on buying the Office Suite for their Macs, so the inclusion of Cloud storage is key to making this app such a success.
Cloud storage, schwing!
MS Office on an Apple Device for free
Again, the ability to create Excel, Word, and Powerpoint documents on the go, on an iPad, using touch controls, is a feat in technical excellence. If you were to hook up a bluetooth keyboard to your iPad and use this app, you’d basically have a Windows 7 netbook for free. Using OpenOffice on a Mac is sufficient to view MS Office documents, but many times when you use it to create documents the formatting gets a little wonky once the document is viewed in Office again, so the ability to create MS Office documents in their native program is definitely a bonus for Mac users. All three of the included apps work just like you would expect them to, so it’s not like OnLive had to rig them to work on the iPad.
MS Office apps appear the same way they would on a Windows PC
The Not so Awesome
Trust me this is a stretch, but I had to find a fault in this app to show that I’m not completely blinded by its awesomeness. Virtual keyboards will always be the bane of the user’s experience while doing their daily computing from a touch enabled device. I don’t know if virtual keyboards can ever replace a traditional one altogether, but if you’re planning on typing the next LOTR-esque epic on your iPad using the OnLive desktop client, you may want to invest in a Bluetooth keyboard first. For me it’s impossible to replicate my words per minute abilities when using a virtual keyboard, and the ones included with the OnLive app aren’t going to fix that issue.
Virtual keyboards aren’t made for people with sausage fingers
Using the keyboard still feels clunky, and the peck method of typing is forced upon you due to the size of the virtual keyboard. There’s also a sketch pad version of the keyboard that allows you to draw words, which are then rendered into text in your Office document, but without a stylus it’s a little touch and go if you know what I mean. The included keyboards will work for smaller operations, but if you truly want to use this app as a full on Mac Office replacement, then you will have to buy a physical keyboard to make the experience as efficient as possible.
The Final Verdict
OnLive is slowly becoming one of my favorite innovators of cloud based technologies. There amazing stream based gaming technology first made me aware of them, and now their desktop app for iPad has made me fall in love with them. It’s performance quality is top notch, and the inclusion of cloud storage is a bonus for users that are always on the go. The fact that you can essentially have a fully functioning Windows 7 desktop running on your iPad for free, is something that should earn the geeks at OnLive a Nobel Prize. Outside of the virtual keyboards there is absolutely no downside to installing this app. For this I have to give the OnLive desktop app for iPad a whopping 10 out of 10 Buddhas. If you don’t believe me then head on down below to watch a demo of this little gem in action. You’ve been needing to get on the OnLive bandwagon boys and girls…
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