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Video: We Turned an iPad Pro Into a Mac Mini Display With the Luna Display Adapter

Last week, the team behind the Luna Display adapter that's designed to turn the iPad into a second display for any Mac published an article outlining how the adapter was used to morph a current iPad Pro into a display for Apple's newest Mac mini.

The Mac mini ships sans display, which means if you have an iPad, it can be used as the Mac mini's sole display. We thought the idea was interesting, so we decided to try it out in our latest YouTube video.

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The Luna Display is a little adapter that plugs into the USB-C port on your Mac (for older Macs, there's a Mini DisplayPort version). So to use the iPad Pro as a Mac mini display, you need to plug the adapter into the Mac mini and then download the appropriate software.

There's Luna software for both the iPad and the Mac, which you'll need to download to get this setup working. For setup, you're going to need a separate external display for the Mac mini so you can get the software installed, but once it's set up, the iPad Pro can be used as the only display.

Because the iPad and the adapter in the Mac mini work via WiFi, you'll need a strong connection for seamless performance and a zero lag experience.

Once the iPad Pro is set up as the Mac mini's display, it's a neat example of what it's like to use a touchscreen with a Mac machine. You can display full Mac apps on the iPad Pro, from Photoshop to Final Cut Pro.

What's neat is that you can control apps on your Mac mini through the iPad using the Luna Display app and then swipe out of it to access all of your standard apps. Switching between the two is flawless.

The iPad Pro is, of course, a super expensive display for the Mac mini so this is only useful if you happen to have both of these devices. Buying an iPad Pro just to use as a Mac mini display probably isn't a good idea since you can get a bigger display at a cheaper price.

You can also use the Luna Display with other Macs to turn the iPad into a secondary display. If you want your own Luna Display, it's available for $79.

What do you think of the iPad Pro as a touch display for Mac mini? Let us know in the comments.

Related Roundups: iPad Pro, Mac mini


Top Rated Comments

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3 weeks ago
How cost effective!

I think I want to buy a Ferrari to pull my Honda Civic. It will make it a supercar.
Rating: 32 Votes
3 weeks ago
never heard of luna display, but im curious, wondering if its more reliable than duet display being a quasi-hardware solution.
that said its embarrassing that Apple, the company that invented target display mode hasn't done this natively yet.
Rating: 20 Votes
3 weeks ago
MacOS on an iPad looks pretty gorgeous.
Now, Apple, give me a native experience with a trackpad and keyboard and I'm buying this iPad PRO.
Rating: 15 Votes
3 weeks ago
How is this different than the Duet iOS app?
Rating: 15 Votes
3 weeks ago
My theory as to what Luna Display is doing is emulating a display in order to get GPU acceleration working.
I've been doing this on my Mac mini server for several years now and you can really tell the difference in performance when using VNC or other screen sharing apps.

https://www.amazon.com/CompuLab-fit-Headless-Display-Emulator/dp/B00FLZXGJ6/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1542752841&sr=8-4&keywords=hdmi+display+emulator

I'm guessing the luna dongle is just a display emulator and their software specifically pipes that display output to their viewing server and to the client on the ipad. The fact that both the iPad and the Mac need to be on the same network is evidence that they are using some sort of remote display over IP. They say so much on their website that their protocol offers lower latency and that its less than half of what others are capable of. If so, kudos to them. It would be nice if you can just buy the software and use any display emulator or even a real display to get the same results. However they are probably making a good margin on the dongle and it is acting as a sort of a hardware license key. It probably has a specific EDID that the luna software looks for in order to function.

How is this different than the Duet iOS app?


I'm wondering the exact same thing.


[doublepost=1542752089][/doublepost]

This is from Luna's website. Points out some differences. Keeping in mind this is Luna's info not a independent party

https://lunadisplay.com/pages/luna-display-vs-duet-display


Looks the answer is here https://lunadisplay.com/pages/luna-display-vs-duet-display


Duet is meh... It's slow, not a hardware solution and has a fixed resolution meaning black bars on most iPads whereas Luna supports the full native resolution as the Mac thinks its a real display.


This is the same thing as vnc! Don't be tricked into paying for it.


Or how is this different to Splashtop or any VNC app?

Rating: 7 Votes
3 weeks ago
When i'm out of toilet paper....i use $100 fresh cut bills.
Rating: 7 Votes
3 weeks ago
all this so your display can cost as much as the Mac mini?
Rating: 6 Votes
3 weeks ago
Oh wow.. and this should be.. impressive? What a time to be alive.
Rating: 6 Votes
3 weeks ago

I see this as an awesome option to use the iPad as a secondary display for a MacBook, but that's about it.


No, it's a lot more than that, it turns your Mac into an artist pad. Not necessarily better than a Cintiq, but if you already own an iPad, it's relatively inexpensive.
Rating: 6 Votes
3 weeks ago

How is this different than the Duet iOS app?

It's just a competing solution. Luna Display is from the company that created AstroPad. It's more than screen mirroring, it turns your Mac into a drawing pad, like a Cintiq. It allows you to draw and paint from the couch. Since the iPad pencil doesn't have the concept of hover, you can simulate it with a three-finger touch gesture. While AstroPad only has screen mirroring, Luna Display allows you to have a second monitor with a drawing pad. AstroPad alone is limiting, because it can only mirror a small part of your full screen. Luna Display adds a new screen, which is, by definition, a full screen.

Apple should allow this natively, without having to go to third party yearly subscription and a specialized hardware dongle.
Rating: 5 Votes

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