How to use a tablet as a second monitor

If you have an iPad or Android tablet that you want to use as a second monitor, you can and all you need are the right apps. This article will cover my experience of using my tablets as external displays to my computers. I use iPads and Android tablets, and computers running Mac and Windows.

By external display, I mean extended desktop mode where you can move your cursor from one display to the other.

Below are the apps or accessories you can use to turn your tablet into a second monitor. In some cases there are wireless and cable options.

In the table below, the column on the left are devices which you may want to use as external displays.

iPad Android Mac Windows
iPad Apple SideCar, Duet DIsplay, Duet Air, Luna Display Luna Display
Android Duet Display, Duet Air Samsung Second Screen, SuperDisplay
Mac Duet Air, Luna Display Duet Air, Luna Display
Windows Duet Air Duet Air

The apps listed above are just the ones I know of. If you know of other external display apps or solutions that work well for you, let me know in the comments section.

Samsung Second Screen (free)

If you're using Samsung tablets, Samsung Second Screen (free) may be available and you can use it to turn your tablet into an external display to your Windows.

Just enable Second Screen on your Samsung tablet, then press Win + K shortcut on your Windows computer and the screen above will appear showing options for wireless display connection. Select the tablet and now your tablet will either mirror or go into extended desktop mode.

Pros and cons of Samsung Second Screen:
+ Free
+ Easy to connect
+ Has pen support
+ Has touch support
+ Display settings configurable via Windows
- Limited options for resolution
- Slight latency with pen and mouse
- Image quality has slight colour noise
- Works only on selected Samsung tablets and Windows OS

Duet Display (US $14.99 | $24.99 annually)

Duet Display is possible the most versatile app on this list.

Duet Display can turn your iPad, Android tablet, Mac and Windows computer into external displays. The app is not free though.

This is a Samsung tablet as an external display to my Mac.

The basic app called Duet Display can turn your iPad and Android tablet into external displays for your Mac and Windows. Duet Display is a one time purchase of US $14.99.

Duet Display has touch support but unfortunately no pen support.

Then there's Duet Air which offers more features, such as pen support, remote desktop, use your Mac or Windows computer as an external display, and more. Duet Air is subscription based and cost US $24.99 annually.

Pros and cons of Duet Display:
+ Can turn iPad, Android tablet, Mac and Windows computer into second monitor
+ Good image quality
+ Supports touch
+ Supports HiDPI, Retina resolution, scaling
+ More expensive Duet Air has many useful features
- Slight latency with pen and mouse
- Pen support only available via the annual plan
- Mac and Windows as second monitor only support via Duet Air (monthly subscription)

Luna Display (US $134.99)

Luna Display has two main selling points:

The first selling point is the ability to use your iPad as an external display for your Windows computer. For Mac users, you can already use your iPad as an external display via the SideCar app provided free by MacOS, so there's no reason to buy Luna Display.

The second selling point is you can use Macs with displays, e.g. Macbook or iMac, as an external display for your other Mac and Windows computer.

To get Luna Display working, you have to buy the wireless adapter (either USB-C, HDMI, mini DisplayPort) and install the app.

Pros and cons of Luna Display:
+ Can turn iPad into external display for Mac and Windows computers
+ Has touch and pen support
- Slight latency with pen and mouse
- A physical wireless adapter is needed
- Pricey compared to apps

SideCar (free)

SideCar is a feature built into MacOS that can turn an iPad into an external display for the Mac. SideCar is free and it works really well.

Requirements are MacOS 10.15 and iPadOS 13.

Pros and cons of SideCar:
+ Works seamlessly with iPad and Mac
+ Excellent image quality
+ Good latency response
+ Has touch and pen support
- Works only for iPad and Mac

SuperDisplay (US $10)

SuperDisplay is an Android that can turn any Android tablet into an external display for Windows computers. SuperDisplay is better than Samsung Second Screen in many ways, more specifically there are more options for resolution, and the app works with any Android tablet.

Pros and cons of SuperDisplay:
+ Works with all Android tablet and Windows
+ Many options for resolution
+ Has pen and touch support
- Slight latency with pen and mouse
- Image quality has slight colour noise


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