How to use your Android tablet as a secondary display

Put your tablet to work as a secondary PC display, to get more things done.

If you own an Android tablet, you probably get most of your real work done on a desktop or laptop PC, and use your tablet primarily for casual Web browsing and content consumption. But you can use your tablet to improve your productivity, too. Since a tablet is essentially a portable touchscreen, why not repurpose it during work hours as a secondary display?

In this article I'll outline how to configure an Android tablet (or a compatible Android smartphone) as a secondary PC display. I'll explain how to install a couple of apps on an Android-based tablet and on a Windows 7 PC, and then I'll show how to configure them to work together to extend (or mirror) the PC's desktop. These capabilities are not confined to Android and Windows 7, however; do some digging on your own, and you should discover other screen-mirroring apps for any version of Windows from XP forward, as well as for Mac OS X, iOS, and Android.

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For the purposes of this guide, I'm going to focus on how to set up the least-expensive screen-extension application we could find; it's called Redfly ScreenSlider, and at of the time of this writing it was available for $1. (We tried to find a suitable free alternative, but had no luck. If you can find a better free alternative, share it with other readers in the Comments section below.) Alternatives such as Air Display or iDisplay are available for about $3 to $5, so even if you require a different app for your particular setup, it shouldn't break the bank.

What You Need

To use your Android tablet as a secondary PC display, you need a few things aside from the tablet and PC apps. First, you need a compatible tablet running Android 3.01 or newer (or a smartphone running Android 2.2 or newer) and Windows XP (32-bit) or Windows 7 (32 or 64-bit). For demonstration purposes we're using an app that works over a Wi-Fi connection, so the tablet and PC must be connected to the same network and reside on the same subnet.

Once you have downloaded the necessary apps, and you're sure that the tablet and PC are connected to the same network, the installation and configuration processes are pretty straightforward. Keep in mind that although I'm focusing on Android, Windows, and ScreenSlider here, the processes are very similar with the other apps I mentioned earlier. Typically you have to download the app to your tablet, download a companion connector app to your computer, pair the two devices, and then tweak a couple of settings to your liking.

Install the Tablet App, and Give Your Tablet a Name

The first step is to install the Redfly ScreenSlider app, which you can download from the Google Play store.

After installing ScreenSlider, run the app. The first time ScreenSlider launches, it will ask you to enter a unique name for your tablet. The name can be anything you likeit serves only to identify the tablet during the initial setup phase for the companion PC application. We used a Samsung Galaxy Tab for this project, so we named our tablet accordingly. After you enter a name, leave ScreenSlider running.

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