Thursday, May 20, 2021

Combining PC and Tablet / Tablet as monitor / Tablet as sketchpad in Teams

Use your tablet as an extra screen or input device for your PC, or as a sketchpad for meetings. This post only describes solutions for Windows 10 in combination with an Android tablet, but there are similar options when you're using a Mac and / or an iPad.


Working from home

There's a little hope of Cornona on its way out, but no matter what, working from home has become the new normal, or at least part of the new normal.

That means human interaction is somewhat limited and we all rely on video calls to get our work done. One of the things missing is sketching on a whiteboard. Drawing on a screen would be nice, but not all of us own a Wacom Cintiq or similar device. There are other ways if you own a tablet.


Working on the road

As a bonus, I'll look at using my tablet as a secondary screen. That's a handy option for the road warriors amongst us. And without a time, those times will return.


My hardware

I'm testing this with a Ryzen 5 desktop, and an older Dell M2800 laptop, in combination with a Samsung Tab S7 Lite.


Show screen

Tablet --> Wifi --> PC

A. Share your tablet screen in a Microsoft Teams call
B. Share your tablet full screen

PC --> Television

C. Cast your PC screen to a smart TV (Chromecast)

PC --> Tablet

D. Use tablet as an additional screen (TwoMon)


Control device

PC --> Wifi --> Tablet

E. Control your PC from your tablet (Chrome Remote Desktop)


A. Share your tablet screen in a Microsoft Teams call

Bascically Windows uses Miracast. It may be known under different names on your Android device, and isn't called Miracast on the PC. Yep, makes sense, doesn't it?

0. Your PC requires a Wifi interface. If you have a desktop PC, one of those little USB Wifi adapters will do. Switch it on.

1. If it was off, and the Connect App has disappeared, you may have to reboot your machine
  1. Insert or enable your Wifi device
  2. Reboot (as the Connect app may be invisible until a reboot)

2. Windows might have removed your Connect App with the latest upgrade / update. If so:
  1. Click on Settings > Apps > Optional features > Add a feature
  2. Then install the Wireless Display app.
  3. You may have to reboot

3. I find it easier to have some shortcuts on my desktop. I haven't found another shortcut to this app, so I use this approach to add a shortcut to the Windows 'Connect App':
  1. Windows key
  2. Enter 'Connect'
  3. Pin to start
  4. Drag the app from the start menu onto the desktop

4. If you want to project full screen, or use the PC keyboard, then you also need a link to 'Project'. Create a shortcut to:

%windir%\explorer.exe ms-settings-connectabledevices:devicediscovery


5. Switch on Wifi on both PC and tablet. You should have already done so on the PC in step 1 :-)

6. Start the Connect App on the PC.

7. On the tablet look for the 'Smart View' (Samsung) or 'Wireless Projection' (Huawei) or Miracast option in the system drop-down menu. On the image below a Samsung tablet is already connected, and then the button is relabeled to the name of the device connected / being projected to.


8. Now you have an additional window on your PC, showing the screen of your tablet.


9. All that's left is, from inside a Microsoft Teams setting, to share either the window or your whole desktop, start some drawing software on the tablet, and use it to sketch or show something on the tablet. If you have a tablet with a pen (like the Samsung Tab S7 Lite) this works like a charm.


Troubleshooting

Some VPN's, Virtual Machines, and firewall software may interfere with Miracast functionality. Also you need a Wifi adapter to make the above work. It doesn't work if your PC only has a Wifi connection through a router!

Sometimes you may have to modify the network interface metric to get this to work, especially after installing a VM such as VirtualBox. See for more information here.


Behavior differences between Miracast (projection) in Windowed and full-screen mode

Windows 10 is a bit inconsistent, and the documentation online is mostly referring to previous implementations. Be aware that the following behavior depends on your version of Windows, and is bound to change again! The following is based on Windows 10 version 2004.

1. If you 'automatically' connect to your PC, and the Connect App isn't open yet, then it will always start up full screen.

2. When you connect to your PC with the Connect App already full screen, your keyboard and mouse etc. will be redirected from your PC to your device. There should be an option to toggle that on / off according to many Internet sources, but there isn't on my machine. You also can only disconnect from your projecting device (really stupid, this).

4. When you connect to your PC with the Connect App windowed, you sometimes can control that device, and sometimes you can't. (It seems to depend on the device, the direction of the wind, and the positions of the stars.) But... you can always exit the session from the PC side.

5. You can switch between fullscreen and windowed in the Connect App, by toggling the arrow symbol on the dragbar, or (when already fullscreen) by moving the mouse-pointer to the top of the screen and hover there for a while. If a session is already in progress then you may be able to switch from Windows to fullscreen, but not always.


B. Share your tablet full screen

You can use your PC as an extra screen, and use the keyboard of your PC using the 'Project' option. 

1. Either use  a shortcut to 'Project' by creating a shortcut to:

%windir%\explorer.exe ms-settings-connectabledevices:devicediscovery


2. Or use the notifications button in the right bottom corner, then Connect / Projecting to this PC / Launch the Connect App to project to this PC


3. Or start with the Connect App, and switch that one to fullscreen before you connect / project to your PC.

See above for the caveats when projecting to a maximized Connect App!


C. Cast your PC screen to a smart TV (Chromecast)

If your TV has chromecast functionality, then you can 'cast' the desktop of your PC screen to the TV. Great for long, engless meetings where you would like to walk around a bit, and where your camara's off anyway 😉

1. Install and / or configure your chromecast, TV, etc. Note that devices such as the Nvidia Shield have chromecast functionality build in.

2. On your PC, start up Chrome. Choose Cast, then pick your source, then select the device you want to cast to. Done.

Get a beer, sit on your couch, and watch the drama unfold. Steering group meetings were never as entertaining before.


D. Use tablet as an additional screen (TwoMon Air)

One of the problems on this setup is that you need a working network connection on both devices, thus making it less suitable to use it outside your home network. It would be fantastic if this would work with bluethooth or some instant Wifi lan, but alas...

1. Install TwoMon Air on the tablet

2. Download and install TwoMon PC on your PC

3. You may have to tweak the network settings on your PC. There must be an active private network, otherwise this won't work.


E. Use tablet as an additional screen (TwoMon USB)

Supposed to be a little faster than using USB, but I found the difference to be marginal. However, it does allow pen input...

1. Install TwoMon USB on the tablet.

2. Activate 'developer' mode on the tablet. To do so, go to Settings / About / Software Information Build number.

3. Keep tapping the Build number until you are announced to be a developer.

4. Go to Settings / Developer options, and switch on USB debugging.

5. Download and install TwoMon PC on your PC

There's a newer version called TwoMon USB, Win10 only but supposed to be a little faster, and an even newer version with pressure support called Canvas Pro.

Here's a setup with two screens and a tablet as a third monitor. I've stretched a browser window over all three.




F. Control your PC from your tablet (Chrome Remote Desktop)

1. Of course, you could be using VNC or TeamViewer. This is just another way to access and control your desktop PC.

2. Install Google's Chrome Remote Desktop on your tablet

3. Install Google's Chrome Remote Desktop on your PC

4. Enter remotedesktop.google.com/access as the URL in Chrome

5. Remote Support / Share this screen

6. If necessary generate a code

7. On the Android tablet, connect to the PC using the (Chrome) Remote Desktop App

You may have to enter an authorization code, depending on your setup.













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