Of course, since that time, the technology has advanced and become more readily available for consumer use. While some auto manufacturers are starting to include a HUD in their newer vehicles, there are still plenty of solid aftermarket options.
Choosing the Best Car HUD of 2018
Still, figuring out which aftermarket car HUD is right for you can be difficult. With different types of displays, different vehicle compatibilities, and different connectivity options, know what is a good value requires specific knowledge. That is why we have put together our list of the top5 aftermarket automotive HUDs as well as a comprehensive buyer’s guide, to you can feel confident making an informed purchase.
|Dedicated Screen||5 inch||Check Price|
|Garmin||Film Projection or Vacuum|
|4 inch||Check Price|
|Echoman EM03B||Dedicated Screen||4 inch||Check Price|
|Arpenkin X5||Film Projection||3 inch||Check Price|
|ZXLine A8||Film Projection||5.5 inch||Check Price|
1. Navdy – Simply the Best Aftermarket HUD
First, the Navdy features a dedicated screen that uses LED lights in full color. Quite simply, there is not another product on our list that can hope to compete with the brightness, clarity, and cohesion of image quality. The only issue is that the screen’s supposed transparent projection which is supposed make the image seem superimposed into the distance does not work for everybody. However, this is less of an issue with the product and more a result of different people’s biology not responding to the technology the same.
This allows the Navdy to use numerous 3rd-party apps or other apps on the phone without issue and will not interrupt the products function like it would with the Garmin. As icing on the cake, the Navdy can even respond to voice commands–though the effectiveness is a bit spotty – or hand gestures. With these interactive functions, you can answer calls, respond to texts, and get directions in real time.
- Unmatched in terms of connectivity and interactivity such that the competition pales in comparison
- The software is incredibly well done, presenting a far greater accuracy and responsiveness than the other products
- Installation is a breeze and customer service is by far the most responsive
- The display does not project directly onto your windshield, forcing you to continuously refocus as you look from the road to the HUD and back.
- The image is incredibly dependent on the angle of observation such that if you move slightly to one side or the other–say you lean on the armrest–the image will go out of focus
- There are a couple issues this HUD has with all-electric and hybrid vehicles specifically
2. Garmin – The Best Mid-Tier Aftermarket HUD
However, one area where the Garmin provides a unique feature that the Navdy cannot match is screen versatility. Whereas the Navdy uses a dedicated screen, the Garmin is able to use both a dedicated screen or a film projection. While a dedicated screen is without question better for image quality, smaller cars or those with a lower angle windshield slope may have trouble accommodating the HUD and screen without seeming awkward, unsightly, or just not fit properly.
Moreover, while the Garmin does not feature the same breadth of 3rd-party app compatibility as the Navdy, it does use a proprietary app that allows GPS and directions – though in a more limited context. The Garmin also accomplishes this connectivity via Bluetooth, just like the Navdy.
- Only the Garmin HUD gives you the versatility to choose whether you want to use the included lens or a film on your windshield as the display
- The HUD’s power adapter can also be used to charge a phone with a USB connection
- The only other HUD on our list that offers directions, though more simplified than the Navdy’s
- Though not as expensive as the Navdy, the Garmin is still far more expensive than the other three products on this list without all of the Navdy’s features
- The information will be shut down should you use your phone for another purpose during its activity
- The direction information is not as accurate as one would like and must come from the Garmin HUD app itself
3. Echoman EM03B – The Best HUD for Mountainous Driving
For one, the display does present a good amount of information. In fact, the Echoman is unique in that it is the only HUD on our list that presents your altitude. In fairness, the Navdy could be used to find that information as well, but it is not presented natively. As such, if you are driving over mountainous terrain – like in Japan where the Navdy was developed – you will be able to see your altitude.
Unfortunately, both the altitude and the compass – the other piece of information not often found on a HUD – have their own issues. For some reason, these features regularly find themselves out of sync and must be realigned regularly. However, the HUD does not present the method for doing so in an easy manner and is not even necessarily effective once you do figure out how to change it.
- This is the only HUD that provides an altitude
- Installation is fairly easy and straight-forward, though some of the settings are more difficult to adjust
- Reasonably priced and provides a good amount of information
- The actual arrangement of the information is not especially ordered or attractive
- The information output has a bit of a delay, which can be especially important for things like speed
- Both the compass and the altitude will need to be reset often and is a tedious process in the first place
4. Arpenkin X5 HUD – The Best Budget HUD
Of course, this can be a bit of a double – edged sword. While the total amount of information the HUD can display is not truly compromised, and numerous users will appreciate the displaying of a single piece of information at once, switching through the different pieces of information can be tedious and ultimately takes your eyes off of the road.
Moreover, this HUD features the worst display out of any on our list, and there are no ways to correct it like with some of the other products we reviewed. The Arpenkin, as a budget HUD, uses a projection display onto a film placed on your windshield. Unfortunately, this film does little to alleviate the problems common with many projection HUDS.
Some of the other products on this list who suffer this issue have a workaround by placing a black film behind the screen. Sadly this does not work with the Arpenkin, which makes this only suitable for nighttime driving.
- Though the difference is not significant, this is still the least expensive product on our list
- The alarms are accurate, numerous, and easily customizable
- The display information is well-organized and not at all cluttered
- At 3”m this HUD has the smallest display out of any product on our list
- Film projections without the option a lens can suffer from resolution and brightness issues as well as double image depending on the angle of the sun
- The amount of information displayed is least amount out of any product on our list
5. ZXLine A8 – The Largest HUD Display
However, if you have a newer model vehicle and are not looking to spend over $100 on an aftermarket HUD, the ZXLine will perform better than either the Echoman or the Arpenkin. However, both of those other models have clear advantages in some respects, so you will need to weigh what it is you want most.
Still not bad for the money
One issue that is a bit of a push-pull consideration is the information organization. Quite simply, there is a fair amount of information, and it is all bunched together. This cluttered organization can make it somewhat difficult to see quickly. However, the ZXLine did at least color code the information to make it easier to see what you are looking for. Still, people with poorer eyesight might find it difficult to use.
- At 5.5”, this HUD has the largest display out of any product on our list
- The projection film does actually eliminate double images, unlike some other products
- While the amount and organization can be a bit cluttered, the color coding helps find the information you are looking for quickly
- Film projections without the option a lens can suffer from resolution and brightness issues depending on the angle of the sun
- The directions are not well-written which can make installation difficult
- This product faces the most compatibility issues out of any on our list
Best HUD for a car – Buyer’s Guide
There are only two types of aftermarket automotive HUDs at the moment: projections and screens. Ultimately, the HUDs that utilize their own screen are generally superior.
The screen itself allows you to quickly and easily reposition the unit if the angle does not allow the best presentation. Moreover, HUDs with their own screen are far more likely to suffer less from the dreaded “double image.”
However, the material of the screen will play an important role in whether this effect occurs as well. However, there is no standard material used for HUD displays that use a screen, though avoidance of plastic composites is advisable. Unfortunately, the HUDs that utilize a screen are also generally significantly more expensive than HUDs that simply project the image.
Problems and Solutions
Still, you get what you pay for, and projection HUDs have their own issues. The biggest problem with projection HUD has to do with the image quality. In the most ideal conditions, the image quality of a projection HUD will generally be pretty good. However, ideal conditions are usually limited to at night without too many bright lights. During the day, and especially if the sun is in front of you setting on the horizon, the image of projection HUDs can be completely washed out.
This also requires you to stick a small piece of film onto your windshield which can be difficult. Specifically, you need to know exactly where the film should be placed which can take a few tries of trial and error. Moreover, depending on the HUD, the film itself may be sticky. This can make removing it from the windshield difficult, and if you have to reposition it numerous times, it may lose some of its adhesive integrity.
Connectivity and Information
Whether or not your HUD connects to your phone will also impact the amount and type of information you can receive. HUDs that do not connect to a smartphone generally only receive information from the vehicle itself. This information can include, speed, RPMs, engine temperature, and a host of other pieces of information. However, if your HUD connects to your phone it will often provide directions when driving, and some of the more advanced HUDs will even allow you to use 3rd-party apps.
However, the brightness will also hinge on whether the display is projected onto a dedicated screen or a film placed on the windshield.
The same considerations which impact the brightness of the display will also impact the resolution and the cohesion with the same factors producing a better or worse quality.
This consideration can be broken into two parts: smartphone and vehicle. The best HUDs connect to your smartphone and even allow the use of 3rd-party apps while in function. However, even for the HUDs that connect to your smartphone, many of them require the use of HUD-specific apps and may stop working when you switch to a different app.
The other compatibility consideration for HUDs has to do with the vehicle in question. Different vehicles have different readout systems which measure the vehicle’s performance. These readouts are OBD, OBD II, EOBD (for European standards), and JOBD (for Japanese standards). If your HUD and vehicle readout are not compatible, you will not be able to receive information about your vehicle’s performance through the HUD.
Of course, this has to do more with the Navdy’s ability to connect with your smartphone and utilize 3rd-party apps, but it is still an impressive feat to be able to control your smartphone with hand motions directed towards your HUD.
Beyond the Navdy, the Garmin offers a decent product at a greatly reduced price, though the smartphone functionality is greatly reduced as well. For a stripped down, budget option, the Arpenkin is a solid choice, though the ZXLine may be a better one.