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BLOG: Unlock your Surface RT tablet's hidden superpowers

Marco Chiappetta | Sept. 11, 2013
The Surface RT might seem limited, but smart use of its connectivity and apps can make it an able sidekick for your computing needs.

Tap into the power of your full-fledged PC
Using external peripherals to enhance the Surface RT's capabilities can be a godsend, but if you really want to step up your productivity, consider using your tablet as a front-end to remotely control a more powerful, full-featured PC.

There are a couple of apps in the Windows Store that make remoting into a PC quick and easy. The best one is Microsoft's own Remote Desktop app. Remote Desktop for Surface RT works just like it does on a standard PC; enter the remote PC's local IP address or network name into the app, and as long as the PC's got remote connections enabled, its desktop will appear on the Surface RT's screen.

To install Remote Desktop on the Surface RT, search for it in the Windows Store, select it, and tap Install. On the PC you'd like to connect to, navigate to the System menu—on Windows 8 you right-click the lower-left corner and select System—open the Remote Settings menu (found in the upper-left corner of the Windows 8 System menu) and make sure the option to "Allow remote connections to this computer" is checked.  Provided you've got those two things taken care of and the Surface RT and PC are on the same network, remoting in as easy as launching the Remote Desktop app and typing in the PC's name or IP address.

Technically, you can also use Remote Desktop to access a PC over the Internet, but that requires opening ports in a router or firewall, forwarding packets to a particular PC, and finding your external IP address (the IP address provided by your ISP). But instead of going through all that hassle, you can just install the Team Viewer app on the Surface RT and PC—it's much easier to manage.

The Team Viewer PC app acts as a tunnel to the Internet. If you go to the Team Viewer website and install the PC app, it will assign your PC a unique user ID and password. Search the Windows Store on the Surface RT, install the Team View Touch app on the tablet, and you'll then be able to remote into the PC from anywhere, as long as you've got an active connection to the Web. Controlling your PC remotely takes a little practice, but once you're comfortable doing so, your RT tablet becomes an extension of your PC that you can carry anywhere.

Hidden gems in the Windows Store
In addition to the handy remote desktop apps, the Windows Store is rife with other hidden gems that can make your RT more powerful, more productive, and more fun to use.

 

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