A few years back, Jai and I were on vacation in England, and we were looking for souvenirs to take back home. Jai was having a hard time finding anything that his father would like, and my dad said, “Yeah, dads are hard to shop for!”. If even dads don’t know what to get for other dads, what hope do the rest of us have for finding the right gift?! 😉 Luckily, I am here to help with a gift that is guy-tested: The new Garmin HUD+.
The HUD+ – Head-Up Display – is a new innovation from Garmin that utilizes your smartphone’s built-in GPS to more closely replicate a standalone GPS setup. When I heard about this product, I immediately knew it was something that would be put to use in our car. You see, a few years ago I bought a GPS system during a Black Friday sale; it was great while it lasted, but sadly, it ended up getting stolen. In more recent times, we’ve simply used our respective iPhones to navigate while driving. This works pretty well, but is not without its drawbacks; since we are very strongly against texting while driving, we’ll either prop the phone in the dash or have the passenger hold it up for the driver. Since phones have such a small screen, this can make it hard for the driver to see the map. Not to mention, if you hit a dead spot in cell phone coverage, you are out of luck for navigating any further!
Garmin’s HUD+ aims to address some of these issues. There are two parts to this system: The first is a free Garmin HUD navigation app that you download to your bluetooth-enabled phone; the second is a small box with a screen which affixes to your dashboard. The device projects data wirelessly from the app onto its removable screen or on the windshield, if you prefer. Personally, we prefer projecting onto the small screen, as we find it more readable than reflecting off the windshield; however, it’s nice to have the option, especially since visibility will change depending on the time of day.
Here’s what the readout looks like when pointed on the windshield – I’ve circled it in the photo, since it’s harder to see when shrunk down into a small image:
This is how it looks when projected onto the removable plastic screen:
The readout includes arrows directing you as to where to turn, how many feet until the turn, how long until you reach your destination, the speed limit, and your actual speed. This is accompanied by a voice that reads out the directions. The window display is very simple, but that’s a good thing, since it’s not cluttered and gives you the necessary details as you need them. And when you need more detailed information, all you have to do is glance down at your phone, as the accompanying app has a full, detailed map navigation in real-time. One neat detail that we noticed is that the app will display Google Earth street view images when it finds them – that’s certainly a helpful feature, since we all know different street layouts can look in real life as opposed to a map.
One way that the Garmin HUD navigation app differs from other GPS navigation apps is that it requires you to download the full series of maps before heading to your location. The downside is that this takes up space on your phone; the upside is that your maps will continue to work if you are outside a cell coverage area – that is my #1 problem with using smartphones as our sole GPS, and I definitely think it’s an awesome feature, since we’ve taken screenshots of maps in the past to be safe just in case we lost the connection while driving!
The app lets you either navigate directly to the address in question, or pull up suggested destinations based on category; for example, if I hit “Points of Interest-Shopping-Grocery”, it pull up a list of all the stores in my town. The app also has some fun features, like Foursquare integration – I’ll definitely make use of that during our travels!
As for the functionality of the GPS itself, we haven’t had to drive any long distances this last week – it’s a miracle! – so we’ve only given it test runs in our hometown, which is very small and easy to get around. We did notice the navigation pointing us the wrong way once, which happens with all GPS apps; I’ve had much worse happen, like the time that a different GPS advised us to make a u-turn in the middle of the freeway. 😉 It also seems to be a little slow to update if you miss a turn or choose a different street than what it suggests. We think both of these things are due to the GPS in the phone itself, rather than the app; it’s doing the best it can working with the data it’s receiving from the phone.
In all, I think the Garmin HUD+ will be a big improvement on our previous smartphone setup and save us some real hair-pulling and hassle the next time we have to navigate through the labyrinths of Portland. I’m also looking forward to using some of the other features in the HUD+, such as traffic delay info and lane change advisories – things we haven’t really been able to test just driving around the corner to the grocery store. 😉
So how do I know that this would make the perfect Father’s Day gift? Because coincidentally, the Garmin HUD+ happened to arrive on Jai’s birthday, and he was so happy about it! If the dad on your list loves gadgets and/or drives a lot, then this is a great gift for him!
Garmin HUD+ is compatible with iPhone 3GS or later, iPad 2 and up, Windows 8 Phone, and some Android devices; it retails for $179.99. Get yours today at Garmin.com!