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Duet display is an app that lets you use your tablet or laptop as an external display for another computer. For example, this app will let you extend your Windows or MacOS desktop over to your iPad or Android tablet.
I’ve been using Duet Display for years so let me share with you the pros and cons, and how this app compares to more affordable options. This is a difficult review to write because there are so many things, apps and settings to test so I will not be able to cover everything the app has to offer.
And as an artist and graphic designer, I will also cover pen performance.
Duet Display is available as a subscription service with a more expensive one-time purchase option.
Why choose Duet Display when there are more affordable wireless display apps available?
The main selling point of this app is for people who use multiple devices and platforms, e.g. you have several tablets and laptops. Duet Display, to the best of my knowledge, is the only wireless display app that supports the most number platforms or OS. So if you only have one tablet that you want to use as a wireless display, you can still choose Duet Display, but it would make more sense to go with more affordable alternatives.
Duet Display works well enough but it’s not without downsides which I will mention further below.
If you use a pen-supported tablet and is thinking of getting Duet Display so that you can use your desktop apps, e.g. Photoshop, Corel, Affinity Photo, the drawing performance will vary due to inconsistencies and the tablets you use. You will get better drawing performance with a non-portable pen display, but that means spending extra money.
Duet Display can be used as a remote desktop app, but there’s the Chrome Remote Desktop app which is free.
Whether Duet Display is worth is really comes down to the individual and your expectation. If the alternatives I’ve mentioned below can suit your needs, go with those options instead because they are more affordable.
What devices can Duet Display work with
The table below shows the various wireless display apps I’ve tested, and the devices those apps can work with.
The column on the left are devices which you may want to use as external displays.
|Apple SideCar, Duet Display, Duet Air, Luna Display
|Duet Display, Luna Display, Spacedesk, WiredXDisplay, Twomon SE, Deskreen, EasyCanvas
|Duet Display, Duet Air, Tab Display ($3)
|Samsung Second Screen (free), SuperDisplay ($10), Spacedesk (free), WiredXDisplay (free), Twomon SE ($9-15), Deskreen (free), EasyCanvas ($15)
|Duet Air, Luna Display
|Duet Air, Luna Display
Mac or Windows devices cannot be used as wireless displays for iPads and Android tablets.
iPads and Android tablets cannot be used as wireless displays for other iPads and Android tablets.
Duet Display is the only app I know that runs on iPad, Android, Mac and Windows.
This review does not cover remote desktop. I’m only talking about extended desktop mode, e.g. being able to move your cursor from one display to the other.
The various plans
Below are the plans offered by Duet Display:
- Duet Starter is for those who just have one tablet they want to use as an external display.
- Duet Air can be used with up to three devices.
- Duet Studio has support for pen, pressure sensitivity and touch gestures. This can be used with up to three devices.
- Duet Pro has all of Duet Studio features, and can be used with up to 10 devices.
- Duet Teams has collaborative features.
The prices (USD) as seen on the desktop are as follows:
- Duet Starter: $3/month
- Duet Air: $4/month, $199 lifetime
- Duet Studio: $6/month, $229 lifetime
- Duet Pro: $7/month, $249 lifetime
- Duet Teams: $5/month
I purchased the Duet Air plan years ago when it was still a one-time purchase but now it’s a subscription. Users who bought Duet Air in the past can still use the app but those with trouble restoring past purchase should contact the Duet Display support.
The best time to buy is during Black Friday where discount can be up to 20%. I’ve since upgraded to Duet Pro with a one-time purchase of the lifetime plan for USD 199 during Black Friday.
$199 still a lot of money for a wireless display app when alternatives are USD 10 or less. I bought Duet Display because I use and test many tablets, Mac and Windows devices. Since Duet Display works with almost all platforms, except Linux, I don’t have to remember the specific app that can work with any pair of tablet or computer.
Duet Display can be purchased from the Apple App Store too, but at a higher price:
- Duet Starter – $3.99/month, $39.99/year
- Duet Air – $5.99/month, $49.99/year
- Duet Pro – $7.99/month, $89.99/year
If you want to get Duet Display, purchasing it from their website will be cheaper than through Apple App Store.
How does the app work?
Before you can use Duet Display, you have to install the apps on the tablet or computer. Once the apps are launched, your devices should detect each other wirelessly, ready to connect. Once connected, you can choose to extend your desktop over to the tablet.
You can use either wireless or wired connection (less latency). Depending on which OS or tablet you’re using, you may have to disable wireless connection through settings first before wired connection can be used. Sometimes you can just connect a cable the wireless connection is dropped automatically.
There’s auto-rotation and it works well. But sometimes it can take longer time to rotate and adjust resolution.
Settings that appear with wireless connection
Once connected, your tablet will work as an external wireless display with options to change resolution, extend or mirror the desktop. Auto rotation will work with tablets.
The connection is through wifi, not Bluetooth, and latency will be affected by wifi connection strength. The app also provides data such as encoder bitrate, stream bandwidth, network round trip time, app level round trip time, network round trip time variance. I wish where was some colour coding to let you know how good a connection is, e.g. good for strong, orange for so-so and red for bad (low latency).
The amount of latency is quite similar to other wireless display apps I’ve tested. Huge advantage here is there’s option to use wired connection to improve latency. The app can work with VPN.
Switching resolution and auto-rotation can be fast or slow depending on connection strength.
Display settings can be accessed through OS settings.
The refresh rate is not shown with wireless connection but from what I can see, it’s likely just 30Hz. Image quality also isn’t gonna be the best even when highest image quality settings is selected.
Settings that appear with wired connection
To use wired connection for better latency performance, it’s best to use a USB-C video cable. With wired connection, you can get Retina resolution (sharper visuals) and refresh rate up to 60Hz (even if your tablet supports 120Hz).
I prefer using wired connection at home because improved latency and visual quality translates directly to better user experience.
The iPad app has a settings button at the bottom left. There’s also a touchbar with more shortcuts at the bottom. Both settings button and touchbar can be removed if needed.
Whether there’s hovering cursor preview will depend on the tablet you use.
Shown below is the list of finger gestures supported. The gestures on the bottom half of the list only works on iPads and not Android tablets.
How well the gestures work, or if they are supported, will depend on the drawing apps used.
The pressure curve can be adjusted. On the iPad, you can place your pen tip on the pressure point to move it. On Android tablets there’s a glitch where you have to move the area around the pressure point instead of having the pen tip on the pressure point.
As there is latency regardless of a wireless or wired connection, the company has a lead line feature to show you a preview of the line before your actual stroke will appear.
iPad app has three lead line options: Adaptive, Simple and None. Android has Simple and None.
Simple lead line is a thin blue line before your actual stroke catches up. Adaptive lead line has the same colour as your brush.
Pen performance with various tablet and computer pairs
In terms of visual quality and sharpness, Duet Display is better compared to most alternatives mentioned below.
Whether there’s cursor preview with hover on Android tablets will depend on the Android tablet you use.
Mac with iPad as wireless display
You can use Apple Sidecar which is free. I would occasionally experience Sidecar freezing and have to restart the connection which is quite annoying. The only other option I know of is to use Duet Display.
Duet Display is pen support for tilt and pressure sensitivity. Finger gestures are supported. Whether palm rejection works will depend on the app you use.
Photoshop has issues with dots appearing at the start and end of the line.
Using gestures to zoom, pan, rotate may create stray strokes.
Medibang does not have palm rejection.
Anyway, for best drawing performance, you should use apps that can already run on the tablet. E.g. Medibang Paint, Clip Studio are already available on iPad so there’s no reason to run the desktop version on the extended display of the iPad.
Tilt works but you will not see the cursor preview even when pen tip is hovering.
I’ve tried Affinity Photo and pen pressure performance is alright.
Overall drawing experience is not good since palm rejection doesn’t work well so you cannot rest your palm on the display, and using finger gestures can create stray strokes.
Mac with Android tablet as wireless display
You can use Tab Display which is just USD 3 (at time of review). Latency performance is not bad. Downside is there’s no pen support, and there’s no Retina Display option so visual can still look fuzzy even on a high resolution display.
Whether to spend more to get Duet Display will come down to whether you want the sharper visuals.
For some reason, Duet Display could not get pressure sensitivity to work.
Windows with iPad as wireless display
There are so many options to choose from: Duet Display, Luna Display ($79), Spacedesk (free), WiredXDisplay (free), Twomon SE ($9-15), Deskreen (free), EasyCanvas ($15).
Spacedesk is great because it’s free. Two limitations are there’s no pen support, and refresh rate on the tablet is limited to 30Hz. There’s no issue with scaling so visuals are sharp. Latency performance is not bad.
If you need pen support for drawing, consider EasyCanvas or Luna Display (read my full review).
Duet Display has pen support with pressure sensitivity but no tilt. Finger gestures are supported. Palm rejection works. There’s cursor preview with hover. Drawing experience is not bad, good even.
Windows with Android tablet as wireless display
The most popular wireless display app for Android tablet is SuperDisplay which is really worth the money at just $10. If you use Samsung tablets, you can consider Samsung Second Screen which is free. Both apps have pen support.
Duet Display has pen support with pressure sensitivity but no tilt. Finger gestures are supported. Palm rejection works. There’s cursor preview with hover. Drawing experience is actually not bad.
SuperDisplay and Samsung Second Screen are great alternatives to Duet Display. The only reason to get Duet Display over those two apps is because you have other devices you want to use Duet Display on, e.g. Mac, iPad.
Photoshop works well without those issues you see with Mac and iPad pairing.
I hope the company can fix the many inconsistencies as mentioned above.
I use Duet Display mostly for the external display so I’m not too bothered by pen support.
So who should buy this app? Those who use many tablets and laptops, and those who cannot find cheaper app alternatives that work the way you want it to work.
There are actually more settings, advanced settings that I did not cover.
I hope this review is useful. If you still have questions regarding this app, let me know in the comments section.
And don’t forget, if you have intention to buy Duet display, get it through my affiliate link to support my blog and the work I do here.
Original content by www.parkablogs.com – “Artist Review: Duet Display wireless display app”
Read the full article at https://www.parkablogs.com/content/artist-review-duet-display-wireless-display-app ‘