Just over a year ago, SolidSmack reported that Astropad creators Astro HQ had successfully funded their latest project — Luna Display — on Kickstarter, having raised over $645,000 to bring the project to life. The (minimal) hardware and accompanying app claimed to seamlessly turn any iPad into a second display.
Well, now it’s here; we tried it, and it’s freakin’ awesome.
The magic behind the platform comes from its ability to source power directly from an existing graphics card—as opposed to “hacking” it to power a simulated display like similar apps on the market. Frankly, if you’re used to working on two displays, then you know the drill. But as a surprisingly easy-to-set-up experience for designers and productivity ninjas on-the-go, having the ability to essentially pack your two-monitor setup into the back sleeve of a backpack feels unnatural (in a good way) and surprisingly powerful.
For our test, we used an iPad Pro as the second display to a MacBook Air. The setup experience took less than 3 minutes and involved downloading (free) apps to each hardware device—with the tiny pink Chiclet-sized dongle (available in USB-C or Mini Displayport) connecting to the MacBook Air—and connecting both over WiFi. From there, dragging a processor-heavy Photoshop CC window back and forth between the screens was comparable (both in latency and picture quality) to dragging the same window between the two Cinema Displays behind it. Except, with Luna Display, I could actually fit the two-monitor workflow setup inside of a backpack and still have room for some IPAs and a sandwich.
“We developed Luna because we knew there was a better solution than relying on software to turn an iPad into a second display,” explain Astro HQ founders Matt Ronge & Giovanni Donelli, who previously worked as engineers at Apple.
“Software apps literally hack your graphics card, delivering a glitchy and unreliable picture. Software tricks your Mac into thinking a display is attached, when in fact they get no benefit of graphics acceleration or Metal GPU support. It’s like buying a car and only using half the engine. So unlike software apps, Luna harnesses the raw power of your graphics card, giving you the full benefit of its graphics acceleration — delivering a stunning second monitor that’s 100% wire free.”
Today Luna is available to the public for $79.99. Each purchase includes the Luna hardware unit (USB-C or Mini DisplayPort) along with access to the free Luna Display Mac and iPad apps. And for those wondering; yes, Luna fully integrates with Astropad, the company’s drawing software that turns the iPad into a graphics tablet for Mac.