Sunday, 24 June 2018 23:50

DUO promises 'on-the-go dual screen laptop monitor', raises funds in 4 hours

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A new Kickstarter campaign, to give your laptop a relatively inexpensive second screen that can "slide out", raised its funding amount in just four hours, and has nearly raised 10 times that amount, but can Duet Display and an iPad do the same thing, today?

If you see many modern computer set-ups in homes and offices, you often notice that people are using more than one monitor.

Many people use two or three monitors, and one friend I know has a whopping eight monitors set up, attached to two computers – four for each.

The thing is, when you're on the go, how practical is it to carry around a second monitor? Unless it's the size of a modern tablet, any kind of second monitor is completely impractical to lug around, so generally speaking, you don't see people using laptops using two screens, they just struggle with the one.

Well, at least a couple of years ago, former Apple employees came up with a way of using an iPad as a second screen — with touch, at that — for a Mac, and have since expanded its usage to Windows PCs, too, called Duet Display, with the app on iPad costing A$30.99, and obviously less in the US.

Even Duet was preceded by apps like AirDisplay, although this app only works with macOS, and broke with macOS 10.13.4, let alone the new 10.13.5. It also had a Windows app which has since been discontinued.

Still, DuetDisplay works with both PC and Mac, but of course you need to buy what is generally not such an inexpensive iPad to go with it, although if you have an older iPad, it's a great way to give that older iPad a new lease of life as a second screen for your portable computer.

So in comes Duo, a new Kickstarter campaign that bills itself as a "completely portable dual-screen laptop accessory that promises to boost your productivity by up to 50% and allows for efficient multitasking".

You simple "attach DUO to the back of any laptop" using provided adhesive-backed magnets which connect to a housing that the DUO screen slides into, and the creators say "you’re ready to work wherever you are!"

You can arrange the housing so the second screen slides out either to the right of left of your main screen, and the screen can also be folded to face someone looking at the back of your laptop, now with second screen, in presentation mode.

The project boasts it was fully funded in less than four hours. The organisers were seeking the equivalent of A$47,000, and have already raised $351,885, with 30 days to go for the campaign at time of publication.

The Duo second screen is on pre-sale for US $179, or approx A$241, said to be "over 20% off the (future) retail price). It is estimated to ship in January 2019, and looks like an easy way to get a second screen on your laptop computer.

The screen is 12.5-inches, has 1080P resolution, full measurements of 12.8 in. x 8.6 in x 0.48 in, and connects to any Mac, Windows, Linux, Android and Chrome device via USB, and weighs 1.5lbs or 680 grams.

You'd have to imagine that future models will have touch and stylus capabilities, but for now it just appears to be a second screen.

It looks cool, and I can also imagine that there will be tons of Chinese copies quick smart if it takes off, with prices becoming ever cheaper, but for now, you can order one of these and hope there are no production delays, and if you have an iPad, you can do get similar capability right now on PCs and Macs.

I'm sure you'll find a similar app for Android tablets too, with apps like Teamviewer able to duplicate what you have on screen as well for presentation mode, and free at that, although I don't think you can use something like Teamviewer to give you a second screen – only to see what you are already looking at.

So – if you need a second mobile screen, and don't want to go down the iPad and DUET route, an alternative is coming in January 2019, with plenty of great short videos and more at the Kickstarter site here.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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