Mac Setups: MacBook Air 11″ & iPad

May 21, 2011 - 10 Comments

MacBook Air 11 with an iPad using AirDisplay

Combining the MacBook Air 11″ with an iPad is looking more and more like the best way to create an ultraportable Mac setup. The iPad becomes a portable second display thanks to apps like AirDisplay and DisplayPad (App Store link), and the combined weight of an iPad and the smallest MacBook Air is about the same as a MacBook Pro 13″… except you have dual screens with a combined screen resolution of 2390×768 . Not bad huh?

Image via Flickr


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Posted by: William Pearson in Mac Setups


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  1. Michael says:

    Would you have to travel with a wifi router then? Are you relying on someone else’s wifi?

  2. Dave says:

    Interesting. What we need now is a TB/Display port in the iPad with the ability to set up iPad as a target display. I was actually hoping that that iPad 2 rumor was true.

  3. Anthony says:

    I’ve been trying this every so often with an app called iDisplay but the lag is unbearable. Is there any way to iPad/iPhone screen share over a USB connection instead of WI-FI?

    • Dave says:

      Hi Anthony;

      I can’t say with authority because I just heard about this technique but would USB be even slower? There is also an issue with Apple keeping that port to themselves.

      Speaking out of my rear I’d have to say that this would only be viable right now for text display that is more or less static. It wouldn’t matter what the port is as you are using the iPads CPU to decode what ever encoding is being used and then piping it to the screen. It would be nice if this wasn’t the case, hopefully actual userswill fill us in.

    • Will says:

      Good question. I haven’t seen a solution that uses the USB connection, yet at least. Due to the WiFi use, these types of apps tend to perform best on speedy local networks, and it’s probably best to use the iPad screen for things like text and the web since video performance will not be stellar.

  4. steven says:

    great setup. i use the same.
    if you use the app displaypad than a multimon config is posible. if both devices are fully charged. and you put both chargers in the wallbrackets. the total power is 21 watts.
    pretty good for a portable multion config.
    go trie that with other hardware
    in other times I use the ipad as a mediaplayer, for a movie or a lecture wile working on the MBA.
    only the iphone is missing in this ultraportable configuration.

    • steven says:

      dit not read all of the text.
      by carrying the combination in a bag with both chargers is roughly the same weight as my MBP without anything.

    • chaunced says:

      I want this setup – such portable dual screens is a thing of beauty. I wish Apple would integrate native sharing of iPad display with a Mac, some way to avoid the lag on slower WiFi connections.

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