Dual monitors are increasingly becoming the norm for today’s hyper-connected workstations. Whether you’re trying to keep track of different browser tabs at work or you need more on-the-go workspace for your business trip, a tablet  can act as a handy second monitor and a boon to productivity.
Tablet  use is certainly on the rise. Apple unveiled the iPad Mini on Oct. 23. CEO Tim Cook also announced that the company sold its 100 millionth iPad  earlier in October. Google’s Nexus 7 and Nexus 10  will be available in November; pre-orders for the Microsoft Surface are sold out ; Asus unveiled its Vivo Tab RT  last week; and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2  remains a popular model.
Mobility is one of the main reasons people choose tablets. But owners don’t have to use tablets in the traditional sense to get the most out of their devices — add a tablet to your overall desktop setup to streamline productivity. Here are some instructions to help get you started.
Download a Second Display App
While it takes a bit more work than simply connecting a standard display, there’s no hacking required to use your tablet as a second monitor. Several iOS and Android apps essentially fool your desktop into thinking that you’re connecting another external monitor to the system. Here’s a short list of the more popular apps available, which can help you configure your setup within minutes.
- Air Display  ($9.99): Air Display lets you connect your iPad or Android device to your Mac or Windows computer, but also lets you connect your laptop as a wireless second monitor for your desktop.
- iDisplay  ($4.99): This app, created by Shape.ag, quickly sets up your portable monitor.
- REDFLY ScreenSlider  ($1.99; currently 50% off): ScreenSlider is only for Android devices used with Windows computers. The website says that it will be available for other devices soon.
- MaxiVista  ($9.99): Only for use with iPads and Windows operating systems.
- Splashtop XDisplay  (Free for 10 minutes at a time; $4.99 in-app purchase for extended use): Splashtop is known more for its app, which gives you remote access to your desktop. But by downloading XDisplay and the Splashtop Streamer, you can set up your iPad as a second monitor.
These apps all have similar and straightforward setup instructions. To use iDisplay as an example, here’s what you should expect as far as configuration goes.
- Make sure your computer and tablet are both connected to the same Wi-Fi network.
- Download the iDisplay app to your tablet.
- Download the desktop client to your computer and run it.
- Set up permissions/allow firewall exceptions (if applicable).
- Open the app on your device and select your computer’s name.
- The screen should flash, and your tablet should be connected.
- If the size of screen on your tablet seems small, you may need to pinch-and-zoom to correct it, or you may need to disconnect and reconnect.
Note that these directions may change slightly, depending on the app or operating system (rebooting may be required). Follow the prompts for your chosen app and desktop client, and consult the app’s website if you run into any issues.
Once setup is complete, you’ll have a new, touchscreen display that will help you complete any project in a shorter amount of time.
Alternative: Use Tablet as a Standalone Monitor
If you feel like your tablet was expensive enough and you don’t want to spend even more money on these apps, there’s always the no-hassle but often overlooked option of using your tablet next to your primary monitor.
Invest in a sturdy stand or transformable cover for your tablet and set it on your desk. While you’re sending emails, writing an article or drafting a spreadsheet on your computer, you can use your tablet to display TweetDeck or HootSuite, Netflix or CNN, Pinterest or Spotify, etc.
How do you plan on using your tablet as an additional monitor?
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November 1, 2012