Working with a second screen provides a number of obvious benefits from increased screen real estate to providing different spaces for working and reference materials. A second screen can dramatically improve productivity, especially for laptop users with compact models. Thankfully for iPad owners, Duet Display is the easiest way yet to set up a second monitor, and at US$14.99 it's an affordable solution.
Since the advent of the iPad, apps have been around to turn the device into a second screen, but these apps have been plagued with lag and connection issues. For many of these apps the problem was trying to keep a connection going over Wi-Fi networks. Duet Display bypasses this problem by connecting your computer via the iPad -- or iPhone -- charging cable, creating a direct connection.
We tested Duet Display with a late 2013 iPad Air and an early 2011 13" Macbook Pro with 8GB of RAM. Setting up the app is quick and easy. Simply download the iOS and Mac apps to your devices and connect your iPad to your computer. To start Duet, run the app on your computer and restart. Once the restart is done, fire up the app on your Mac first, and then open it on your iPad. Within seconds, your second display will be live on your iPad or iPhone. We found that using the app with an iPhone is largely a novelty, but for users with the larger iPhone 6 Plus the experience might be different.
However, using Duet Display on an iPad is a dream. Users retain touch screen functionality, and your Mac mouse or trackpad works exactly as it would with a normal secondary display. The only downside we found with the app was the inability to scroll up and down pages with your fingers as you normally would on the iPad, but mouse support renders this issue more a nitpick than anything else.
We were able to play the game Limbo in one window while keeping chat and internet logs running on the iPad without any hiccups in speed or performance on either front. Obviously that's a terrible use of productivity solutions, but it's nice to see the app work even when multiple programs are running without experiencing lag.
Duet offers a number of options for refresh rates and resolutions, allowing you to take full advantage of Retina displays or focus on "Energy Efficient" modes if you're trying to conserve power. This customization is a wonderful added bonus to an already incredibly useful app.
Whether you're a traveler who normally works with a second screen at home or simply a iPad owner who's looking to expand a Mac desktop without having to buy a second monitor, Duet Display is a easy choice to make. $14.99 is a small price to pay for such an easy and efficient way of expanding your screen space.
You can find Duet Display in the iOS store here, and download the Mac app here. Continue reading to watch a launch video.