imageI was all excited to get a new car with an in-dash system (it happens to have GMC’s Intellilink system which is one of those touch screen all-in-one systems).  When you see it you’d figure that it’s a tablet in a dashboard that’s been fine tuned for a car, right? Yeah it sucks. And I don’t think it’s an exclusive issue. When ranting to friends they all tell me how much their dash systems suck to varying degrees. Let me give you a few issues. First off, the touchscreen itself sucks and as far as I can tell it’s actually a resistive display – yeah really. It requires pressure to react and a touch alone isn’t recognized. The navigation system is horrid as you sit there typing in letter by letter and they have separate boxes for the street name, number, city, etc. It doesn’t need to be that hard and take that long to perform a basic task. And Intellilink does this awesome thing that the navigation ‘app’ is separate than the destination app so if you’re in navigation and want to stop it (you know, because it gave you shitty directions so you started using your phone) you have to go home and then into the ‘’destination’ apps to turn off commands. So long as you pay for XM you get real time traffic however it doesn’t seem like the system takes that into account when routing as the routing is always the same (and yes, traffic is a separate ‘app’). All it does is give you a warning that you’re approaching a traffic jam. Want to get the weather? Yeah better keep a subscription going for that too. And I have to pay for music too. I see.  Add to this that the whole thing has a poor UI that involves way too much pecking around to safely do when driving .

This unresponsive piece of garbage reminded me of Windows Mobile (not WP) in every way. A functional yet outdated OS on outdated hardware that needs to be dropped and replaced with something modern. And what could we have instead? I’d take any modern tablet with a data connection every single time.

I don’t care which camp you’re in – I’ll take an iPad mini, Fire or a Nokia 8” RT tablet (yeah I’m dreaming) sitting in my dash. But let’s be serious here – the navigation on phones is better than those dash systems and you get to pick your favorite, whether it’s Waze, Google, Nokia Drive, etc.  Want music? Of course you have a million options on your phone that range from free to paid. Weather? come on now.  And data entry on all modern smart phones can be done with your voice. The use of voice in car systems is weak sauce. Just consider your phone and how it can read your texts out loud and you can respond with voice. Not saying it’s good to do this while driving but having a text read to you is a fair way to avoid a real distraction.  There’s really nothing that the car system provides that’s better than a modern smart pone except for the fact that it’s in the right location.

imageBottom line for me – if Nokia drops an 8” tablet with Drive and Nokia music and a built in data connection (yes I get that I have to pay for that) then I’m buying one on day one and mounting it in front of this garbage dash system they sold me. It’s far more functional and of course it can be portable this way as well.  For now I’m just using my Lumia 900 for directions but am waiting for the EOS to come out which I  can drop into their car charger and be in a pretty good spot.

The fact that none of the big players have really hit this market and made a tablet that’s designed to be an in-dash device that you can also carry with you is beyond me. I know Nokia has a car app on their phones but this is a no-brainer on a tablet. You just need to market it. The spread in price from the current system to any modern device can’t be significant. There’s room here to make a move if someone does it.

Am I missing something or is it just me that’s disappointed in the spread between mobile operating systems and in-dash systems?


  1. iOS 7 has the car mode built in. New cars will have in dash units that will do all the stuff you’re talking about without having to hack a dash adapter or leave an iPad or etc in the car all the time. Doesn’t so you much good unless your brand releases a compatible unit for your vehicle, but I’m sure 3rd party companies like pioneer etc will release compatible models too. (App radio ?)

  2. Navigation sounds a lot like my old Tahoe system. All changes, entries, etc. are designed to be made while the car is not moving. Playing devils advocate here for a moment, car manufacturers are walking a thin line with these immersive, interactive displays, and paying attention to the road. I see some big lawsuits in all their futures. And laws to ban what you suggest as an alternative. I know in NJ, video displays are not permitted in the front passenger compartment. Of course, things can always be better. Look how long it has taken the auto industry to adopt Bluetooth, which is still not available in every car (if I was the Prez, it would have been mandatory 10 years ago). Oh, and for voice, OnStar is your friend.

  3. The purpose of a GPS is to get me from here to there the best way possible. I’ll use the toggle and press system that I have in my Nissan if that’s what it takes.

    YMMV (I had to use that in this context) on in dash accuracy. We have had factory systems in the Nissan as well as Honda and Toyota, going back to 2005. I use cell phone apps when I rent a car. The factory systems have been much more reliable, especially for in-city driving. Most recently, Google was clueless on one way streets in Baltimore last week.

  4. Google Maps has been dead on for me as far as one way streets, and I drive in Baltimore and DC all the time… not to mention almost every other major city in this country.

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