There are times when having a second monitor can really boost your productivity. But investing in a dual monitor setup might not be a wise move. They are expensive and far for being portable. But, guess what, you can easily use your Android device to serve as second monitor. All you need a right app.
If you own an iPad, you must have heard Duet Display – a popular second monitor app for iPad. Thankfully, Android have them too. We tested almost every second monitor app for Android on Google Playstore, and here are our top picks.
Use Your Android as Second Monitor
In general, you need need to install a second monitor app on your Android and install the app’s drivers on your computer. Once done you can connect your Android to your computer, using a USB cable or WiFi (when both the devices are connected to the same network) and that’s it. You don’t need an Internet connection. So, let’s begin.
1. Spacedesk – Free
Spacedesk is a popular choice to transformed your Android into a second display monitor for Windows PC. I liked Spacedesk because it works on LAN connection so you don’t need Internet. The setup is easy, and offers a lag-free experience. The resolution was high resolution and there is touch support.
Opening the app will automatically detect and display all PCs on the same server that has the drivers installed. Simply tap to connect.
About that last point. What if you wanted to see two different websites or use two different apps on both the screens? Spacedesk will allow you to do that.
Launch the app on your Android and connect to your PC. The app should detect the IP address and name of your system. On your desktop, go to Control Panel and search Display Settings. Select Extend These Displays and click OK. You should see something like this – there are two displays. The second one is your Android screen. You can now use your Android screen independently of your PC giving you more options.
2. Splashtop Wired XDisplay – $6.99
Splashtop Wired Display, as the name suggests, will require you to have a USB handy. Other than that, it’s a fine app that does what it says on the tin. Unlike Spacedesk, Wired XDisplay only works with USB (No LAN support). On the plus side, it supports Retina display(60 fps at 1080p).
Wired XDisplay can be installed on both Mac and PC, giving it an edge over Air Display immediately. Apps are available for both Android and iOS. Splashtop uses USB over WiFi for one simple reason – it offers a more responsive and real-time experience. There is no lag whatsoever. Other than that, the app works and functions exactly like any other screen mirroring app on the market.
If you are looking to save battery, you can reduce resolution and even frame rates in the settings. Because you are using USB, lag is minimal.
3. iDisplay – $17.99
iDisplay started with the Mac version but quickly expanded to included Windows and Android versions to making it a good cross-platform solution. It supports60 fps and plus offers multi-touch on each device you are using it on. iDisplay has everything that other app before it had to offer, however, USB support is not available for Android yet. It does supports WiFi though and comes with multi-touch support as well.
Download the required version for Windows or Mac here. Other than this, there is really no difference between iDisplay and other apps save for the fact that iDisplay will cost you $17.99.
4. Google Remote Desktop – Free
People who are looking to mirror screen and not use Android devices as a secondary screen to use it separately may also consider Google Remote Desktop app. As the name suggests, it will allow you to control your PC via your Android device. It can be used to mirror but you cannot use separate apps on both the screen. It was not meant for that.
Remote Desktop, like all Google products, is easy to use and simple to set up. Ability to control your PC remotely is where it shines the most though. Just food for thought.
5. Air Display 2 – $14.99
Air Display does for Mac what Spacedesk does for Windows PC. It will turn your Android device into a secondary screen for your Macbooks. Air Display 2 also works on iOS devices and Windows. So it is cross-platform enabled but in a limited fashion. I will explain more below. You can download the software to your device or PC here. You can mirror screen to up to 4 secondary devices using Air Display which also supports Retina display.
By all means, Air Display 2 (Air Display 3 in case of Mac) works and operates the same as Spacedesk. It supports all the way back to Mac OS X 10.8 or Lion. The issue is not that it is priced a little more than it should be, the issue is that Avatron Software, creator of Air Display, charges extra every time they release a major upgrade. This is something that I take issue with but that’s just me.
Another thing that I found was that you need to install Air Display Host before you can use your iPhones, Androids, and PCs as a secondary screen. The thing is that Air Host can only be installed on Macs. So the cross-platform compatibility gets a little limited.
You can use PC as a second screen for your Mac but you cannot use Mac or any mobile device as a second screen for your Windows. I read the FAQs section and it says they are working on a solution, but it also says that they are not “close enough” to provide an ETA.
On the plus side, it offers a more responsive experience thanks to the dynamic compression algorithm the team is using. It also supports retina display, something that is missing in Spacedesk.
App also features Air Stylus which you can actually use the secondary device to draw designs on directly.
Wrapping Up: Mirror PC Screen to Android
If you recently moved from iOS to Android and looking for the best alternative to Duet Display, I recommend Spacedesk. It’s free, works as advertised and plays well with other platforms. Splashtop Wired XDisplay is a good second choice, if you run into any sort of issues with Spacedesk. Although if you are looking for more settings and better sync, the latter is a better option for a small price.
I included Air Display because they are working on a Windows platform and because it supports Android. But, they are expensive. I will do a separate in-depth review for Mac users in another post and explore what else we have for options.
Here is a 16″ portable monitor ($90) that you can buy to use as a second monitor. Let me know how your experience was, which app are you using to mirror your PC screen to Android and why.