Air Display for iPad- app review

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This week I am taking a look at Air Display by Avatron Software. You may have heard of Avatron as they make the great Air Sharing apps for iPhone and iPad. This app works like an external display for your Mac desktop or laptop (good news PC owners, it will work on a PC soon!).

To get started, you need to download the desktop app from Avatron's website. The desktop app works like a display driver for an external monitor. Once installed, you will need to pair your iPad and Mac together. You can set the Air Display app to appear in the Apple menu bar across the top of the screen for easy access.

Once activated, open the app on the iPad. You get the typical background wallpaper that you have set for your external monitors. If you choose, you can even change the wallpaper for the iPad when displaying as a monitor. One of the first things I recommend doing is going into your Apple System Preferences and arranging the iPad monitor the way you want. Right side, left side, etc. I also took the extra effort to have the iPad's placement reflect proper placement on the Monitor Arrangement screen too. This way when you drag your cursor to the iPad, it represents its real-time location. One more thing when it comes to monitor setup on the Mac, if you use Spaces, the iPad shows up as an individual display on each separate space- nice.

Once configured, using Air Display is a breeze; drag content to the iPad and release, it's that simple. Due to the iPad's size, apps that are best used on the display are things like iChat, Skype, etc. Also, since the monitor is projected via Wi-Fi, the monitor refresh is poor. So, as you move windows or objects around, they tend to be a little jerky. I would not use this monitor for anything that involves animation for this reason.

If you find your desktop just isn't big enough and using Spaces on your Mac can't get the job done, Air Display is an excellent way to use your iPad when it is just chillin' next to your Mac.

[$9.99- iTunes Link]

Pros

  • Excellent external mini-monitor
  • Great for Chats or Skype
  • Shows as an additional monitor in Spaces on the Mac
  • Works as advertised

Cons

  • Movement is slow and jerky
  • Can't use effectively for anything that requires animation

TiPb iPad 4-star rated

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Chad Garrett

Software trainer, blogger and mobile technology enthusiast living in the suburban Midwest.

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There are 17 comments. Add yours.

Jayhawk says:

Is there a way to use the iPad as the ONLY monitor for your desktop, not just a second monitor. The reason I ask is this -- I currently own one of the first MacBooks and I'm thinking of upgrading this year. Since I already paid for an iPad this year as well, I'm thinking about getting a Mac Mini to save on money vs getting another MacBook. When I'm at home, I can use the Mini hooked up to my regular monitor, when I'm traveling I can use my iPad ... But if I needed a little extra power traveling, I could bring along the Mini and (hopefully) use the iPad as the monitor. I understand that I would have to plug the Mini in somewhere. Any ideas? Can this work without a wireless connection around?

Trevor says:

Are you able to use the touchscreen when stuff is on your moniter? I know Macs support touchscreens in general & it would be cool if you could do stuff with your finger.

berry15 says:

would this work as a third monitor? i have a mbp and an external monitor, so could it theoreticaly be a third monitor?

Toby says:

I totally want this for my iPhone. Would be great to display twitter feed and email status off main screen.

Yacko says:

"would this work as a third monitor? i have a mbp and an external monitor, so could it theoreticaly be a third monitor?"
I can't state categorically it would, however since it integrates with the Displays control panel and is not just a rogue stand-alone app, I would say it is likely it will work. Email the developer.

Yacko says:

"Are you able to use the touchscreen when stuff is on your moniter?"
The touch screen of the linked iPad is always active and you can move the cursor and press buttons on the iPad screen. If you mean will the other screen, let's say you link it with an iMac or laptop, will the iMac or laptop screen get touch ability, the answer is no.

Yacko says:

"could bring along the Mini and (hopefully) use the iPad as the monitor."
This is an intriguing idea. Again I cannot state success categorically. You would need to have set up the mini with a regular monitor. Probably need to set it to mirror display and choose 1024x768 for both the monitor and the pad. I'd say it is likely you pull the monitor and the pad would work alone. Next problem is a cold boot with no monitor. The mini would have to be able to boot headless, which I think it can, wi-fi would come on late in the boot process and then the iPad would show. For most of the boot process you would be without visual sign of progress, which shouldn't be a problem unless you have a bad crash and a subsequent bad boot.
"Can this work without a wireless connection around?"
You are going to have a wireless connection whether there is an access point in the room or not. The computer will be talking to the iPad through wifi direct between the two. Your biggest problem will be online connectivity. If you are using wireless via Air Pad you will then need to make your Internet connect via wired ethernet so a Cat 5 cable and an ethernet port in the room will be necessary.

lkernq says:

I see absolutely no value in this app. Why not just run chat on the iPad itself? Should be free.
Why does a dog lick itself? Because it can, not that it should.

Trevor says:

@ Yacko- thank you for answering my question about the touchscreen, much appreciated. I might just go get this for my iPhone now.

John F. says:

Thanks for doing this review. I do a lot of writing that involves moving some info out of one document window and into another just so I can keep track of ideas and I'm used to touch-typing while reading from sources like books or papers clipped to a stand next to the screen, so this might work nicely.
Question, though: I see that you mention the Skype, etc. will work with iPad's touch screen features once moved over... can I safely assume though that the actual audio of a Skype conversation will still be happening on the main Mac from which the application is running? Not that this matters much, but I'm just curious.

JSimon says:

i´m working with airdisplay a few days and love it. i use it for my photoshop palletes, live-monitoring of websites ans so on. for me it´s worth every cent.

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