Heads-up displays (HUDs) have been around for decades, but they've generally been either the province of the terribly specialised, notably military displays, or the terribly high-end luxury vehicle market. That's a pity because there's little doubt that keeping your eyes on the road is something that everyone should be doing as much of the time as possible. It's simple safety.
It's that simple safety market that Garmin pitches its HUD product to. It's a simple black box with a reflective projector built into it, sending an image up at roughly 45 degrees to your windscreen. The idea behind the HUD is that it's meant to tie into a smartphone GPS so that you don't have to screen mount your phone, but also so you're not staring at it rather than the road. The HUD itself has no brains at all, so it doesn't handle GPS work or even spoken directions itself.
The HUD does this by displaying the next turn direction, distance, current speed and estimated time of arrival on an overlay over your field of vision. It has two methods for doing this. Firstly, in the box is a small transparent but reflective sticker that you affix to your windscreen for permanent usage, or if that isn't to your taste, you can use the reflective screen that clips on to the HUD device itself. Power comes via a standard car cigarette lighter adaptor, but with an eye to the fact that you'll be using your smartphone as well, the adaptor has a 5v USB socket built into it.
Unlike a traditional GPS suction cup arrangement, the HUD is designed to sit on your dashboard. In order to make it fit any dashboard, the base is highly flexible so you can shape it to the contours of your dash. It's also sticky, and thankfully washable to renew its adhesion, to keep it nicely in place even if you're making a modest speed turn or hit a pothole.
Installing the HUD is an interesting experience because it's not quite like your regular screen-mounted GPS offering. Instead, what you've got to do is pick your projection method. If it's the clip-on screen, that best works when as flush up against your windscreen as possible, but if it's the reflective see-through sticker you prefer — and it does offer a wider field of vision and the possibility of a larger display by placing the HUD device a little further back on your dashboard — then you've got a bit of work to do.
Clean your windscreen with a lint-free cloth. Then wet it or the sticker will be ruined.
Then gently place the sticker in the spot you’d like the HUD to go or the sticker will be ruined.
Then use the cardboard sleeve it came in to smooth out any bubbles or grit or the sticker will be ruined.
Then gently remove the front cover of the sticker and line up the HUD. It's impossible to do this while the car is in motion, which means the HUD should be off. You then have to work out the angle between the HUD and sticker. If you get it wrong for the way you sit in the car, you'll have to quickly shift the sticker — and it'll almost certainly be ruined.
No prizes for guessing what happened to our review sticker.
Ruined isn't entirely accurate because it retains reflectivity, but the issue is that the reflection warps very easily, making it hard to read and distracting rather than informative.