iHUDisplay Lite on Golf GTi dashFascinated by the possibility of having a head up display, that can be used in any car, we downloaded iHUDisplay lite. This is a simple iPhone app that will work with any GPS equipped iPhone. It displays your speed , course in degrees, altitude and time. Not only that but it has a speed camera warning system built in, and all for free ! Read on for more info and review: click “continue reading” below movie

iHUDisplay Lite - on Mercedes SL350 dash - will need to fit power lead and stick in place. Notice double reflection

App downloaded and installed, we headed for a Mercedes SL350 that was handily in our car park, switched on the app and thrust it on the top of the dashboard. Oh, disappointment; the reflection of the app’s graphics were barely visible and the iPhone’s screen reflected all the ambient light. This app is clearly only meant to be used at night !

Take 2 – It’s dark and time to try again. We put the phone on the dashboard, fired up iHUDisplay Lite, set the prefs to “mirror” mode and bingo: the graphics were bright. Messing around with positioning we found that the phone needs to be quite near the base of the windscreen to reflect in the driver’s natural field of view. This means an annoyingly long power lead if the app’s going to be used on a long journey. We also found that rotating the phone so that it’s around 2 o’clock made the reflection significantly brighter (you’ll have to experiment with this as it depends where you mount your phone) which must be due to the polarizing filter on the iPhone screen. Now the bad news: the windscreen’s sandwich construction creates a double reflection making the graphics almost illegible. We thought we’d get used to it and set off into the night, thinking that as the street lighting thinned, exiting the city, we’d get better contrast. But no, despite trying other colours, and green appeared to be the brightest, it’s too hard to pick out the info.

iHUDisplay Lite - iPhone tilted to 2 o'clock gave greater brightness and contrast

Change of tactics, we discover there’s a simplified display in prefs that only shows speed and speed camera warnings. The advantage of this is that the phone gets used in landscape orientation and can use most of the screen to display huge numbers. Eureka, this works as the numbers are so large that the double reflection is lost within the numbers themselves: they just look a bit fuzzy but legible. We’re cruising down rural lanes now and the display is bright but not overly distracting. Speed is matching the car’s speedo almost exactly. Approaching a junction the speed camera warning chirps and flashes a camera icon. Accuracy is spot on, although the app is not taking travel direction into account so will beep a warning, whichever way we are traveling. We wondered why the app gave us a strange warning after every traffic light. Turned out that we’d accidentally set a speed limit warning at 20km/h , doh: user unfamiliarity and incompetence… Increase it to your motorway speed limit and it becomes a useful feature. This is why the speed displayed in the photo below is red: we have exceeded the speed set in the app’s prefs.

Back at the car park we switch to the YW Golf GTi. It’s thinner more upright windscreen suits the HUD much better and the double image, although still there, is less pronounced and numbers easily read. Moreover, we fit it to the centre of the dashboard and the reflection is straight and bright. Our right hand drive car gives the driver the optimum angle.

Conclusion: avoid cars with swept back thick windscreens, use it at night in speed only mode and it’s quite good. There is of course a paid for app which packs a few more features such as mobile speed cameras, extra viewing options, and clearer larger graphics, which help the legibility problem we were talking about earlier. At UKP 1.19, this is not going to break the bank and will be a fun app to play with. Just remember that for the app to work well you have to put your iPhone on the dash where everyone can see it.

iHUDisplay Lite in speed mode


Download iHUDisplay – iHUDisplay & SpeedCams
Download iHUDisplay Lite (free) – iHUDisplay lite

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