Review of CloseUp / LAN Pro 6.1

review-of-closeup-lan--pro-photoThis was originally published on September 26, 1995. It’s funny to think that remote access to a network was through remote control of a machine. This concept has morphed into VNC.

Remote control communications is still the quickest method of accessing Windows over the phone lines or by LAN. Knowing this, many companies have come out with various methods of controlling the PCs. Some us add-on programs, some use new device drivers and even some change your environment.

CloseUp is one of the few programs that doesn’t modify any of your system files — almost. Unlike PCAnywhere for Windows that makes a mess of your system by adding VDXs and other junk, CloseUp simply changes your video driver. All the communication issues are handled via a DOS stub loaded when you boot your PC.

CloseUp uses a host/remote strategy to allow you to control PCs over the phone line or LAN. The host PC is the PC setup to allow folks to control it. A remote PC is one that dials into the host PC and takes control. Hence, your PC at home would be a remote and the PC at work would be host. You could then call into the work PC and take control of the screen, transfer files and more.

As stated earlier, CloseUp uses a DOS stub for host and remote communications. What this leaves you with is a remarkably clean Windows installation. The only change made to your Windows environment is a program that checks to see if you are running CloseUp or not. If you are running CloseUp, your current video driver is replaced with one for remote communications. If you aren’t running CloseUp your current video driver is loaded. This method of configuration works well from a compatibility stand point, the display driver isn’t the best. On three different machines we were able to get “dots” to appear in our display by loading the CloseUp drivers. These “dots” were irritating. Other than that there were no issues.

Making a connection with CloseUp using a modem is pretty easy. Again, it is DOS based, but there is a address book that lets you keep multiple numbers on hand. As well, you can control several items about your environment before dialing out. Actually calling out is a painless process. If you are in Windows when you make a connect, the Windows drivers take over and you are presented with the host’s Windows screen. From here you have total control of the Windows environment. If you pull up your remote side menu to change configuration, your screen is cleared and you are in a DOS like environment. After your changes are made the screen repaints in the Windows environment. This can lead to slowdowns if you make many changes.

For Windows the speed at 28.8 is really nice. 14.4 is barely acceptable. At 28.8 your screens almost snap while at 14.4 they paint. In a DOS environment either speed is blazing. I was very impressed!

Usually this would be the end of the review, but CloseUp 6.1 does something many of the remote control program won’t do — LANs. Sure, some programs allow you to control a node on a LAN. CloseUp 6.1 will as well. What they don’t let you do is allow multiple remote nodes control one host. Imagine that! In a school environment the teacher could be teaching one one PC while the students follow along on their machines. Think of the uses in a corporation. Joe in Texas could be demonstrating the latest program to salespeople in California and New York while they watch on their machines.

This many to one approach is innovative and affordable. Until now this ability was only available in DOS, but now Windows comes to the forefront. Amazing. Of course, this ability allows you to go across WANs through routers and over 56k lines, etc.

CloseUp 6.1 isn’t sexy. It isn’t marketed spicily. It performs. If you are looking for a feature packed remote control program look no further than Close Up!

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