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Revhead Ramblings: Why Do We Obsess over Touchscreens?

We have a weird obsession with making everything touchscreen; computers, fridges and juicers are just a few items that have been complicated for no reason.

I’m not saying every touchscreen is bad. Smartphones are wonderful, the self-ordering screens at fast food restaurants make the ordering process quicker whilst hiding my shamefully big orders in the process.

Do Cars Need a Touchscreen?

I changed my car at the end of January and I was genuinely looking forward to ditching my aux cable in favour of a cool looking touchscreen with Bluetooth. Three months down the line and I’m already bored with it. Everything works as it should, my phone instantly connects, and everything sounds great, but trying to use anything other than my steering wheel controls on the move is a nightmare.

Every prod at the relatively large screen requires 100% concentration; not ideal when I’m meant to be watching the road. Even once I’m fully immersed in the screen, nine times out of ten I hit the wrong button. Regardless of whether it’s my chubby fingers or an uncalibrated screen, it’s horrendously frustrating!

They’re Advancing at a Snail’s Pace

People love using their iPhone for everything, so why wouldn’t they love tapping away at their screens? Perhaps because nearly every infotainment system is slower than a 1990s games console. It’s true in my golf and it’s true in a six figure McLaren. If we’re spending such large amounts of cash on our cars, is it too much to ask to have software from this century? Maps usually load by the time you’ve reached your destination and after 10 consecutive song skips my VW likes to throw a strop.

BMW Have Got the Right Idea

While their arrangement is still liable to less than desirable loading speeds, their iDrive system has a physical control on the centre console. This makes gliding through menus effortless and with some practice your eyes will barely leave the tarmac. While inputting an address is slightly more time consuming, it’s a small price to pay.

They’re Still in Demand

It’s easy to see why manufacturers are so eager to push this digital craze. A touchscreen gives the cabin a wow factor but is that worth sacrificing practicality and safety? Mercedes’ MBUX system seems to be a happy medium, while it does give you the option of a touchscreen, there’s also an easy to use trackpad to make inputs on the move easier and more precise; I feel like I can live with that compromise.

To ensure you don’t miss out on any of Alex’s ‘Revhead Ramblings‘ be sure to follow him on Twitter at @AlexClickDealer!

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