Air Display for iPad and Android: Great cheap 2nd monitor (review)

Summary:Turn your iPad or Android tablet into a wireless second monitor for any laptop for just ten bucks.

Air Display Android setup

Having enough screen real estate while working on laptops can be challenging, especially for those used to multiple monitor setups back in the office. Having a second monitor can be especially beneficial when working on laptops on the go. Owners of iPads and Android tablets have a cheap method at hand to turn those slates into wireless monitors for both Mac and Windows laptops.

The Air Display app is available for the iPad for $9.99, and the Android version costs the same. Both apps turn the appropriate tablet into a second monitor for Mac and Windows that connects to the laptop via Wi-Fi. Once the app is installed on the tablet, it directs you to the appropriate web site to download either the Mac or Windows app for the laptop.

After only a couple of minutes, the Air Display local service can be toggled on which initiates a search on the local Wi-Fi network for tablets running Air Display. The tablet running Air Display is selected from the search window and Air Display connects the laptop to the tablet.

The iPad or Android tablet is treated by either OS X or Windows 7 as an external monitor, with full OS control over the display. This allows user control over the location of the tablet in relation to the laptop. The tablet display can either mirror the laptop screen, or extend it to provide additional display space.

There is a slight lag due to the Wi-Fi connection, but it is so small to not be a factor. You probably won't be streaming video to the tablet due to this latency, but everything else works very well.

Displaying Sparrow (Mac) on the iPad

Air Display turns the tablet and laptop into a two monitor setup without compromise. It provides a second monitor for ten bucks, and that is an outstanding value. The benefits are fully realized when working in a hotel room at night as productively as back at the office with the two monitor configuration.

I use both the iPad and the Android versions of Air Display regularly, and have experienced no problems with either. The iPad with the Retina Display is especially impressive used as a second monitor with Air Display. Using this next to the MacBook or Windows PC shows without a doubt how superior the new iPad display is compared to that of the laptop.

Air Display permits rotating the iPad or Android tablet at will, and reconfigures the display on the fly. I find it particularly useful to put a document on the tablet in portrait for easy reference while working on the laptop.

TweetDeck Mac (Transformer Prime) and MacBook

I have tested Air Display for Android on both the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the Transformer Prime without problems. Other Android tablets may not work as well according to the people behind Air Display.

Related: Top productivity apps for the iPad 3 (gallery) | Apple’s next-gen iPad: New battlefields emerge |Microsoft’s business pitch for Windows 8 depends on tablets | Apple’s New iPad In The Enterprise: Laptop Replacement Gets Closer | The new iPad’s great but what’s wrong with a good, inexpensive Android tablet? | CNET: New iPad hands on | CNET: All CNET iPad coverage (roundup) | iPad HD will surpass laptops on key features

Topics: iPad, Android, Enterprise Software, Google, Hardware, Mobility

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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