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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

DuetDisplay 1.1.3 review

IMG 0183 1





Appleinsider's review of Duet Display caught my attention last week. The developers seek to enable users of Retina Macs, particulary Retina MacBook Pros, to use their Retina iPads to display a second screen at Retina resolution. By using a wired connection, as opposed to Wi-Fi/Airplay, you can view video on this secondary display at close to or the same speed that the main screen displays.


Appleinsider reviewed the 0.3+ release of Duet Display and it still had some problems to work out. On Wednesday, January 7th, the developers released version 1.0.0 of the Duet app for the iPad/iPhone and version 1.3.3 for the controlling Mac.


How does it work?


DuetDisplay, like many apps for both the iPad and Mac, consists of two parts. You purchase the iOS app through the iTunes App Store, just like other apps. It costs $14.99. (I paid for mine through iTunes Gift Cards from my relatives. Thanks again!)


The companion Mac app is free. You go to to download it. On the first run, it will install the custom Apple-approved graphics driver


Use the cable that came with your iPad that you use to recharge it to connect to the desired Mac. Start it on your iPad. Start it on your Mac. Adjust preferences as desired.


Does it really display video at full speed without choppiness?


Yes, it does display video at full speed. I tested it using a Mac Mini 2012 running Chrome with a USB 2.0 connection between Mac and iPad. No dropped frames, no choppiness with The Tonight Show clips of lip-sync battles from YouTube.


What are the problems with Duet Display?


The initial connection can prove tricky. You may have to close the iPad app and open it again. You may have to reboot your Mac in order to initialize the custom graphics driver installed by DuetDisplay.


It also dropped out when I went away from the Mac and the lock screen came on. I had to restart my Mac to get it to run.


It has the obvious problem of tethering you to the USB to 30-pin/Lighting cable that came with your iPad. So if you want to pass the iPad around at a table to show something, you would have to add a USB extension cable. Having that snaking across the table might prove inconvenient, too.


What are the available options?


DuetDisplay (Figure 1) has a gear icon that drops a menu of selections. If you have questions, use the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). This takes you to the FAQ section on their Web site. I found the FAQ clear and understandable, written in laymen's terms.


FAQ on Website 1 7 2015



DuetDisplay Resolution Choices 1 7 2015


Frame Rate DuetDisplay 1 7 2015



Performance Options DuetDisplay 1 7 2015


Preferences Options DuetDisplay 1 7 2015

DuetDisplay actively develops its software. Check the app for an update. It will tell you when a new update becomes available.


This version of DuetDisplay lets you use touch to manipulate an OS X program. I could move iTunes radio stations around. Trying to click on a button proved problematic, though.


What versions of OS X does it work with?


It works with OS X 10.9.5 and 10.10.1. It doesn't work with the beta of 10.10.2 and the FAQ states so at the top of the page.


What is the competition?


The obvious competition is a hard-wired monitor. Now I tried DuetDisplay while I connected a second monitor to the MiniDisplayPort. (My primary display goes into the Mac Mini’s HDMI port) It worked! I had three monitors and I used the Display Preference Pane to arrange them.


Now what about other iPad/Mac apps? I tried Avatron's Air Display and it worked flawlessly. It is a more mature app combination using Wi-Fi/Air Display. Fast-paced video, though, shows artifacts. This is due to the speed of the Wi-Fi. As this improves with successive iPads and Macs, expect the performance gap to narrow.


I already have Air Display! Would I need to uninstall it to use DuetDisplay?


You can have both apps installed on your iPad and Macs. Just remember to turn off the one not used before starting the other one.


And DuetDisplay does come with its own uninstaller, just in case. No Terminal work needed.


Which is the better app?


Which app works better for you depends on your circumstances. If only you intend to use your iPad to view videos as a secondary display and will use the iPad and Mac in close proximity, then DuetDisplay gets the nod. If you intend to display graphs or spreadsheets on an iPad you will pass around a table, then Air Display gets the nod.


I have a 3rd generation iPad, the first Retina model. Is that too old?


You have to run at least iOS 7.0 to use DuetDisplay. I'm using a 3rd generation iPad and it works fine.


Just asking...does it work with an iPhone? And what about Windows?


I tried with my iPhone 5C running iOS 8 and it worked like a charm. Unfortunately, you can't run multiple iOS devices as secondary screens-yet.


IPhone running DuetDisplay 1 7 2015


The usefulness of an iPhone secondary display was marginal for me. Maybe with an iPhone 6 Plus, though...


If you look in the FAQ, they say Windows compatibility will happen sooner than you think.




DuetDisplay gives iPad and MacBook Air/Pro owners additional screen space running at full speed and taking up less room than a regular hard-wired monitor. As it doesn't depend on Wi-Fi for the connection, you don't have to deal with the problems of hotel Wi-Fi.


Tom Briant

Editor, MacValley Blog

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