There is a product that can project my directions onto my window? Ok, that’s pretty cool, right? But there’s a catch; it’s going to cost you $149.99.
But did I mention you have to pay an extra $49.99 for the app, which brings the nifty little pricetag to around $199.98 for the Garmin HUD (Head Up Display). There is also another NAVIGON app, a brand of Garmin ($59.99) that you can purchase as well. Inside the box you get the HUD device, measuring in at 4.25-in wide by 3.46-in high by .73 deep, vehicle power supply for the HUD with a USB port for charging your phone, reflector lens, windshield film, and manual. The Garmin HUD is a little pricey, but it’s a pretty cool gadget for projecting directions from your phone through the Garmin StreetPilot Onboard app I chose. And when you couple the fact it helps avoid driver distraction, maybe the price isn’t the worse thing after all.
Okay, I know most of you are still reeling over the sticker shock. I was too, even when I had to call the editorial director and request approval for the additional $50 bucks for the software to actually test the HUD accordingly. But I will admit, once I was past the initial sticker shock of the device, I found myself in a pretty happy place.
After unboxing the HUD, set up was pretty easy. You could either put the reflector lens on the HUD itself, giving it a little screen so it’s not actually projecting onto the windshield but instead a little clear plastic piece, or you could use the windshield film that reflects the LED light back at you. I chose to use the lens so I could use the HUD in vehicles other than my own. Plus, you only get one, leaving no room for mistake when applying. After I plugged it into the power outlet, the screen guided me, so I turned on my Bluetooth from my phone and paired it to the device.
Now comes the app. I chose to download the $49.99 Garmin StreetPilot Onboard app. After it downloaded, there was still more information to gather including all the map data and other required files needed to start the app, not small files either. Now, they did give you options to download partial maps of sections of the United States, but I elected to go big or go home, so I downloaded all of it. I thought to myself, “I don’t know where my life may take me. One day, maybe, I will need a map of Alaska.” With more than a gigabyte of data needing to be downloaded, it was a good thing I was in no rush.
After all is said and done, I was finally ready to use the app. I was feeling a little hungry, so I decided to search a route to my local Burger King. I typed the destination into the search bar, and it listed a few in my area. I picked the closest one and started my route.
On the way to go get my BK whopper, the Garmin HUD looked bright and very visible even during the day, which was very nice. It has an ambient light sensor to automatically set itself to an appropriate brightness level.
The Garmin HUD displays your estimated time of arrival, current speed and speed limit, distance until next turn, and, my personal favorite, which lane you wanted to be in for the exit or entrance onto a highway
Now, I like to listen to music when I drive and when I use my GPS on my phone, I plug it into my stereo, so I can hear the spoken directions loud and clear. Unfortunately, the transition between the Garmin app speaking to you and the music playing is a very choppy and unpleasant transition, unlike the iOS navigation. It can be quite annoying when your favorite song is playing.
All-in-all, the Garmin HUD is designed to keep the driver focused on the road ahead without looking at the phone to see where they are going. The safety aspects of this connected product are great, and I personally never had to look down at my phone because all the information I needed was projected right there for me while I could still look at the road ahead. I just wish safety didn’t have to be so expensive.