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What do you do with your iPhone or iPad when it’s sitting next to your Mac? Air Display connects your iOS device and your Mac over Wi-Fi, allowing you to use the additional screen space as part of your Desktop -- and also interact via the touch display. The possibilities are numerous; designating a display to your Twitter and IM clients or grouping your Photoshop palettes and brushes on to one screen are just a couple of examples.
The iPad is obviously the ideal option here, but even used with the iPhone and iPod touch, Air Display has its benefits; plus it's offered as a universal app. Air Display makes your iOS device act exactly like an external monitor, so all the normal mirroring and arrangement features are available through System Preferences > Displays, and you can even use it if you’re already running a second display.
In our tests we were pleased to discover that the app also supported portrait and landscape orientation, although there is a slight delay when switching between the two. Setup is a breeze, requiring a small software download to your Mac and a system restart to get up and running.
A major bonus of Air Display is that, as long as your Wi-Fi signal remains strong, so does the connection to your external display. Unlike earlier releases of the app, our connection remained rock solid without any annoying connection drops.
While it’s a little overkill using Air Display with a 27-inch iMac, MacBook users will certainly see the benefit of extending their Desktop; use an iPad and you're adding a very welcome 9.7 inches to the working area.
Air Display does highlight, however, just how impractical a touchscreen Mac would be. Mac OS X simply isn’t designed for touch input, and it’ll take a little time to get used to dragging and scrolling on your iOS device’s screen. This is, of course, not the fault of Air Display. It does its very best to keep the refresh rate high and delay short, but the Mac OS is best used in conjunction with your existing mouse. That said, in the case of palettes, media players, and other “push button-only” uses, Air Display offers a perfectly acceptable and highly useful experience.
The bottom line. If you’re pushed for screen space on your current Mac, 11-inch MacBook Air users especially, Air Display is a cost-effective and convenient way to give your self more room to work with without the need unsightly cables or additional power supplies.
iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad running iOS 3.2 or later
Ideal for laptop users. Easy to install and set up. Cheaper than an external display.
Controlling Mac OS X via touch can be tricky. Slight delay when switching iOS orientation