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Ford MyTouch climate control screen
All your touch screens are belong to us?

With CES now in full swing, many automakers are loading us up with press releases on their latest tech wares destined for vehicles. We've already told you about Ford's 3 millionth SYNC installation and Tesla Motors is aiming for the fences with a 17" touch screen in its upcoming Model S electric sedan.

However, Consumer Reports is bringing a "cold shower" to the touch screen/touch sensitive button era that seems to be upon us. The publication, which tests vehicles based on a number of different categories, failed to recommend the Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX crossovers despite the fact that the vehicles feature new styling inside and out, improved ride/handling, better performance, and improved fuel economy.

Instead, Consumer Reports dumped on the two vehicles because of the "overcomplicated MyFord Touch driver-interface system". While the vast array of touch screen controls may appeal to the gadget generation, Consumer Reports isn't having any of it. The publication says that the MyFord Touch system is a distraction while driving, adding:

Those screens are controlled by two steering-wheel-mounted five-way switches not unlike those found on a television remote or cell phone 

If that sounds confusing, it gets worse: The system also recognizes and responds to voice commands. It all adds up to three or four ways to make what should be simple adjustments. None of the options works as well or is as easy to use as old-fashioned knobs and switches, and they can be more time-consuming and distracting to operate. First-time users might find it impossible to comprehend. 

Consumer Reports ends their analysis of MyFord Touch by stating:

We hope Ford returns to using tactile buttons and knobs again. Improving the touch-screen interface would also help.

Ever since the launch of the iPhone, it seems as though the most popular portable devices have moved to a touch-sensitive screens even when they seem like a step back in usability (see iPod nano 6G). Everything from smartphones, to remote controls, to iPads, to all-in-one PCs now use touch screens -- it was only a matter of time before these systems would be integrated into mainstream vehicles to take over a number of secondary controls (and not just GPS/audio systems).

Ford isn't alone, however, when it comes to high-tech user interfaces in vehicles. The aforementioned Tesla Model S will likely have issues of its own when it comes to providing useful tactile feedback to drivers and the Chevrolet Volt does away with many traditional buttons and knobs in favor of touch sensitive controls.



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RE: hate to say it
By Slyne on 1/4/2011 3:21:13 PM , Rating: 2
I disagree... We're not talking about entertainment systems in the car here, but about a new kind of user interface.

Sure, anything new requires getting used to, but it doesn't mean it won't be more efficient afterwards, especially if you can tailor it to your needs, as is likely in the future with fexible sytems like this one. Contrast this to my "harcoded" car's knobs and buttons temperature control system: after 4 years I still make mistakes using it, and my wife has given up on understanding it: she just turns it off when she drives my car.

As for attention on the road, some drivers will look ahead with that blank stare, not pay attention, change lanes without using turnlights, and of course without checking their blind spots, and cut you off without even noticing. I can't be the only one thinking that it can't come soon enough that, all those people have to do in a car, is watch the entertainment system.


RE: hate to say it
By walk2k on 1/4/2011 5:19:55 PM , Rating: 3
No, we're talking about superflourous CRAP they cram into cars to try to turn them into mobile living rooms!

Car's "user interface" = the steering wheel and pedals!

That is ALL you should be concerned with while driving a car.


RE: hate to say it
By bodar on 1/4/2011 6:33:35 PM , Rating: 2
Don't know about you, but I hardly ever drive alone. So, my passenger(s) should not be able to change the volume or track or anything like that? That's absurdly stupid. Blame the user, not the tools.


RE: hate to say it
By mindless1 on 1/8/2011 12:26:51 AM , Rating: 2
Basically yes, your passenger should be a passenger, not the DJ distracting you, and "user" is driver of a car, not passenger so your point went nowhere.


RE: hate to say it
By cmdrdredd on 1/4/2011 10:07:42 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Car's "user interface" = the steering wheel and pedals! That is ALL you should be concerned with while driving a car.
z

WRONG!!!!! I use a manual which has a shifter...so I have another distraction point right? You're retarded


RE: hate to say it
By The Raven on 1/5/2011 2:06:45 PM , Rating: 2
Get with the times man: paddle shifters on the wheel. Again, steering wheel and pedals.

Wow this guy is a retard because he advocates safe driving but overlooks one detail. What does that make you then?


RE: hate to say it
By mindless1 on 1/8/2011 12:29:33 AM , Rating: 2
Factually speaking, yes any additional control you CHOOSE to have but aren't required to is an unnecessary distraction.

Calling someone retarded for /this/?... well good luck in life if that's the social skill level you have.


RE: hate to say it
By Dr of crap on 1/5/2011 8:57:42 AM , Rating: 2
While I can agree with your "blank stare and just blantently changing lanes",
You STILL have trouble with you cars controls that use knobs and switches!!??!!

I agree with the comments posted here about the touchscreen NOT being the best choice to use, and knobs and switches are better controls for in car use, the entertainment system and voice controls might be better served by this Sync system.

You are the kind of people that shouldn't even consider the Sync system, yet will be the ones that get it the most. And then cause accidents because it's "to hard" for you to master!

Maybe a good old Fairlane would suit you better!


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