Air Display In Review – Extending Any Desktop Anytime, Anywhere

One of the pitfalls of any PC or Mac is usable screen space. It’s not always practical to add another monitor to your setup and in some cases, you just don’t have the room. Thankfully, with Avatron Software’s Air Display (developers of popular storage app Air Sharing) you can turn that pretty new iPad into an on-the-spot extension of any display within seconds.

The idea of extending your desktop is not a new idea at all. However with the successful introduction of the iPad and how heavily it has integrated itself into our day to day lives (not to mention it’s beautiful 10″ screen), it just seems like the perfect device to turn into a secondary display. And if you wish to turn your iPhone/iPod Touch into a secondary display as well, Air Display is equipped to do just that since it is a universal app.

For once, the app design (which for me is always a HUGE aspect) has no impact on the device at all. On launch you are shown some simple instructions on how to setup they’re easy to follow. A small utility must first be installed on your laptop or desktop, and from that you will edit your preferences. Currently there is only support for the Mac, but Avatron has promised a Windows version in the very near future.

Once the Air Display utility is up and running on your Mac (and the app opened on your iDevice), you will see your device in the drop down. Select it and your extended display will change from the instructions page to a simple background. After that it’s entirely up to you how you wish to use the extra space. The great thing about Air Display is that you can install it on any Mac and create more working room anytime you need it.

It is just impressive how the extended display really acts like a second monitor. When you have a program running in full screen, it extends only into the iDevice display and not across both. Also, since you are using the iPad (or iPhone) as a display and not the main computer, any program you have on your mac will run within the display (including flash, although for it was a bit sluggish during testing). I do have to mention that although the quality of the extended display looks good for the most part, I did notice some pixelation.

Another great feature is that Air Display will function in both landscape AND portrait. So if you’re looking at a spreadsheet and need to maximize your column view, you can rotate your iPad and view it in landscape mode. Or, if your trying to read documents, simply rotate it back for portrait.

The last feature that I really love is that since your iPad IS a “touch” device, those touch controls are fully available for whatever program you have extended via the Air Display app. That means you can use your finger to control music on your Mac, add up numbers on a calculator app or even draw directly into a painting software – all from the comforts of your iDevice. That said, the touch controls aren’t quite perfect yet as users may experience a slight delay between the two screens. It’s definitely a good start though and the response time will likely be improved via future updates.

Air Display’s main goal is to allow users to create a second display with ease and give them more working room, and it certainly manages to do it well. After all’s said and done, I do recommend the app to anyone with an iPad (or iPhone/iPod Touch) who would like to extend their desktops anytime, anywhere and soon on any computer (hold tight PC’ers). The price tag could be a concern for some (currently at $9.99), but the potential increase in productivity (not to mention cool factor) is well worth it.

Update: It should be worth noting that the Mac OS X Air Display client currently requires 10.5.8 (Leopard) or 10.6 (Snow Leopard) or later, on an Intel CPU.

App Summary
Title: Air Display Developer: Avatron Software, Inc.
Reviewed Ver: 1.1 Min OS Req:
Price: $9.99 App Size: 2.4 MB
  • Installing utility on any mac (soon pc) means extended desktops anywhere
  • Super easy setup
  • Anything your computer runs will display
  • Actually runs on your iPhone/iPod Touch too
  • Videos played sluggishly
  • Memory intensive programs tended to crash display


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