July 8, 2013 at 2:10 PM ET
The latest tech from Garmin isn't a bigger or higher-resolution screen on a GPS unit, but a clever way of putting your turn-by-turn directions straight onto the windshield, fighter pilot-style. If you're tired of candy-colored maps and a bright LCD in your face at night, this retro-futuristic setup could be for you.
Garmin's "HUD" or "head-up display" is a bit like those in pricier rides — like F-16s (and the occasional Cadillac). It eschews the LCD screen entirely; Instead, the dash-top device has a small but bright monochrome display that is simply reflected in a special transparent sticker you put on the windshield. There's also an included reflecting lens in case your windshield is for some reason unsuitable.
Why get this, you ask? Some people will prefer the minimal, single-color display over the occasionally gaudy and distracting LCD. A bit of cool blue text, an arrow or two, and some voice directions are more their style. And automatically adjusting brightness means it'll be visible in broad daylight but won't blind you in darkness.
The HUD unit costs $130 and pairs with your smartphone — but it relies on a Garmin app for its map data, so be ready to drop at least another $30 for that. You may also want to pack a car charger kit, since your phone will have to be on and transmitting location data over Bluetooth for the entire trip.
You can pick up a HUD at Garmin's website starting later this summer.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.