The concept of a head-up display (or HUD) originated in fighter planes during WWII and has slowly made its way into the modern automobile. Thankfully, you don’t even need to jump into newer cars like the Corvette Z06 or Volvo S90 to get the latest in HUD technology for your car. All you need is your smartphone, a group of HUD mobile applications, and an aftermarket heads-up mount from Hudway. We mounted the Hudway Glass and set off to see if this system would help keep our eyes on the road or be just another distraction behind the wheel.
Initial setup and impressions
The Hudway Glass system is $50 and includes a cloth carrying bag, skid-proof phone mount with flip-up plastic HUD screen, and industrial strength mount adhesive. Early versions came with an adjustable magnetic mount that would come apart almost instantly. Our magnetic ring came unglued after the first couple hours sitting on the dashboard in the hot sun. This was easily fixed with additional glue, but not what you want to deal with for a $50 mounting system. However, the latest model ditches the magnets for a flexible base that attaches via a snap-on slotted mounting point. Upon further testing with this new system, we had no issues connecting and removing the mount and it held tightly in place.
Depending on your vehicle and the height of your dash, you will use either the flat compact mount or the taller adjustable mount. In our test vehicle, a 2005 Honda Element, the adjustable mount was better suited to placing the HUD display in our line of sight. Both mounts connect to the Hudway phone mount and HUD screen via a magnet to hold it securely while driving. The Hudway system is designed to work with any phone, but the company suggests that your phone-plus-case combo is no heavier than 12 oz; the phone length and width should be around 6.2 × 3.1 inches. We tested with an iPhone 6 (5.4 × 2.6) and massive Nexus 6 (6.2 × 3.2) that both weighed in under 7 oz without any stability or visibility issues..
Even at the brightest setting we struggled to make out data on the screen.
The system is easy to use, as you simply set the phone in the mount and enable HUD mode in any of Hudway’s mobile applications. In daylight, the visibility of the HUD can be an issue, unfortunately, and even with the brightest setting on both phones, we struggled to make out data on the screen. The most recent update of the Hudway Glass adds a new, almost purple, tint to the plastic display also helps with daytime viewing although making out details is still a struggle in the sunlight. We could still see larger directional arrows, but we missed smaller text and icons. Hudway mentions in many of its applications that the device display may be best instead of the HUD mode during bright sunlight. Visibility at night is perfect and looks identical to many of the most popular systems we have seen in modern vehicles equipped with this feature from the factory. The degree of clarity and usefulness of the system depended greatly on the individual mobile applications included with the system.
The primary Hudway app resembles popular navigation applications like Waze or Google Maps. The main difference is the head-up display arrow and information to guide you to your destination. A large green arrow shows you which direction to turn and the app lists the distance to your next turn. Once approaching a major turn, you will get a dashed green arrow and an audible voice alerting you. The voice wasn’t as refined as many popular apps and would give distance and degree of the turn such as “1,000 feet, right 90 degrees.” The app also included a driver points system to keep track of your drive, which may be helpful for those that want to keep track of their driving habits.
HUD Widgets is the most expansive and eye-catching application of the three and lends variety to your HUD. The application features six different head-up driving gauges in styles ranging from a modern digital display to an older “Cadillac” style gauge. There are six “Trip Info” widgets which can display everything from miles per gallon, trip cost, compass, and even your acceleration or eco-driving score. One of the more interesting widgets is named “Land Meter” and acts as a clinometer (which measures slope angle — think “incline”) for off-road enthusiasts that want to know the pitch and roll of their vehicle.
The magnetic ring came unglued after a couple hours in the hot sun.
Speedometer by Hudway is a fairly basic concept that operates well to show your current speed and give indication when you are approaching the speed limit. With the premium version included in the Hudway Glass, the system lists the speed limit for any road you are on and shows a circle filling until you reach the limit. You can also turn on an audible cue that lets you know when you’ve reached that limit. The app gives an at-a-glance indicator of your speed in regards to posted limits and helps you avoid a potential ticket.
All three apps are available for free but require a premium fee to unlock hidden features. However, a promo code to unlock all features is included with the Hudway Glass mounting system.Our Take
The Hudway system’s strength is the applications, and they may be worth a look regardless of whether you buy the mount or simply place your phone on your dash and use the windshield as a display. But the quality of the display screen in the Hudway Glass system is poor and needs improvement.
Is there a better alternative?
There are countless budget alternatives in the market that offer a similar phone mount and display screen with similar quality to the Hudway Glass. Many are simply reflector screens similar to Hudway — and likely to suffer similar problems. We suggest you save your money. More expensive systems that do not use your phone as a display are also coming to market, and the market holds great potential. We like the $150 Garmin Head-up Display for example, despite its limitations — it works only with StreetPilot for iPhones or Navigon for Android devices, and Google Maps is not compatible. On the high end there’s the Navdy, of course. If you’ve got $500 to burn, it’s chock full of features and potential.
How long will it last?
Updates should keep the group of mobile applications useful and relevant but the construction of the Hudway Glass mount simply isn’t quality enough to last for a long period of use. Don’t count on Hudway going the distance.
Should you buy it?
No. Even with improvements to the mounting system, there are better alternatives in the market. We say simply save your money for the local tourist trap when you get to your destination.