Luna Display update makes iPad a better MacBook second screen


Luna Display easily converts an iPad into a second screen for your MacBook Pro.
The Luna Display adapter is so small you can hardly see it.
Photo: Astro HQ

A new version of the software that drives Astro HQ’s Luna Display promises to noticeably improve the screen refresh rate and latency for this dongle that lets an Apple tablet function as an external screen for a Mac.

The improvements have also been brought to Astropad Stiudio, this company’s app that turns an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil into drawing tools for a Mac.

“The all new LIQUID Video Engine brings significantly reduced latency and a faster screen refresh rate. You’ll notice smoother display interactions, especially over USB and strong WiFi connections,” wrote AstroHQ in an official blog post.

Luna Display vs. cheaper rivals

The Luna Display hardware sells for $79.99.  Duet Display is a rival software-only option for turning an iPad into a second Mac screen, and it costs just $19.99. Or there’s Air Display 3 for $9.99. Obviously, Luna Display needs to be outstanding to compete.

According to Astro HQ, its “LIQUID is able to run at a consistent 60FPS on both Wifi and USB. Air Display and Duet Display, on the other hand, ran at slightly less than 60FPS on USB, and significantly less than 60FPS on Wifi.”

Latency is the delay between the main display  and a secondary screen. Luna Display wins this competition handily, as shown in the following chart:

Latency of Luna Display, Air Display and Duet Display. Shorter bars are better.
Latency of Luna Display’s LIQUID Video Engine versus Air Display and Duet Display. Shorter bars are better.
Photo: Astro HQ

More about Luna Display

Anything that can be displayed on a standard second screen can be shown on an iPad with Astro HQ’s product. In addition, the touchscreen is available and Apple Pencil is supported. External keyboards can even be used.

The Mac and iOS tablet have to be on the same speedy Wi-Fi network, and there’s an iOS app that needs to be running for the connection to happen. There are two versions of the hardware, one for newer Macs with USB-C while the other is for older models with a Mini DisplayPort.

Don’t miss the Cult of Mac Luna Display review. And we also have a hands-on guide to How to use your iPad Pro as a display for your Mac mini with this tiny accessory.