The Astropad Luna Display is a nifty product that lets you use your iPad as a second screen. It was initially released for Mac only, but Apple released a competing product, putting the company at risk for a few years. Today, it is also available for Windows machines, thus completing the Astropad pivot into a cross-platform product.
To say that the company struggled to bring its products to market would be the understatement of the century. We follow the company and its product in its long and arduous journey. The company initially launched its product about five years ago, then added a wireless module in 2018 to get rid of pesky wires. Her rapid rise to stardom was torpedoed when Apple launched Sidecar in 2019, making Luna’s product questionable and putting the company in crisis mode.
To its credit, the company and its founders have been able to remain transparent with its offering throughout. Once Apple beat it at its own game, the founders kept the lights on and announced a year ago that they were turning to a Windows product instead, fueling its product development with a Kickstarter project. of $ 400,000.
As part of the Kickstarter project, Astropad initially promised a May 2021 launch, but as things evolve in the world of product development, the company and its 6,000 Kickstarter backers have suffered a number of delays. along the way. It’s been a long time coming, but this Windows product is finally here, with version 5.0 of Luna Display. On paper, at least, the product looks promising; The Luna dongle plugs in and communicates with Mac or Windows operating systems, unlocking gesture support by iPad, Apple Pencil and the use of external keyboards. The company claims a latency of just 16ms. Not as good as the 9ms latency Apple claimed for its Sidecar product, but it’s fast enough for most use cases that don’t require real-time input. Don’t expect to do heavy design work or play on the screen, in other words, but viewing a Chrome tab or Word document will work just fine.
The company says its customers are clamoring for support for Windows, with a total of 8,000 pre-orders. There is no doubt that its patients and loyal followers will be delighted to finally be able to put their gloves on the product they were waiting for.
The solution supports a few different modes of operation: you can use an iPad as a secondary display, you can use another Mac (including older equipment) as a secondary display, or you can run the product in “headless mode”. In this setup, you can use your Mac or PC as the primary display for your desktop Mac, like a Mac Mini or Mac Pro.
To build the software stack powering the solution, Astropad relied on the Rust programming language. For fans of such things, company CEO Matt Ronge took an interesting dive into the pros and cons of using relatively new language to create a low latency solution.
“With Rust, we’ll have a high-performance, portable platform that we can easily run on Mac, iOS, Linux, Android, and Windows,” says Ronge. “Not only will this significantly increase the size of our potential market, but we will also see many exciting new uses for our LIQUID technology that we can pursue with our Rust-based platform. “
Luna Display costs $ 129 and is available direct from Astropad starting today, for Mac and Windows, using USB-C, Mini DisplayPort, or HDMI connectivity.