Attractive heads-up display with promising features but limited iOS functionality.
A few years ago, at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, I had the experience of learning about the HUDWAY CAST. It seems like forever ago that we were able to mingle en masse and to enjoy the company of people, but the experience was amazing. With so many states requiring hands-free calling, I was excited about the ability to use turn-by-turn navigation and to see the information without having to move my head. Similar to a heads-up display on a video game, the HUDWAY CAST promised to enhance my driving experience.
The HUDWAY CAST arrived in a 7 1/2 inches square by 3 3/4 inches tall black package. The cover provided a somewhat subdued black ink outline of the HUDWAYCAST device and the back provided a small paragraph detailing the features of the device. The company described it as a “driving device that streams the smartphone screen information into the driver’s line of sight. This way, it allows drivers to keep their eyes on the road while staying connected.” Despite the QR code tape holding the lid closed, all of the other sides were left blank. Within the box, you will find several foam cutouts housing the device. The main body of the HUDWAYCAST cast measured 4 inches wide by 6 inches long and 1 1/2 inches tall (projector). Along the back of the device, you will find a 1-inch wide hinge connected to a 3 1/4 inches tall by 7 inches wide curved mirror protected with microfiber lens cover. Additionally, you will find the power input port and phone input ports. On the bottom of the device, you will find a 1 1/2 inch diameter locking ring, which was designed to accommodate the included attachment options. On the top of the HUDWAYCAST, you will find a large QR code sticker (links to the APP) and three 3/8 inches by 3/8 inches buttons for power and volume up/down. When opened, the glass will be furthest away from you and will have a concave shape. Regarding power supply, you will find an 8 7/8 inches long USB-A female to micro-USB male cable, and a DC12V/4.8A dual output car adaptor plug with dual USB-A charging ports and 84 inches long power cable.
To attach the device to your vehicle, the company included a four-leafed-clover shaped mount with 3M tape. The front legs measured 5 inches wide by 2 1/ inches tall and tapered to a 2 5/8 inches middle body section. The back limbs measured 5 3/4 inches wide by 2 7/8 inches tall. In total, the device was 5 3/8 inches tall by 5 7/8 inches wide. On the top of the mount, you will find “FRONT” with an arrow depicting the correct placement toward the windshield. Along the middle of the surface, you will find a 1 3/8 inches wide by 2 inches tall slightly raised slide and a 1 1/2 inches diameter twist lock. Align the twist lock of the base with the port on the HUDWAYCAST and then twist the device into place. Once you have cleaned your dash, remove the 3M sticker and affix it to the surface making sure the angle is optimized for utility. Lastly, within the box, you will find a HUDWAYCAST magnetic phone mount and metallic phone plate. Personally, I preferred a vent mount from VENTEV rather than another sticky dash bound device.
With the dash mount firmly affixed, the HUDWAY CAST attached to the mount, I plugged in the power cable and ran it down the contour of my dash to the car lighter area. I plugged the phone adaptor into the port and then an old USB-A to lightning cable into the USB-A input port. To download the App, you can scan the QR code within the manual or atop the device, or you can navigate to the iOS or Google Play store. Since I have an iPhone 11 Pro Max and no android phone, I reviewed the device using my iPhone. I downloaded the 2.7* App from the iOS App Store and navigated through the introductory panels. The first panel noted that you could use your phone, hands-free, attached to the vent, or attached to the dash. However, they designed their product to work more optimally for hands-free driving. The second panel described the dashboard and widgets, which could quickly access frequent actions, or swipe to view widgets/share locations. The third panel, “NAVIGATION,” discussed that the device would provide Simple turn-by-turn navigational instructions. The fourth panel, “MUSIC,” noted that you could connect to your available streaming services like Spotify or music library for easier hands-free operation. The fifth panel, “CALLS,” noted that you could add a list of favorite numbers to call quickly. The sixth panel, “PERMISSIONS,” discussed the need for permissions to allow the device to work.
When I plugged my phone into the HUDWAYCAST device, it said “Waiting for iOS device Access.” When I navigated to settings on the App, I saw an error message “No Compatible devices found. External HUD mode only works with HUDWAY CAST Cast device.” When I tapped the green “Learn More” button, the App navigated me to a new device called the HUDWAY Drive and showed an announcement “SOLD OUT HUDWAY CAST is all sold out and will not be available any longer.” Furthermore, the panel stated that they “loved it but it was time for something newer and more powerful.” Selecting the option “Ok, got it!” took me to the panel which detailed the newer device. I turned to the HUDWAY Help Center to find a method to make the device work with my iPhone. I navigated to WiFi, chose HUDWAY-C15015 from the list. Connecting wirelessly did not work either. The only workaround that I found was to swipe down from the top right and to select screen mirroring from the options. While plugged in, the screen displayed the iPhone screen. If the phone was in vertical mode, it would display vertically. If you rotate your phone into landscape then the image would rotate on screen as well. I tried using this system while driving and found that it did not work any better than a hands-free vent mount. While connected, I received a phone call and the navigation went away. I was displeased with the device, with the App integration, and now with the fact that they appear to have moved on to a new device completely. I hope to test the HUDWAY Drive device and to truly evaluate a functional heads-up display. Unfortunately, for now, this device provided no utility for me. While working on this review, I found that the company is accepting trade-in HUDWAY cast devices for a 40% discount on their newer device, which will be available for preorder in Q2 2020. If they can fix the issues with the HUDWAY Cast with the HUDWAY Drive and improved iOS functionality, the HUDWAY Drive may be the go-to option.