Portable navigation devices have been a godsend for drivers (you don’t get lost), but also a nuisance (you have to deal with an added blindspot). Now, a new head-up device from Garmin finally eliminates the LCD screen from the dashboard. Typically, systems that display speed and turn information reflected in the front windshield have only been available as built-in options in luxury sedans.
The Garmin HUD is the first add-it-yourself, head-up navigation device that can be plugged into any car. It works in conjunction with a smart phone – Android, iPhone, and or Windows Phone models running either the Navigon or StreetPilot navigation app (starting at $30).
What you see is a translucent display projected in the lower part of the windshield with blue turn arrows and information such as your current speed, estimated time of arrival, and distance to the next turn (spoken instructions are conveyed through the smart phone). We found it clearly legible, day or night, but if you choose to use the snap-on reflector lens (rather than the included transparent film that sticks onto the inside of the windscreen), it can take some finessing to position it properly to eliminate any errant reflections.
Compared to fixed, built-in head-up displays, the Garmin HUD offers one significant advantage: You can situate it to show up nearly anywhere in the lower part of the windshield, making it as unobtrusive as possible – and you still won’t get lost. [$150; garmin.com]