A8 (Automobile) Heads Up Display – My first impression with the HUD inspired curiosity, but continued use changed that curiosity into confusion. This unit is a neat idea marred by some really loose execution.
At first, all seems well. The device box displays an idealized image of a transparent multi-colored display reflecting right off of a car windshield. Since the display is higher up toward the driver’s normal field of vision, this device might seem like one that would provide utility in any type of driving condition. After all, this is the year 2016 and digital automobile displays have been around for a long time. With a HUD like this, everyone should appreciate a splash of color and a fresh take on the common car dashboard.
Unfortunately, positive first impressions fade within the first fifteen seconds or so once the user notices a marked lack of branding anywhere on the box. The only clue to any type of manufacturer identity is a barcode that might indicate a serial or model number. The manual saves the day by naming the device as an “A8 HUD”, but consumer confidence is hard to win back if a manufacturer flubs a first impression.
Other than an optimistic front cover, this device packaging is nearly as basic as cardboard allows. Upon opening the box, the HUD unit itself is a small rectangle that is roughly the size of some of the larger smartphones. The side of the unit has a mini USB port, power switch, and a small rocker-switch for controlling the device. This unit is a little thicker than most smartphones but is extremely light and hollow-feeling. Since the device is nothing more than a small circuit board wired up to a collection of LEDs, this lack of weight can be somewhat forgiven. Additional weight may have helped the device in the long run, however, since the silicone mat provided with the HUD is not enough to keep the device from scooting around the dashboard ever so slightly.
The initial setup of the unit is the best part of using the HUD. A user only has to use a single cable to connect the HUD to the car, turn on the power switch, and turn on the car. The OBD2-compatible cable included in the box should allow the HUD to connect directly to the On-Board Diagnostics port of most modern vehicles. The HUD draws power from this port, but does shut itself off after a minute or two of the car engine turning off.
While installing the unit is easy, actually using the HUD is an exercise in compromise. Once the HUD powers on, the display may be nice and bright (even during the day) but the image will likely look blurry. Since most car windshields consist of more than one layer of glass, the HUD image will reflect incorrectly and cause a “double-vision” image to appear. To remedy this, the HUD ships with a piece of lenticular plastic that can be adhered to a windshield corner. This new surface serves to dull the appearance of this blurring effect, but the plastic sheet included is too small. Attempting to adjust the HUD to “fit” inside the special reflective surface is a frustrating experience, depending on the angle of the vehicle windshield. Even when the device is perfectly positioned, the difficulties encountered during such steps take away from the nice transparent effect that was originally intended by the HUD.
While the HUD is active, a large collection of data can be displayed such as fuel consumption, average fuel efficiency, speedometer (mph or kmh), tachometer (RPM), temperatures for coolant and oil, and several other readouts. Certain readouts can also be set to emit an alarm once a threshold has been exceeded such as trip time (to fight against driver fatigue) or current speed (to lessen the chance of a speeding ticket).
Please note that each of the HUD’s measurements are not necessarily accurate right out of the box! Users will want to read over the manual and use the HUD settings menu to fine-tune the sensitivity and reference points to be as close to their respective gauges as possible. As an example, before this review unit was adjusted, the test vehicle kept exceeding (and alerting) a 70mph speed threshold. Upon adjustment, it was found that the HUD’s reference point was causing a readout about four or five miles per hour higher than the actual speed of the vehicle.
So, should you buy a HUD? My answer is no. The effect is very gimmicky and while gimmicks can be really fun at times, the amount of time spent wrestling with this device is not worth the end result. There are likely better versions of automobile HUDs out there and I will be happy to look into other devices like this in the future, but I’ll pass on this particular model.
BUY FROM AMAZON