Monday, January 23, 2012
The North Hall at the Consumer Electronics Show this month looked more like an auto show ... Audi, Ford, OnStar, and Cadillac, to name just a few, all had major displays, and there was a gaggle of car customizers taking the car makers' basic designs to the outer limits. Most of the original equipment manufacturers were showcasing their 'voice command' systems that fight driver distraction by allowing you to turn on the heat, or switch radio stations, or make a phone call with either a quick touch of a steering wheel button or just a voice command like "call my wife."
Although the avowed purpose of all this technology is to make your driving experience safer and more enjoyable, the dashboards of these cars are starting to look like the cockpits of Boeing 747s. I highly recommend you check out some of these new models at your local dealer, but make sure you get a 30-minute crash course on how to use this stuff before you get on the road...if you're still driving an older car with just basic controls, you're going to get overwhelmed in a hurry. And if you don't own a smartphone, don't even bother, because most of the systems depend on your phone for a lot of their functions.
Personally, as much as I love technology, I wouldn't buy a car or truck solely for its computer brain. I still value the simplicity and joy of just driving the car with the top down and the radio/GPS/radar detector/bluetooth phone/iPod, etc., in the OFF position!