Developer: Roccat
Price: Free ($0.99 for additional tab slots)
Version Reviewed: 0.459
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 5

iOS Integration Rating: ★★★★☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★★☆
Re-use Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Roccat Power-Grid is one of those apps that’s just an ingenious piece of technology because of how such a simple idea can be so powerful. Power-Grid turns the iPhone and iPod touch into a computer companion, offering additional controls on the screen that can sit alongside one’s keyboard while using a Windows computer.

RoccatPowerGrid1RoccatPowerGrid2Yes, this is unfortunately Windows-only, but the focus of Power-Grid is gaming so it makes sense. Users download the Windows server and configuration app from Roccat’s site, install the iOS app, and connect to the Power-Grid server on the same wi-fi network. Now, the iPhone will display a set of commands, with a tab bar at the bottom to switch between them. By default a display of the computer’s resource usage, free hard drive space, and network usage is shown, with tabs for volume control and Windows commands installed by default.

The customization is where things kick into high gear. Users can customize which tabs they want to use; like a notification center that can be connected to Skype, Email, and more. Twitter and Facebook are available but I couldn’t get tweet notifications to work and Facebook wouldn’t log in. It could be a Windows 8.1 issue.

But also available for customization? User-created control tabs, designed for specific purposes like controlling Spotify, and specific games. A Borderlands 2control panel adds in easy visual access to things like the inventory, map, and trading, without having to know which keyboard keys they are mapped to. Several dozen games are available from Roccat’s website to install, along with some general purpose virtual keyboards. I don’t recommend those virtual keyboards for twitch games due to the wi-fi latency between input and command. Still, the game-specific input ones, for using common and obscure commands? Perfect! Plus, there’s the ability to create custom grid sets for the intrepid.

RoccatPowerGrid5RoccatPowerGrid3This app works by simply sending a web view to the app, which means that it’s possible to add and switch between different tabs simply by configuring them in the desktop app and clicking “Apply” to change them in a snap. This is the joy of web-based technology: dynamic content delivered instantly. And really, only the Incoming Center poses any major problems. Some buttons like play/pause commands may get out of sync, but it’s a minor problem.

Power-Grid uses a unique monetization system too: the app is free to download, but that only gets 4 tabs: 2 built-in ones, and 2 custom ones. Additional tab slots can be purchased for $0.99 each. This ensures that power users are the ones who get the most benefit out of the app, without hurting casual users.

Minus a few issues, Roccat Power-Grid does what it sets out to do, and it can help make an iPhone into a convenient computer companion.

Posted in: iPhone Apps and Games, Productivity, Reviews

Tagged with: , , , , , ,