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Use Your iPad as an External Monitor for Mac (and now Windows) with Duet

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There’s no question that having a second monitor helps boost productivity, especially if you’re otherwise stuck on a long trip with a tiny laptop display. The good news is that you may already own an external monitor without even knowing it. iPad apps let you turn your tablet into a second display, but few function as well as a dedicated external monitor, with the exception of Duet Display.

Duet was designed by former Apple engineers, and it definitely shows. Many other apps connect to your laptop over WiFi, but Duet draws power and the video signal over USB. The result is a sharp picture with very little lag, though you might notice a slowdown with older computers. Your laptop battery will also take a big hit (it’s powering the iPad), so you’ll want to be plugged in whenever possible. You can save some juice by using your iPhone instead, though you’ll obviously have less screen real estate in that case.

Duet's external-display app for iPad and iPhone now supports Windows 7 and Windows 8.
Duet’s external-display app for iPad and iPhone now supports Windows 7 and Windows 8.

All that aside, whether you’re working from a cubicle or under an umbrella on your overwater villa, Duet can’t be beat. You could even use your iPad as an external monitor on a long-haul flight, though your neighbor might not be thrilled about your mobile workstation if you’re stuck back in coach (we’d recommend booking something like this instead). Another handy feature: You can use your iPad’s touchscreen like a mouse, though I’ve found that to be a bit of a struggle, especially in high-resolution mode (on Retina iPads), where anything I want to tap appears quite small.

As of today, Duet now supports Windows 7 and Windows 8, so you can use your iPad as an external monitor with any recent Windows computer. The Duet folks say that covers about 80% of Windows machines, and they expect to support Windows 10 on launch day. The other good news is that Duet is only $10 in the App Store if you buy today (I paid $15.99, which is still a steal).

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