For those of us behind strict corporate firewalls, it might be a good way to check email and other things on a remote computer.
This project adds support to VMware Workstation, etc, to do a similar thing, so that you don't need a custom VMware client app on your device.
My iTunes affiliate account lists it as $2.99 instead of the $4.99 in the app store, so I'll drop this here even though it probably won't make a difference due to price change lag:
Edit: sorry, meant to reply to ComputerGuru http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3701052 -- Splashtop does support sound/streaming video though.
If you stream a 720p YouTube video inside a VM and access it from Chrome or Firefox on a modern PC, you should see near-native quality and framerates. It’s not as fast streaming to an iPad just yet, but you’ll see some impressive changes there before long.
VNC isn't capable of providing a near-native experience for anything because it works from the top-down instead of from the bottom-up. Have you ever tried streaming 720p videos via VNC? The bandwidth it takes is ridiculous, and even on a gigabit LAN it doesn't provide the desired experience, let alone over the internet.
Also, I don't think there's a browser-based VNC implementation that will work on iOS or even Android (I don't mean Java plugins!) so there's that, too.
There's no reason you couldn't use a proper video compression algorithm in a VNC application where applicable, or just send the whole image as compressed video.
For a hackathon this weekend we wrote a simple terminal and Ruby IDE using WebSockets. It's good stuff.
I'm pretty sure the sockets + thin-client with JS GUI will win the day.