Garmin announce portable Head Up Display

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

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Today Garmin have launched a very interesting product, although before you get too excited there are a couple of issues; firstly, it’s not actually for sale yet, it’s likely to arrive in the UK around September October time, and although it’s not yet guaranteed to come to the UK, I think it is quite likely to arrive as even Garmin UK have been talking about it.

The Head Up Display is portable, although more on that later, and assuming you have the right SatNav software on your smartphone, will display turn information (lane assist), distance to the next turn, current speed and speed limit, and estimated time of arrival. It looks like it may also be able to warn you of upcoming speed cameras and traffic too.

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At something like £80 – £130 it won’t come cheap, but will offer two modes of operation; you can attach a reflective film to your windscreen for the best effect, but if you swap cars a lot, it will also come with a reflective lens panel (as above; there’s quite a large bezel to this, which is a shame, but a small price to pay). It appears to need constant power, but the power cord includes a USB port for connecting your phone charger to, allowing you to only need one power socket in the car. It connects via Bluetooth to your iPhone, Android device or even your Windows Phone, although your choice of SatNav software is limited; on iPhone you can use Garmin’s StreetPilot for iPhone or NAVIGON for iPhone whereas for Android and Windows Phone you are limited to only NAVIGON. Finally, it will auto adjust the brightness depending on the conditions.

I like this device. Given Garmin already have Bluetooth built into many of their hardware devices (for both handsfree calling and their Ecoroute HD product), I hope they are able to add support into their hardware devices for the HUD, but even so, this does look like an interesting product even if you can only use it with your smartphone.

We’ll provide more information closer to release time.


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Clever little device for displaying road speed

Friday, February 15th, 2013

This, the Snooper My Speed Aura, is a clever little device. Although it’s made by Snooper, a well established speed camera detector company, it actually has a more useful purpose than alerting you to speed camera locations (which it can also do…); it tells you the normal speed limit along a road. By utilising the Navteq road speed database and a GPS signal, it is able to tell you what it thinks is the normal speed for the road for your car (**), and that, to me, is a clever trick.

Actually, it can also detect speed cameras; it has access to the Snooper Aura speed camera database, so using the GPS can also alert you to whether there is a speed camera in the area, but the ability to tell you the speed limit of normal roads would give you confidence over whether you were speeding or not to being with.

Normally £130 (with lifetime updates to the Snooper speed camera database), it’s currently available from Halfords for only £90 (though they don’t keep it in stock, so you need to order it to be delivered to home or to a store which will take a few days, so this deal is not for those who want to buy it straight away.

It only comes with a windscreen suction mount, and I couldn’t find any third party mounts, though it might be possible to modify the mount to be able to mount directly onto the dash, and doesn’t seem to have a battery, so would need power at all times in the car, and the only other downside is that I haven’t tried the Snooper speed camera database to know how accurate it is (of course, you don’t really need to rely upon it with this particular device). In fact, you can buy it without the speed camera database (but the Halfords price with the camera support is still cheaper).

Even better, Snooper have recently updated the software inside the device, and any new devices bought this year have a new trick up their sleeve; you can specify what type of vehicle you have (car, truck, car towing) and it will adjust the speed to reflect your speed on the road, which I think makes the device even more useful, especially for those who occasionally tow, or have caravans, motorhomes etc.

On the screen above you can see it’s displaying a speed camera alert (you can turn off the smiley face if you want a more professional looking device!), when there are no speed cameras around that circle displays the current road speed instead.

** – sometimes it doesn’t know the exact speed for the road, so provides a suggested advisory speed. Also, when speed limits change the device may not know about the change, so you should always used devices like this as a secondary aide, and still pay attention to the road signs!

Although the device comes with lifetime speed camera updates, the updates for the road speed information does cost; it’s currently £10 per year, which seems not too bad, especially when you realise that covers the whole of Europe (where data is available), and not just the UK. I’ve no idea how often Snooper update their data though; their website says the £10 charge allows you to update “once per year”, which does sound a little infrequent to me.

Overall, a clever little device that concentrates on doing one thing, and seems to do it quite well. My only problem with it is the price; for the same price (actually slightly less), you could buy a device such as the Garmin Nuvi 30, with full European navigation as well as the facility for displaying the road speed limit (a function of most recent models from both Garmin and TomTom). In my mind, there are only two situations where the Snooper My Speed really shines; when you drive a truck or tow, so the ability to select vehicle type is important (satnavs that offer that facility are normally much more money), or where you have a built in satnav in your car already, and don’t need a second device, but would like to benefit from knowing the road speed limit at all times.


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