Hudly Car Head-Up Display – Review
When I first heard about the Hudly Head-Up Display, I had visions of seeing my maps and driving information right there on my windshield. You know, feeling like I’m in Top Gun or something.
Concept wise, I think it’s a great idea. Driver distractions are a huge issue these days and anything that helps you focus on the road ahead of you is a good thing. But the implementation of the Hudly Car Head-Up Display is clunky and has some inherent problems that need to be solved before this can be proper solution to the problem.
So to start, the Hudly has two things I thought were outstanding: the screen itself and the mounting “pad.”
The screen is a great size and offers a very crisp, clear display which works at night and during the day. The mounting pad doesn’t use any kind of adhesive but somehow gives the Hudly a good sturdy base that didn’t wobble or move while I was driving. I’m not sure how it works but I hope others pick up on that technology.
You connect to the Hudly using your phone’s Wi-Fi connection which is the first problem I want to talk about. If you’re like me then you connect to your home and possibly work Wi-Fi automatically. But when I go to my my car and want to connect to the Hudly, I need to go into my settings and change the network I connect to. That’s because I am still in range of my home network so it’s still active. It also was a problem when I stopped for coffee. My local coffee shop has Wi-Fi so my phone connected to it when I went in, then I had to manually change the connection when I got back to my car again. Now I could wait until I drive far enough away that the Wi-Fi connection so it’s lost and my phone will auto-connect to the Hudly again, but I need to go into my phone settings and re-enable the screen mirroring. Which is something you should not do while driving.
The reason I think they went with Wi-Fi is because it’s required in order to use the screen mirroring feature on phones. The Hudly is essentially an external display. But this brings me to the next problem I had with the product. Screen mirroring also sends all audio to the Hudly. So I could not play my music from my phone over my car’s Bluetooth connection. The Hudly web site had some customer advice on how to make that work but it is a lot of work and contortions for something that I would expect to do nothing more than turn on my device. And while the Hudly does have speakers, they’re no substitute for your car’s audio system. Hudly also references an app on iTunes that can redirect audio from my iPhone but it is no longer available. I have heard that this isn’t an issue with Android phones but I was not able to test to see if that’s true or not.
The manufacturer also missed the mark by not providing a way to power the Hudly using USB… or providing any kind of USB connection at all. I initially wanted to set up and play with the Hudly in my house but found that it only worked off of DC power from your car charger/cigarette lighter. Ultimately I bought a DC power cable for the house and was able to do some testin
g inside. Maybe the 5v that USB can provide isn’t enough to power the screen, but with more cars switching to providing direct USB power, it won’t be long until the Hudly will not work with newer cars.
I liked the idea behind the Hudly, but what I don’t want is something that just screen mirrors my phone. I’d hoped for a device I could set up once and then just work after that. The Hudly is a very well built piece of equipment but it definitely misses the mark with what it delivers.