Using Microsoft’s Remote Desktop App with a Tronsmart MK908 MiniPC

Contents

Introduction

Microsoft released Android, MacOS and iOS versions of its Remote Desktop Client app along with the downloadable Windows 8.1 bits on 10/17/2013. TheNextWeb blog reported on 10/18/2013 that Microsoft confirms it is working on a Remote Desktop app for Windows Phone. I’ll add another post with results for a Nokia Lumia 520 when that version becomes available.

I installed the Remote Desktop Client from the Google Play store on my quad-core Tronsmart MK908 :

Remote Desktop App - After Install

Note: My MK908 is the original release version with factory-standard ROM, so the maximum video resolution is 720p. (Click images for 1280×720-px versions.)

Features claimed for Microsoft Remote Desktop for Android are:

    • Access to remote resources through your Remote Desktop Gateway
    • Rich multi-touch experience with remote desktop protocol (RDP) and RemoteFX supporting Windows gestures
    • Secure connection to your data and applications with breakthrough Network Layer Authentication (NLA) technology
    • Simple management of all remote connections from the connection center
    • High quality video and sound streaming with improved compression and bandwidth usage

NOTE! We are aware of an issue impacting a small percentage of users. The App can terminate when you create a new Remote Desktop configuration. We’re working on a fix for this issue.

MK908 with RD Client - Home Screen

Launch the RD Client app to display the Connection Center screen (a tabula rasa) with which you add Gateways, Remote Desktops and, optionally, Remote Resources by clicking the + button (emphasized at the top right of the screen):

Remote Desktop Client - Connection Center

To learn more about the RD Client, click the menu button in the upper right corner (highlighted below) and choose Help to display the Getting Started with Remote Desktop Client on Android file:

Remote Desktop App - Getting Started Help

The Test Environment

Following is a diagram of OakLeaf Systems’ test configuration for the oakleaf.org domain from the A Diagram of the OakLeaf Systems HDMI Video Component Test System post, last updated 9/12/2013.OakLeaf Network DSL2

The preceding diagram is missing a D-Link DIR-826L Wireless N600 Dual Band Gigabit Router, which I added on the second floor to extend the range and increase the bandwidth of the WiFi network. The objective was to not require some MiniPCs with low antenna gain to connect to the NetGear WiFi Repeater in the living room for the Buffalo Air Station access point.

Enabling the Remote Desktop Feature on PCs Running Windows 7 and PCs or Tablets Running Windows 8

If you haven’t used My Computer or Control Panel’s feature to enable Remote Desktop on Windows Professional Editions, do the following with an account in the domain or local (for a workgroup) Administrators group:

For Windows 7 Professional Edition:

Launch Control Panel and choose System to open the System tool. Click Remote Settings in the Navigation Pane to open the System Properties dialog’s Remote and choose Allow Connections from Computers Running Any Version of Remote Desktop:

Enable Remote Desktop - Windows 7

Click OK to close the dialog and close the System tool.

For Windows 8 Professional Edition:

Search for and open Control Panel, Choose System to open the System tool and select Remote Settings to open the System Properties dialog’s Remote tab. Clear the Allow Remote Connections Only from Computers Running Remote Desktop with Network Level Authentication check box:

Enable Remote Desktop - Windows 8

Click OK to close the dialog and reboot your PC or tablet.

Note: After testing initial connections with Network Level Authentication (NLA), consider requiring NLA it it’s operable with your Android device.

Adding a Remote Desktop Gateway

A Remote Desktop Gateway (RD Gateway) enables authorized users to connect to a remote computer on a corporate network from anywhere on the Internet. You  create and manage your gateways using the Remote Desktop Client.

Note: You can add a Remote Desktop before adding an RD Gateway, but you must add its gateway during the process. Creating the RD Gateway first is a more logical sequence.

In the Connection Manager, select Gateways in the navigation pane to open the Edit Gateway screen and click the + button to create a new RD Gateway. Type a friendly name for the gateway in the Gateway Name text box, Win7 Dev Machine for this example, and the machine’s URL in https://MachineName.DomainName.tld format:

Edit Gateway - Add Gateway 
Leave the Credentials text boxes empty so multiple users connect to the machine with their own credentials and click Save to add the Gateway to the Gateways list.

Adding a Remote Desktop to an RD Gateway

In the Connection Manager, select Remote Desktops, click the + button to open the Edit Remote Desktop screen, type a friendly name for the RD in the Connection Name and the PC Name in MachineName.DomainName.tld format, OL-Win7Pro23.oakleaf.org for this example, select the RD Gateway you added in the preceding step, and type your user name and password in the Credentials text boxes:

Edit Remote Desktop - Add Remote PC

Click the Done button to save your changes and add the connection to the Remote Desktops list:

Remote Desktops with Win7 Pro Dev

Logging on to the Remote Desktop

Click the connection you added to open the Logon dialog, and type your user name and password:Log on to Remote Desktop

To open the Untrusted Certificate dialog:

Connect Remote Desktop - Untrusted Certificate

Click the Trust Always button to trust the PC or tablet’s certificate and add it to the Connection Manager’s Certificates list.

If you specified a trusted connection for the gateway, the NLA Logon dialog opens with the User Name text box prepoulated. Type the password:

Log on to Remote Desktop with NLA

Click the Logon button to open a Windows 7 desktop:

RD Client with Win7 Desktop

Or a Windows 8 start screen:

RD Client with Win8 Start Screen

Examining Certificates

Click the navigation pane’s Certificates button to display a list of stored certificate Common Names (CN=…) for remote PCs and tablets and click an item to display its public properties:

RD Certificates List

Obtaining Help

Opening the menu and selecting Help displays the Getting Started with Remote Desktop Client on Android document in your device’s default browser:

RD Client Help

Notice that this document didn’t receive a high helpfulness score.

Disconnecting the Remote Desktop

Double-click the back arrow twice or open Windows 8’s Power charm and choose Disconnect (the only option) to shut down the Remote Desktop connection.

Workstation Hardware Cost Estimate

IT departments can provide knowledge workers with a high-quality desktop or laptop PC replacement for (slightly) less than US$250:

Tronsmart MK908ii RK3188 Cortex-A9 Quad Core 1.6GHz Android 4.2 MiniPC

$ 69.99

Insignia™ – 22″ Class (21-1/2″ Diag.) – LED – 1080p – 60Hz – HDTV Model NS-22E400NA14

149.99

Logitech Wireless Touch Keyboard K400 with Built-In Multi-Touch Touchpad

29.99

Total

$ 249.97

Windows laptops with smaller 15.6-inch 1080p screens, such as the Acer N56VJ-DH71, are priced at about $1000.00 and upwards.

The MK908ii supports Bluetooth peripherals but wireless USB keyboard/trackpad devices are less costly and more reliable. The device also sports an external WiFi antenna for increased wireless networking range:

image

Additional on-board memory isn’t required because files are saved to the remote application. You can add 32 GB of local flash memory with a MicrosSD card for US$24.48.

Update 10/28/2013: Attesting to the computing power of the RK3188 quad-core processor, the CNX-Software blog reported Lenovo A10 Android Laptop is Powered by Rockchip RK3188 on 10/27/2013. Chris Welch of The Verge provided more details in his Lenovo announces A10 Android laptop amid slumping PC sales article of 10/18/2013 for the verge.

Note: The MK908ii that I just purchased from GeekBuying won’t sync at 1080p with my NS-24E340A13, which is no longer available from Best Buy. The Screen HDMI setting shows only 720p and 480p options, which might be caused by High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) issues. (My original Microsoft Surface tablet syncs at 1080i). The MK809ii syncs at 1080p with my Samsung 46D5060 Smart TV as expected. If you are interested in the combination shown in the table above, contact me and I will attempt to test the device with the newer Model NS-22E400NA14 at a Best Buy store.

A saving of this magnitude is one of the reason Dell/Wyse is promoting its Cloud Connect Pocket Cloud MiniPC for enterprise applications. See the Comparing Dell/Wyse’s “Project Ophelia” with Android MiniPCs article for more details.clip_image002

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