Sunday, May 27, 2012

iPad 3 as a Cinema Display on-the-go

I've been using an iPad 3rd gen as a "Cinema Display" secondary monitor on-the-go.

At work, I have multi-monitor setup which includes a 30" Apple Cinema Display running at 2560x1600 resolution. I've been a bit spoiled with that high of a resolution. I often cringe when I go back to anything lower. At home, I have dual 24" IPS Dells displays each running 1080p (1980x1080) and its not the same experience.  Unfortunately, dual display 24" HD is the most I can afford to splurge at home.  High Definition 1080p monitors are a dime a dozen. One can be bought at the local Walmart  or Staples for a hundred dollars and change.  Anything over 1080p is going to cost an arm and leg. For example, the Dell, Samsung, and Apple 27" displays start at $900 and go way up.

So when the iPad 3 came out, the 2048x1536 "retina" resolution caught my attention. 
Yes, it is that big of a deal! The screen is absolutely stunning, gorgeous and whatever nice superlatives I can throw at it. Even at 9.7 inches, it is amazingly sharp. Reading text feels like reading a postcard or magazine.

For me, the best use of that screen real estate is none other than using it as a multi-monitor secondary display. You could already use the first and second gen iPad as a secondary monitor using various apps on the app store. The premise is very simple, the apps along with a desktop application act as a virtual display driver. With the iPad 3, the experience has to be seen to be appreciated. Hence, the term and reason why I call it the "Cinema Display on-the-go."

For my app of choice. I use Avatron Air Display
By checking off some preferences in the display drivers, you can unleash all those tiny little pixels for your pleasure.

Here is a screen shot (scaled down). As you can see, you can fit a lot of things on that screen.

Why is this a big deal? Well, if you work with multiple displays, you can spread your work across screens. UNIX like OSes often have multiple virtual views that you can tab across but it is not the same as the having physical displays.

Secondary monitors are often used as "palette monitors" (industry speak) where users would dock their palette/tool panels to smaller monitors. So if you are using Photoshop/Illustrator, your main canvas would be on the main display and all your tools would be docked in the smaller palette monitor. If you are editing video, you can have your waveforms and timeline on a palette monitor while your preview and scrubbing display is on the primary.

For end-to-end web-developers (those who do both front-end and back-end), multi-monitors is indispensable. For example, I have a file browser, web browser, text/IDE editor on my main smaller monitor for my front end stuff. Then on the larger monitor (cinema display), I would have firebug to evaluate XMLHTTPrequest/XHR requests, a SQL query tool to make queries, a javascript console, and various terminals for logging stuff like tailing (tail -f) apache error logs.

Link: Air Display

Unfortunately wifi multi-monitor seems to be a OSX/Windows for the time being. Linux,as usual, is left out in the cold.

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