Hudway Drive Heads Up Display: Our first take

It's $400 instead of $50, but Hudway's new dash display actually works

In recent years, there have been a growing number of products offering a modern head-up display (HUD) for your older vehicle. In response to the $500 Navdy, Hudway is set to release their new Hudway Drive HUD system this year for only $400 and we got an early look to see if this lower priced option is right for you.

Specs and build quality

Similar to the Navdy, the Hudway Drive is packed with the latest technology. The Hudway Drive system is powered through a standalone Android-based computer, with 8-core 64-bit ARM processor, 16 GB capacity and 2 GB memory.

Marketed as 20 times brighter than any smartphone, it has clarity level of any modern OEM auto manufacturer system

The hardware also has a Bluetooth 4.0 connection, GPS antenna, gyroscope, accelerometer, microphone for audio input, AUX output, FM transmitter, and front-facing IR camera to track driver fatigue and gestures. In addition to being controlled by gestures and vocal commands, the Hudway Drive includes a remote button control that attached to the steering wheel.

We had some concerns for the Hudway Drive after some initial build quality issues with the Hudway Glass we tested this year, but the new Drive is very solid in its plastic construction and feels like a premium product that should warrant the $400 price. The black body is rather simple but features a very slick front LED strip that pulses when talking. The unit is much larger in person than it looks in photos but was compact enough to fit on even a smaller dashboard with no problems. There is even a template of the 6 inch long and 4.5 inch tall unit to allow you to test if the device will work in your vehicle.

Packed with features

The Hudway Drive is powered through an included OBD-II cable and also uses the connection to receive data from your vehicle. This data is used to display various information like speed, engine rpm, fuel economy, and fuel levels on the display screen. Any concerns on daytime visibility from the Hudway Glass are gone with the built-in projected display. The display is marketed as 20 times brighter than any smartphone and it has the clarity level of any modern OEM auto manufacturer system.

Your phone connects to the Drive system via Bluetooth to allow you to answer calls and even listen to incoming text messages. The audio from the Hudway Drive system can be channeled through your car stereo via the AUX output on the side of the unit or through the built-in FM transmitter. You are also able to play and control most of your music applications through the Hudway Drive display.

The Hudway Drive is able to receive data either by connecting through your smartphone’s hotspot Wi-Fi connection or through an internal SIM card for its own 4G LTE connection. Ivan Klabukov, CEO and co-founder of HUDWAY, said that they will eventually partner with a cellular provider to offer customers an affordable data plan.

Navigation would be the primary use for data and the Hudway Drive system does offer the ability to download offline maps. Ivan let us know that the updated navigation system intelligently downloads only the areas along your route for offline navigation. This helps to avoid downloading large map files of entire cities or even States that are unnecessary on most trips.

Put to the test

In addition to a brief demo of the product, we took a short test drive with Ivan Klabukov to see how the Hudway Drive performs in real-life conditions. The team at Hudway developed the heads up display information to have a focal distance of 8.2 feet. This makes the information seem further out in front of the hood on your vehicle, positioned so that your eyes stay on the road.

In addition to being controlled by gestures and vocal commands, the Hudway Drive includes  button control attached to the steering wheel

This worked well in our drive and avoids some of the distractions we have seen in other systems that seem to be positioned right on the dashboard. The built-in navigation system seems like a refined version of the Hudway mobile app and is easy to read at a glance with this new display.

The steering wheel mounted controls are simple to use and contain five buttons that activate voice control, the menu, and inputs for back, left and right control. With these controls you can adjust the left, right, and center display to show the most relevant information to the driver. In our test drive we set the speedometer front and center, the navigation on the left, and the fuel economy on the right. This type of customization was a nice feature and is something you may not find in a modern OEM vehicle head-up displays.

We were unable to test the driver awareness features, but the front-facing camera should help track motions and keep a driver alert to the road. This driver awareness system will give a warning if it senses that the driver falling is asleep or being distracted and factor these instances into the overall driver score. This feature and the gesture controls are still in final testing and will likely require continued updates to help refine after launch.

Availability and price

The Hudway Drive unit will ship nearly identical to the model we were able to experience in July or August of 2017. The company is still refining some of the features that will be included in the Hudway OS but hope to avoid any delays. However, the team at Hudway did make it clear that they wouldn’t ship until they were confident in the final user experience. The current purchase price online is $100 cheaper than the Navdy at only $400. We think the Hudway Drive has all the right features on paper and hope it delivers in its final form.

Highs

  • Bright and clear display screen
  • Built in FM transmitter and AUX output
  • Vocal, gesture, and remote controls

Lows

  • Unit seems big when on dashboard
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