The Best App for Using an iPad as a Second Display

When you’re thinking of extending your Mac (or PC) display to an iPad, you have a few choices in products. Let’s review Air Display and Duet Display and pick a winner.

Extra monitors take up valuable desk space but can be extremely useful in getting more work done. With this in mind, I’ve got some good news. That spare iPad sitting next to your computer can be leveraged for just this purpose!

Extending your Mac’s (or PC’s) display to an iPad isn’t new. Programs like Air Display used to do it via Wi-Fi however I’ve found it drains the battery quickly and the performance is slow. Today however,  Air Display version 3 and a newcomer, Duet Display, let you use your iPad as a second monitor through your 30-pin or Lightning cable.

Air Display

Image courtesy Apple

Let’s take a closer look at the details and compare the two products — “Air Display Vs. Duet Display“.

Why Extend Your Display to Your iPad Anyway?

Who doesn’t like multiple monitors? Multiple screens allow you to segment your work and see more at a time. For a desktop iMac with a 27” screen, it’s probably not too important. However, if you’re on a smaller Macbook or Air, that extra real estate will make a huge difference in productivity as you don’t need to flip between open windows constantly.

Extend your Display to your iPad Showdown – Air Display Vs. Duet Display

Speed Comparisons: A tie

Both programs presented the graphics with almost no lag time when connected directly to my Mac with a charging cable. I didn’t test these programs on a Retina-based Mac however, given the performance I experienced, I would expect both to perform well.

Features: Air Display


Duet supports only one iOS device. Air Display supports up to four. I tried two iPads, and while it was slower, it worked fine. Air Display 3 also works over Wi-Fi. Although Wi-Fi is slower than cable, the flexibility is nice for those times when you don’t have a cable or connecting one would be impractical. One item to note, the Windows version of Duet display currently only supports 1024 x 768 displays regardless of your iPad capabilities (sorry, Retina display iPads…).

Compatibility: Air Display

Both Air Display and Duet Display require iOS 7 or later however, Duet requires Mac OS X 10.9, whereas Air Display can run on 10.9 or later. So if you’re stuck on 10.8 for compatibility reasons, Air Display will be the only choice at this time.

On the Windows side, Duet Display supply supports OS X and Windows 7 and 8 using a charging cable. Air Display (as of today) only supports OS X with its latest version, 3. Windows users can still use Air Display 2, which allows you to extend the screen to your Mac (the host) or Windows through Wi-Fi on iOS 6 and Android devices. That means if you install Air Display’s software on your Mac, you can use an old iPad through Wi-Fi and still use Air Display 3 on a newer iPad.

So although Air Display is a bit behind on the Windows side, I still give it a leg up over Duet Display from a compatibility and flexibility standpoint. This will especially be true once Windows gets a little love with Air Display V3.

Cost: Air Display

Apps go on sale all the time, but the regular price of Duet Display is $15.99, and Air Display is $14.99. It’s a buck difference, Air Display is still the less expensive choice.


While I like Duet and admire its engineering, between the two products, my recommendation for extending your Windows / Mac displays to your iPad is Air Display. I loved the simplicity, feature set, and price.



  1. Nathan

    Considering AirDisplay will not work with windows 10 and the fact that it is causing everyone with the program to not be able to update to windows 10…….i would say they program isnt that great.

  2. Jay

    Air Display 2 won’t work with iOS 9 and Avatron asks you to buy Air Display 3. Contacting Avatron support is nightmare. If you here hear from them, you only hear they know and they are working on fix but dont say when it will be fixed.

    • rezwits

      I got air display 2 working on my iPad Pro (with iOS 9). Wifi lag was a bit noticeable, but…

  3. Ryan Stander

    is duet comatible with windows 10?

    • John Miller

      Many people have issues with Duet on Windows 10. For me, it sometimes crashes the OS so hard that it requires a hard reset. It seems to be a problem at the driver level. Additionally, I am not able to get retina resolution working in Duet on Windows 10; only the blurry scaled resolution works (Duet crashes every time I try to use a better resolution). I tried on a very powerful workstation and on a MacBook Pro in bootcamp.

  4. Tchi Yuan

    Same problem as John Miller with windows 10. When setting duet at low resolution, text is blurry on ipad air 2 and when setting duet at high resolution with windows 10 scaling, text is also blurry. I don’t know if it’s a shortcoming from windows 10 or duet but I’m guessing windows 10 as it’s notoriously known that windows doesn’t handle high dpi well

  5. Mondo

    You can get Air Display 3 and Air Display 2 as a bundle through the App Store on iOS for the same price as you will get Air Display 3 for; $14.99.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


To Top