The Luna Display is an interesting little device which connects to your Mac and allows you to use an iPad as a second monitor.
From the outside, it seems hard to believe that this diminutive little device can deliver on its promise of shifting millions of pixels wirelessly, so read on to see how we got on during our review.
Much like the device itself, the box is pretty compact. There isn’t really a whole lot to hold so once you’ve peeled off the plastic, cracked the box open and set aside the equally small start guide, you are presented with the Luna Display.
There’s a couple of steps to follow here but it’s pretty straightforward.
– First off you visit the Luna Display website and download the app for your Mac.
– Next, you install the app on your iPad
– Find a spare USB C port on your Mac for the device and plug it in
– After that, there are some accessibility permissions to be given on your Mac to allow the Luna Display to control the screen
– There’s also a firmware check for the device itself and then you are all set unless you want to install an additional driver that will allow you to enable Retina-quality screen sharing.
While the installation didn’t prompt us to do so, we rebooted our system after the driver install as we found the app was lagging a little. After the reboot, we connected our MacBook Pro and iPad Pro again and the second screen fun could begin.
While we were testing the Luna Display we used the 5GHz band on an Asus RT-AX88U router which was more than capable of providing the bandwidth necessary to allow the two devices to connect properly.
It’s worth noting that you can also connect the devices via USB C cable if you are somewhere that the network conditions aren’t preferable such a hotel room for example.
What’s it like to use?
Once you have both devices connected, the app on your Mac gives you some options for what side you have the iPad on and if you want to use the Retina mode or not.
It took me a little while to find a location for the iPad that felt natural. If you plan to use this all the time then investing in a tablet stand will be a must as the keyboard cover for the iPad I was using at the start prevented me from positioning the screen where I wanted it.
When you are set up, using it is like using any second screen. You can drag a window over onto the iPad, open an app from the iPad screen or you can launch Exposé on your Mac and control the screens from there.
It really is a seamless affair and after a short time using it things became very natural.
One thing that I found a little frustrating was that when you moved the mouse to the second screen on the iPad you need to click the window you want to interact with to bring it to the foreground. It might seem menial but if you consider the workflow I have when producing articles, it can involve copy and pasting a lot of material from press releases in Word docs and emails into our CMS. So with the CMS open on the Mac and a Word doc open on the second screen on the iPad, as I move across onto the second screen and click and drag on the text I find nothing happens and I then have to click the doc first and then click and drag again to select the text. Then when you return to the screen on your Mac you have to click that window to become active. It’s a lot of extra clicks when you are going back and forth.
As I mentioned above, you have the choice to enable the Retina mode to increase the visual quality of the second display.
Initially, we experienced some issues here when connecting wirelessly with the Retina mode enabled. After a short while the connection would either drop out or the screens would start flashing. We connected the devices using a cable and everything worked fine and we were confident it wasn’t our network so we reached out to Luna Display support for help troubleshooting.
We got a very detailed email back from their support team suggesting we try a number of different options, and laying out a plan if those options didn’t work.
We were supplied with a link to an upcoming version of the Mac app which had fixes in place and once we installed that, all of our issues went away.
Those issues aside, the Luna Display just works. Latency is extremely low and the quality is excellent with the Retina mode on.
All of you peripherals will now work in both directions such as the Apple pencil or external mice and keyboards. You can also use two fingers to scroll on the iPad and you can use a touch and hold to select text similar to a click and drag with a mouse. Be prepared to start touching your Mac’s screen wondering why it’s not working though!
There are numerous workflows where the Luna Display really adds benefit. For me, it adds a second screen that allows me to continue to create articles in one window while accessing files or doing research on another. It is also excellent when editing videos as you can use the iPad to play clips while keeping your timeline uncluttered on the Mac. If you have ever wished one of the desktop apps you use would work on your iPad – now it can.
Wirelessly streaming content is a difficult task. I could think of nothing worse to be involved with on a hardware or software level, to be honest, as so many factors can affect it, so it’s commendable that Luna Display has delivered something that performs so well.
If you own a MacBook and an iPad, or even if you have a Mac Mini and want to use an iPad as a remote display, this is an absolute must-have accessory.
It is available from the Luna Display website now for $79.99.
Disclaimer: The device was supplied to us at no charge for the purpose of a review. As with all our reviews, the manufacturer has no editorial input into the article.