Yesterday, USA Today published a delightful piece of “journalism” on car buying called “Tips to avoid car dash systems that’ll drive you crazy.” The second paragraph makes the following observation:
The best of the systems reduce distraction. They make driving easier and more pleasant. The worst can infuriate customers and devastate an automaker’s reputation.
No kidding. Glad somebody got paid to write those 3 sentences.
What’s interesting is that just last week, I read this commentary on a Bloomberg item that can briefly be summarized:
A $1500 or more device added to a car that (1) has out-dated maps the day it’s released, (2) if it can be updated at all costs a fortune to do so on a regular basis, (3) is slow, buggy and frankly has a user interface designed by Frankenstein?
You’re surprised that people buy a $20 suction cup or airvent clip and use their phone instead?
Where the hell have you been?
I know a man who swore a year ago that he would never again own a car with any sort of touch screen device in it — not even the radio! He correctly pointed out that it was a distraction to reach over and do anything on such hardware. However, Detroit has decided to channel Rhett Butler and frankly, not give a damn. You’ll have that hardware in your car and you’ll like it! I’m not willing to go so far as to agree with Mr. Denninger and speculate that “I’m sure the NSA finds this not only interesting but an actual goal. Remember, if you never do anything wrong (like visit a hooker, smoke a joint, have one too many beers, etc) then you don’t care if big government knows literally every single thing you do — right?”
Look. I don’t need a lot out of that thing in the middle of my dashboard. It should play music, either via radio, CD, or from MP3s on my phone. I have grown to like bluetooth integration on my phone, but it must be absolutely painless and stay synced properly. I don’t need it to give me directions: I have a smart phone, a map book, and a functional brain, thanks. I don’t need to give it voice commands: my aforementioned smart phone takes voice commands quite well, I can pull over to make a call when needed, and I often have a co-pilot who can dial. And the device absolutely must have physical buttons that always exist in the same location when I need them. I can’t imagine why it hasn’t occurred to anybody in Detroit that looking to the console to see where the appropriate button is could be, you know, dangerous. But then, these are the guys who can’t imagine why you would put the car in park and not want every single door to unlock.
Don’t give me a fast ration about how I will learn to love the additional features I don’t need. Please, I managed 5 years as a Realtor without any damnable navigation system telling me when to turn left.
So next time I buy a car — which will hopefully be years from now — I will do the Nancy Reagan and Just Say No to expensive features I just don’t want or need.