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Technology Untangled: App lets you use iPad as an extra PC display

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technology-bourThe use of a second monitor with your PC has several advantages. One of the biggest is the ability to have more area to spread out and work with all of your open applications. Instead of stacking multiple windows on top of each other, you can drag several secondary applications away from the main screen and view many windows at once. The down side is the expense and trouble of connecting an additional monitor and the ability to use it only at your desk.

Today we will look at another way to deploy an extra display by using the portable device you likely carry with you everywhere: your iPad. It can provide you with an instant second monitor whenever you need it, with no wires or cables to restrict it. All that is required is an app downloaded to your iPad and some software for your PC. There is a lot of flexibility of hardware choice with this app. You can use your PC or your Mac computer to extend its display to an iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch or Android tablet.

The name of the app is Air Display by Avatron. First, let’s walk through the steps of how to install it, and then we will review how it functions. The software drivers for your computer are free and found at www.avatron.com/apps/air-display. Simply download the appropriate setup file and install. Next, search for Air Display in the app store for your iPad or Android. Unfortunately, this app is not free. It is $9.99, but once paid for and installed on your tablet, the app will work with multiple computers, so you could use your extra monitor both at home and at the office.

Air Display communicates through Wi-Fi, so to extend your screen, both your tablet and computer must be connected to the same network. This allows you to take your extra iPad monitor away from your desk and essentially work on your computer remotely from anywhere within Wi-Fi range. If you are away from your Wi-Fi network, in court or mediation for example, you can still use Air Display by establishing an ad hoc (computer-to-computer) network between your two devices. Straightforward instructions for ad hoc connection are included at the Avatron website.

To establish the link, launch the Air Display app on your iPad, then open the program on your computer. Right click the new icon on your menu bar, and you will see a choice to connect to your iPad. Within a few moments, the extended Windows screen appears on the iPad. The first time I did this, I did a double take when I saw the unusual sight of the Windows logo from my computer desktop now emblazoned on my Apple iPad!

Functions at this point are similar to using any typical monitor in extended screen mode. From the Air Display options menu on the computer you can choose to extend the display not only to the left or the right but also to the top or bottom. These additional placements are not possible with a traditional monitor. As an example, the extended screen could be used to view PDF exhibit scans on your iPad while researching information from those documents on your main screen. You can also choose to duplicate/mirror your desktop view. This method could be useful if you wanted a client or associate to watch what you are doing on your computer without them having to hover over your shoulder.

The display resolution is fair but not great. It is crisp, but the response time and refresh rate are a little slow. It feels sluggish. It reminds me of the interface you get when working remotely with GoToMyPC. As an aside, GoToMyPC now has an app for tablets and smartphones. Perhaps I will need to review that soon.

One nice added feature compared to the typical extended monitor is the ability to perform touch-screen functions on your computer via the iPad. While you do gain some degree of touch-screen navigation, the functionality is somewhat limited compared to the normal iPad. For example, you cannot pinch to shrink a view or spread your fingers to zoom it. Computer mouse and keyboard functions can be mimicked on the touch screen, theoretically allowing you to perform all computer functions via the iPad while away from your computer. I found this to be serviceable but somewhat clumsy.

The biggest functional disappointment for me was when trying to view videos on the external monitor. Most videos would not display when dragged over to the extended display. A few videos would display, but only if they were highly compressed or if the pixel array was postage-stamp size. High-resolution video will not work.

In spite of some shortcomings, I like the idea of being able to use the iPad as an external monitor, and I will mainly use it to keep an eye on background utility applications that otherwise would be hidden behind my main computer window.•

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Stephen Bour (bourtech@iquest.net) is an engineer and legal technology consultant in Indianapolis. His company, the Alliance for Litigation Support Inc., includes Bour Technical Services and Alliance Court Reporting. Areas of service include legal videography, tape analysis, document scanning to CD and courtroom presentation support. The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author.

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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