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« Guitar solo from Comfortably Numb recreated with GarageBand | Main | Friday Fun: Audience Surprise at iPad Guitar Amp »

Duet Display, the app that transforms your iPad into a second screen for your Mac

I'll keep this short, Duet Display is the first iPad app that provides proper Mac second screen capability for the iPad when connected via cable. The caveats are few, but certainly worth mentioning. It only works with the Mac, running 10.9 or greater, and the iPad that serves as the second display via the Duet Display client app has to be running iOS 6 or greater. The iOS app currently costs $14.99 and the display server software for the Mac is free.

What Duet Display does that the others don't

Duet Display, when set to its highest quality setting, turns your iPad into a Retina class display running at a tidy 60 frames per second. The host Mac has to give over some of its available resources to accomplish this, but on a modern Mac the overall impact in performance will be small. I did some tests using my 2012 i7 based MacBook Pro. While displaying a static image, only 5% of the Mac's overall processing power was given over to the Duet Display server app. With the entire screen in motion, playing a video or scrolling through a website, this figure jumped up to around 35%.

One small annoyance

The developer claims that on a modern Mac there is zero lag. This isn't exactly correct. It's certainly true that the app does achieve a consistent 60 frames per second with no tearing or distracting image artefacts, However there is a tiny lag between mouse movements and screen updates. It's so small that you may not even notice it, but it's worth mentioning, if for no other reason than to temper your expectations a little.

Concluding thoughts

Duet Display is an essential app for anyone who finds they are often switching between applications on their Mac. As an example, it allows me to have Adobe InDesign open on my Mac display whilst slinging Photoshop out to the Duet Display app. It means a whole lot less app switching, hence saving me time throughout the week. I'm sure that I'll find more uses for Duet Display over the coming months, it takes a while to get used to having a second display, but just $14.99 it's worth giving it a try.

DUET DISPLAY $14.99

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