Home » Autopian Asks: What’s The Ideal Size And Configuration For An Infotainment Screen?

Autopian Asks: What’s The Ideal Size And Configuration For An Infotainment Screen?

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OK gang, let’s talk infotainment screens. What do you think is the ideal size? How big is too big? How small is too small? Should screens be horizontal (landscape) or vertical (portrait) orientation? Or square? Or round?

Should the infotainment screen be integrated into the dash, or just hung onto that center stack like a picture on a wall–or stood on edge atop the dash? Which brands do the best job of incorporating infotainment screens into the interior design?

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

You’re welcome to discuss features and functions that belong on the screen versus physical controls, though let’s focus on screen size/integration. To the comments!

2022 Ford F 150 Lightning LariatHere’s Ford’s 15-inch vertical display, as included with the F-150 Lightning in Lariat and Platinum trim levels (notice the volume scroll knob, which I think is just fastened to that screen, with the knob actually actuating the screen to change the volume).

 

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Bmw 3s Edge Curve Glow 2This is the 2023 BMW 3-series interior. A single, unhooded, curved panoramic screen incorporates all the gauges and infotainment functions.

 

Tesla Screens 2Tesla’s Model S debuted with a vertical screen (top) before going horizontal in later iterations (a Plaid is pictured here). The 17″ screen has left-right power-tilt functionality so you can adjust the viewing angle.

 

Doug Demuro Byd Han
Screenshot: Doug DeMuro/YouTube

Imb Gejujn

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How about a rotating screen? That’s the BYD Han executing the maneuver, as captured by Doug DeMuro. Go ahead, we know you want to. “Thisssss …”

Buick Reatta 3

OK, real talk: do you really need any more than what the Buick Reatta had for us in 1985?

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Bill Garcia
Bill Garcia
1 year ago

Only a small-ish digital screen cluster for me, thanks. I’d rather have a good place to dock/connect my phone. Keep car functions to physical buttons on the dash and trip info and necessary car settings to the cluster.

I would pay for an OEM screen delete option. It would solve the text & drive problem, too! Also, I trust phone manufacturers more with software updates vs car manufacturers (based on my arguably limited experience with BMW, Volvo and Jeep vs Apple)

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
1 year ago

After renting a Polestar 2 – I found that it’s pretty close to the perfect arrangement.
Just enough screen – not too much – and the right amount of buttons, with a drive selector right there in the middle.

Now if we could figure out a better arrangement for the cup holder…

Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
1 year ago

What do screens have to offer other than being cheap?

Jagoff
Jagoff
1 year ago

Being a life-long Ford guy, I ordered a Mach E when they were announced, practically sight unseen. When the dealer finally got a demo I could drive I took one look at the gigantic screen and promptly cancelled my order. They tried to follow Testla’s lead except Tesla relied on the screen for every interface because it’s cheaper than all the buttons and knobs on traditional vehicles. With a background in ergonomics, I feel Ford abandoned everything they learned over years and years of user data just because they thought screens were the future. And then they had the audacity to glue a volume control to the bottom of the screen “because of driver feedback”.

Danny Zabolotny
Danny Zabolotny
1 year ago

The best screen is no screen. I have my phone for that, I can just stick it on a mount if I need navigation. Otherwise my generic aftermarket single-DIN head unit is all I need, as it has aux-in and Bluetooth and can charge my phone.

Alexi Antoniou
Alexi Antoniou
1 year ago

The smaller the better. Nothing dates a car faster than yesterday’s screen. Our phones prove that small screens are useful. Screens are bright, distracting, and as a result, dangerous.

AdamVIP
AdamVIP
1 year ago

Of the modern interiors utilizing large screens I think that best implementation by a good amount is the Rivian interior.

Citrus
Citrus
1 year ago

No screen, only HUD.

I mean I just think that would be cool.

But honestly you don’t need anything more than eight inches, enough real estate to see the backup camera, maps and your music organization. And screens replacing gauges suck, good gauges are like a fine watch – great to look at.

Salaryman
Salaryman
1 year ago
Reply to  Citrus

But honestly you don’t need anything more than eight inches,

That’s what she said.

Last edited 1 year ago by Salaryman
PlatinumZJ
PlatinumZJ
1 year ago

As a fan of physical buttons, keep the climate controls off the screen! I really don’t see why a screen needs to exceed the size of a double DIN head unit. I can see artist info and album graphics, and even my Android Auto display just fine on one of those. I do enjoy vehicles that have a small screen incorporated into the instrument cluster though; that level of customization is fun to me.

Moonhawk48
Moonhawk48
1 year ago

The best system I’ve used is still the idrive used in late 2000s BMWs. The screen is a decent size but since it isn’t a touch screen it can be set way back on the dash so its in your line of sight without having to take your eyes off the road. The controller is easy to use even with gloves, and the hvac and radio volume and presets have their own separate controls. Add on to the fact that you can retrofit android auto and carplay to it makes it feature compatible with modern systems without the frustration of tacked on or poorly setup newer systems.

ElmerTheAmish
ElmerTheAmish
1 year ago
Reply to  Moonhawk48

Mazda would like a word…

Seriously, you just described their current situation. Though they are starting to (slowly) roll out touchscreen capability, but the command dial is still there in your center console, just drop your hand slightly from the shifter.

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
1 year ago

5.45″ x 2.65″, detachable and fits into my pocket. It’s an iPhone 8.

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
1 year ago

Honestly, I’m pretty happy with the UConnect system I have. It’s probably an 8″ screen, and most functions, including most importantly HVAC and audio controls have redundant buttons and knobs. It’s integrated into the dash, though I’m not against the tablet on top concept if it’s used to lower the dash height (some people are raving lunatics against that, and I’m not entirely sure why). The screen offers some functions that would probably be pretty irritating to add a bunch of buttons for, like control for the rear HVAC, various safety settings and infrequently used features. Overall I find it a best of both worlds, and it doesn’t seem like the sort of thing that would cost thousands to replace, like some of the massive ones I’ve been seeing lately.

VanGuy
VanGuy
1 year ago

I actually like the Model S debut screen’s placement–below the top of the dash. But I think I’d personally prefer a horizontal screen. I do like when they’re in line with the dash and not “sticking out”.

Screens are great for navigation, cameras, Android Auto/Apple Carplay, and music. Additionally, they’re great for those “infrequently accessed” settings like headlamp delay after shutting off, or whether to lock the doors after shifting from park. But basically everything else should be buttons/dials you can eventually learn to operate by feel alone.

Plus, I think having the play/pause, song skip, and volume buttons in the steering wheel is an acceptable substitute for a volume knob. I made a conscious effort to favor the buttons over the knob in my 2012 Prius v as practice for when I get some Alpine floating touchscreen head unit for it in the future, and it’s gone more smoothly than I expected.

I do wish there were offerings for aftermarket head units for it that integrated into the dash more nicely, but the only ones that look good are AliExpress head units with dubious quality. I don’t want the head unit itself to run Android, anyway.

Robert Sachs
Robert Sachs
1 year ago

I’m not anti-screen, and I see that BYD rotatating screen as a best-case scenario. (In general, portrait orientation is probably the most useful, but there could be instances where landscape is useful, like if you’re navigating in-city and need to know the names of side streets over the next quarter-mile more than you need to know what exit is 3 miles ahead.) In either case, though, there needs to be a Saab-like “Night Mode” setting that dims/blacks out a majority of the screen – preferably in conjunction with an OLED-style screen that is truly dark when off and doesn’t glow gray like a backlit LCD screen might) and turns on only if there’s something relevant to display, and there should be a setting that displays all the info in red, which preserves your night vision. That’s why airplanes have red cockpit lighting.

Mrbrown89
Mrbrown89
1 year ago

A little late to the party. The one I prefer the most from my vehicles is the 2017 Chevy Volt infotainment system. Beautiful integrated in the dashboard, the HVAC functions below it. I plug my phone, launch carplay, set my destination, play some music and that’s it, everything else I need is in the steering wheel. When I park, it give me a message about my drive, including a menu for charge settings. I click that, make sure everything is ok and leave the car.

Polestar 2 screen, a little frustrating sometimes. The internet connection takes time and everything lags. The HVAC functions are in the screen and you have to tap on them in order to see all the settings you need to adjust

Chevy Blazer screen, mounted almost on top of the dashboard, a little obnoxious but the HVAC controls are below and they are easy to manipulate

Chrysler Pacifica is good too, but the heated seats are only in the screen, there is not a dedicated button available

Jim Zavist
Jim Zavist
1 year ago

No bigger than a double DIN radio, centered in the dash, with knobs and/or levers for HVAC control. KISS!

VZSpyder
VZSpyder
1 year ago

Are you kidding me? No screens. Put the backup camera in the rearview mirror like Ford does it. Or, have a very small screen in between the physical instrument panel gauges (like most 2000-2010s cars had), and put the backup camera in there.

VanGuy
VanGuy
1 year ago
Reply to  VZSpyder

But how do you do Android Auto, Apple Carplay, and/or navigation without a touchscreen?
I agree that climate controls and most other things should be buttons that you can learn to operate by feel, but there’s some things where the flexibility of the touchscreen is vital.

There’s a settings menu in my 2012 Prius v accessible when in Park to change the headlamp delay after shutting it off, whether it locks when you shift from park, and a couple other settings like that. Touchscreens are the ideal approach to those settings, because they’re infrequently accessed. It’s better than having separate buttons for them, or not having access to them at all.

I might add, a relative’s 2014 Sienna has one of those tiny separate backup camera screens and it’s uselessly tiny.

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
1 year ago
Reply to  VanGuy

I do not require Android Auto, Apple Carplay or any of that stuff. My phone does navigation perfectly well.
Not sure how to incorporate a backup camera, but I have never owned a car with one and I guess I will survive without it in the future as well (or at least until 25-year-old Japanese cars start featuring backup cameras).

VanGuy
VanGuy
1 year ago
Reply to  Vetatur Fumare

My phone does navigation fine, but my car seems like it was perfectly designed with no good place to hold the phone. I’m not obstructing any windows with an adhesive holder; the cupholder requires taking my eyes off the road momentarily for how low and in it is; the vent holder blocks some of the indicator lights on the dash. It’s a big part of why I want to upgrade in the first place.

I’m not a fan of backup cameras myself (I will always prefer proximity sensors) but since backup cameras are mandated since 2018….

Still, I get where you’re coming from.

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