Hands-on with Astropad’s new MacBook dongle that turns your iPad into a powerful second screen

Astropad, the company behind many popular and incredibly powerful iOS apps, has unveiled an all-new hardware product. Called Luna Display, Astropad explains that this accessory is the “first and only hardware solution that turns any iPad into a true, wireless second screen display.” Read on for our hands-on review…

Setup and use of Luna Display is incredibly straightforward. Once you have the USB-C or Mini DisplayPort dongle plugged into your Mac, you simply download the Luna Display application for Mac and iOS, and you’ll be up and running within seconds.

Once you have the app open on both devices, the Mac client will immediately recognize your iPad and ask you if you’d like to connect. After that, the iPad will immediately be recognized as a second screen by macOS.

Astropad touts that Luna Display offers a “zero lag” experience with “stunning image quality.”

Key Features

  • Zero Lag: Harness the raw power of your graphics card for a virtually lag free experience.
  • Crystal Clear: Luna delivers stunning image quality without any glitching, artifacting or blurriness.
  • Works With Any Mac Over Wifi: Available for USB-C and Mini DisplayPort, Luna sets up in seconds and works with your existing WiFi.

I’ve been using an early prototype of the Luna Display hardware accessory alongside technical previews of the iOS and macOS applications, and I have to say it’s pretty impressive. I’ve tried competing second-screen iPad apps before, such as Duet Display, and always found them to be satisfactory, but nothing too amazing. Luna Display, however, is incredibly impressive.

For me personally, Luna Display is ideal when I’m out with just my MacBook Pro + iPad and need a bit more screen real estate. As a college student, this happens pretty regularly in libraries, Starbucks, and more, so having Luna Display is definitely useful for me.

One thing I found interesting was the hardware aspect. Astropad has launched second-screen drawing applications in the past that don’t require a hardware dongle, but Luna Display seems to be the company’s mass market approach at bringing its second-screen technology in a more reliable form factor.

Astropad explains that Luna Display’s hardware component is required to enable things such as graphics acceleration and GPU support:

We developed Luna because we knew there was a better solution than relying on software to turn an iPad into a second display. Software apps literally hack your graphics card. Delivering a glitchy and unreliable picture tricks your Mac into thinking a display is attached, when in fact they get no benefit of graphics acceleration or GPU support.

So unlike software apps, Luna harnesses the raw power of your graphics card, giving you the full benefits of graphics acceleration, delivering a stunning, second monitor, that’s 100% wire free.”

In terms of picture quality and scrolling, I’ve found Luna Display it be impressive. Granted I’m using an early prototype, so it’s hard to be too critical, but there have only been a few instances where I’ve noticed any lag or blurring. For instance, a quick-scrolling Tweetbot window sometimes brings out some lag.

Astropad is funding its Luna Display product with a Kickstarter, which is already over 500% funded as of this writing. You can find more information on that right here.

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