Daily iPad App: Air Display lets you add an HiDPI monitor to your Mac
We've covered Air Display from Avatron ever since it landed in the iOS App Store in early 2010. The popular utility lets you use your iPad as an external monitor for your Mac or Windows machine. Just like any standard external monitor, Air Display lets you extend your desktop or mirror it onto your tablet device. With the release of the retina iPad and a new retina-capable version of the iOS software, Air Display just became a lot more compelling for new iPad owners.
To get started with Air Display, you'll need a small app that runs on your desktop and a companion app for your iPad (or iPhone). Setting it up is as easy as firing up the app on both devices and then selecting your iPad in the desktop software. The desktop app then manages the connection between the two devices and extends your desktop to the iPad. I use it to keep my browser open on my MacBook Pro and drag both my chat client and Twitter client to the iPad.
The latest version of Air Display takes advantage of the native 2048 x 1536 resolution of the new iPad which means you can fit a lot of content on the screen of your iPad. More is usually better, but, in this case, content on the retina display will be small and difficult to read because of the iPad's high-resolution display.
This isn't a problem if you have a Mac with OS X Lion or Mountain Lion. You can take advantage of the hidden HiDPI mode which provides a comfortable resolution and exceptionally crisp text and images. I'm not exaggerating when I say it's absolutely gorgeous. Beside the stunning UI, Air Display's also been optimized for faster performance, so the overall feel of the latest version of the app is snappier than previous versions.
I've been an Air Display user for over a year now and this version is an excellent upgrade for retina iPad owners. Text is crisp and clear and visual elements from the desktop look gorgeous. At US$10, Air Display is pricey, but it's a must-have for those who occasionally need an external monitor. I would rather pay $10 for the ability to use my iPad as a portable external display than spend over $100 for a stationary monitor.
Air Display is available from the iOS App Store for $9.99. The companion desktop software, Air Display Connect for Mac, can be downloaded from Avatron's website for free. The Mac desktop version supports the Retina display, while the Windows version does not. A retina update for the Windows client is in the works.
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