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Is having a giant screen really a good design?

Try to divorce your love of Tesla and the green movement for a second and see if this makes sense. Do we really want a giant screen to distract us from the task of driving, now you might have heard "studies" about how it doesn't but think about it, would anyone admit to being distracted while driving that caused an accident? How can you prove this...very difficult. Most drivers would probably take blame for this because of their love of Tesla.

Having buttons and nobs might be old school but it's more tactile and often allows you to keep your focus on the road knowing exactly where the volume button is, or the sunroof. Having a giant screen forces you to look at the screen, tap several times to get to your location, then tap or slide your finger on a precise location, or tap multiple times to adjust volume or setting. With buttons its a push or turn for the same task, having a giant screen could take several more steps taking your attention away from the road.

It doesn't take much to cause an accident, a young child darting out onto the road, a driver running a red light. Most of the demos are done while the cars are stationary, if you're a passenger would you feel at ease knowing the driver's attention is not on the road? worse if the driver's alone he'll have a higher chance of an accident, at least if you're a passenger you can help.

I understand it's more convenient to have a computer to control all aspects of the car, having over the air updates to add additional features is great, I'm glad the Tesla S is the safest car ever tested because somehow I have a feeling it's going to need to be one day for some unlucky owner.

All the features on the screen can be accomplished in the steering wheel except for internet and home link

Yes, nearly all of the controls can be accessed on the steering wheel, but I find it easier and faster to access many of them on the touch screen. The scroll wheel just isn't that precise.

I'm with jonbones on this one; I miss my Mazda 6 that was quite intuitive for finding your controls without taking your eyes off the road. Better than than Model S and my BMW X1.

Touch screen or buttons and keypad, iPhone or Blackberry. Blackberry had 49% market share of smart phone in 2007 and down to 1% this year. That should give you some idea what people prefer.

Poor Blackberry.

Why assume a big screen is more distracting than a bevy of switches, buttons and indicators? The size of the touchscreen aids readability and it's much easier to parse on the fly. Very little hunt and peck, as there is on my ICE. Most of the common functions, like setting and confirming a destination or making a phone call, are far easier (and, therefore, safely executed) in my Tesla.

It is a matter of how one is used to a design. Because most ICE autos are designed with buttons, people are used to them. However, even if the later model of luxury ICE autos have replaced small screen for GPS or other functions with bigger screen and have promoted that change as an improvement. I do not think that MS giant touch screen will cause more distraction than operating buttons in an ICE auto when you are driving.

I found a similar thread on the Internet from 1930 with the same argument for not putting AM radios in cars. Give it up, and at least move on into the current century. :-)

well, people aren't supposed to be using the touchscreen while driving in the first place. But it's still much less distracting than Mercedes' interface where you have to move the cursor with the little scroll. On the Tesla, you just glance and tap. at any rate, please drive responsibly and use common sense and your best judgement.

Yes almost all modern cars have touch screen navigation system with small hard to see touchscreen.

yes, it's a great design.

A driver can be distracted by anything, don't play with the screen while you are driving. use the thumbwheels on the steering wheel. use some common sense. Anyone can do stupid things in a car, screen or not. The UI in the Tesla is one of the best, more natural, intuitive there is, and the huge screen is part of what makes it a great 21st century car!

By choosing to show whatever you use most, and where to show it, I find it much more intuitive!

Seems much less distracting and more intuitive than many european designs like the BMW iDrive where numerous glances away from the road are needed to accomplish a simple task.

Part of the problem is, you need to know when you can and when you can't use the screen. For instance, what if I'm a passenger and my wife is driving (this happens quite often). I could be entering a destination to the navigation system while she's driving.

Now, one of the reasons I'm scrapping my Lexus for a Tesla is the fact that on my Lexus, I can't do anything with the navigation system while the vehicle is in motion. Moreover, when I complained (the dealer lied about this limitation) they were completely unwilling to fix the problem, compensate me for the fraud they committed, or in any other way address it.

Want to see how many people want access to a big touchscreen? Go to

The point is, it's often safe to use and the driver can decide when that is and when it isn't. And it is quite often safe for a passenger to use as well.

It comes down to this. We, as drivers, are ultimately responsible for the safe operation of our vehicles.

Some people claim that using a cell phone (even with a hands-free device) is distracting. The problem with that is, by the same definition, so is talking to the person sitting next to you, the children in the backseat, or listening to the radio. There is a point where we have to give up some safety for practicality.
I'm not saying to be reckless, I mearly saying that there's a point where you can take safety to extremes that are impractical. We could, for instance, limit the speed of the vehicles to, say… 55 mph. How many people would buy that car?

With one large screen with 4 sections that replaces the stack in most cars so much more of the controls are available and always in the same place so you really don't have to take your eyes off the road to find the control you need. Cars with one small screen with 8 hard buttons down each side that replaces navigation, radio, HVAC, phone, audio and other system settings takes your eyes off the road more often and takes far more brain time to remember which buttons to push to get to the screen that has the controls that you need.

Also the stack design can be changed to improve ease of use and to add controls for future systems an options just by a simple software download.

Like any new exceptional tool, it is all about intelligent use.... End of story; end of thread...

Is it a good idea/design? Yes. I'd suggest trying it before criticizing it., Exactly!

It was a bit distracting/entertaining when I first got my S but I find it is less so now. It is a great feature and I am sure that you will see it on many other manufacturers cars moving forward.

Not distracting in the least. Have the Tesla clock on the top half (don't personally fixate on the second hand moving) and usually Media in the bottom half - assuming I am not using the Nav. Not much distraction with either - and car controls (HVAC et al) are now second nature to hit and adjust. Delta off standard ICE set-ups for me is now immaterial.

The screen is not distracting at all and is far more intuitive than the cluster-f%#*+# of knobs and buttons I run into with rental cars.
Might be just me but it doesn't appear the OP is a Tesla owner/driver, has not replied and feels more like a troll.

I'm with @hanleym14. We're adults here. Tesla treats us like adults, we should act like adults.

@SBerg, I havn't responded because the post was put up only a few hours ago but here's my response. Seems there are 2 camps, those who are in love with their Model S or Elon Musk and will overlook any shortcomings the car might have and to those, no matter what anyone says, they will not and can not change your pov so I won't even try and good luck with your automobile.

For the rational few who read this, I'm not proposing they get rid of the giant screen at all, I think it has many merits, all the obvious ones such as readability, updates, intuitiveness, it's all true, however, to think people won't use the giant touch display simply because of the 2 small instrument clusters at the wheel is naive. Most of the smaller functions like volume you can probably control with the steering wheel but for most other features like climate control, air conditioning, sunroof, media, navigation, especially the navigation.

For those who've compared the smartphone trend to the Model S, you're not going 80 mph walking down the street with your iPhone, and many still prefer the tactile feel of keys for typing. I'm merely suggesting perhaps Tesla could add a few dedicated buttons along with the touch screen.

Yes the screen is divided into 4 sections allowing you to mix and match the areas to your desire, and this meas an adjustable UI, and some of you are saying that's even easier than to have SOME fixed buttons when the controls don't even stay the same place... that's a funny argument to me. Some even mentions about rental cars... which is plain absurd.

It's not only about "intelligent use" most accidents are caused beyond your control, you could be the best driver but a short distraction is that's needed. Being spacially aware of your surroundings and using defensive driving takes concentration. Look, no one is suggesting they dumb it down to knobs and switches, I'm merely wondering if there was a better compromise or is this the perfect and only way to design the control panel.

Don't forget the full web browser and keyboard...I'm sure every single Tesla driver won't be using that while driving or are so intelligent as to use it in such a way they can never ever be distracted if for a moment.

...hold off you know what lets throw a rear facing camera in there also in case I want to see who's driving BEHIND.

No offense
But what a silly thread....
It is what it is....
If you don't like it buy something else

@celtrog what a silly post, if you don't like the thread don't contribute to it.


First, you acknowledge there are "studies" that debunk you premise, but choose to pursue it anyway...seems a bit odd.

Second, as several of the threads on this forum show, people are more than happy to throw their Tesla, TM, Elon and pretty much anything else under the bus instead of taking responsibility for their actions.

As with anything, a large display is not inherent good or bad, it depends on the designers and who good they are. Personally, I like the Tesla approach because it eliminates the visual clutter and allows me to pick only the things that are important to me and eliminate the rest.

I also find the MS display much more readable (maybe its my older eyes) but with this like the map, its much more readable than the 7" display in amy Jeep, so I spend less time looking at it.

Finally, as other folks have pointed out, I can configure my thumbwheel for most functions--for example, I have my right thumbwheel configured to open and close the sunroof.


@redacted yes adults can never have an accident or be distracted, if you're intelligent and use the UI responsibly, you can never ever be distracted.... right.

Yes, it's an awesome design. It's up to individuals to not do something stupid like try to type in an address while driving 60 miles an hour just as it is dumb to surf the web on your phone while driving or something.

In terms of the normal car stuff, like turing on climate control, etc, it's really no different than other cars in terms of distraction factor.

@omarsultan Do you believe studies tell you the whole story? have you investigated any of them or choose to believe every study you read...

There are those who will throw people under a bus and there are those who will also worship the very ground Musk walks on like Jesus Christ the savior, you have people from both sides.

That's fine if you love the UI design, but its not about the UI or design, you're missing the whole point, it's that its a potential distraction to some, not saying everyone as each individual is different, some are capable of multitasking some aren't. If you're one of those multitaskers then good for you. I hope you'll never be distracted enough to have an accident, but it's not inconceivable to think there are others who might not be so lucky and can't multitask or program their steering wheel, when VCR's came out some couldn't set the time on those things so, should we tell all of those they can't buy a Tesla or are you going to be high and might and say well that's the way it is if you don't like it don't buy it we're not changing it.

The answer is YES. Just rented a Ford today. There were no less than 2 dozen switches and buttons . . . and the functionality was befuddling. I LONGED for that big simple touch screen on my Model S.

After three months of driving the car, I find the big screen o be nearly invisible to me. I have the bottom half with energy use and the top half with media. I don't really use it to play while I'm driving, who would? Driving the car is too much fun! Navigation on the screen is distracting so I use it on the left side of my dash, which gives me a nice 3-d picture which I find more useful. I do use the big screen for setting my charging, which is done in my garage so danger there. I set up my list of music to play before I get on the road, so no distraction or danger there. If I come to a song I want to skip I just toggle on my steering wheel, no distraction because it's all done by feel. No sane person would drive and surf the net, that would cause accidents, give people some credit in this regard. A lot of people worry about the interior being more complicated and therefore distracting, I find it to be just the opposite, easy to use and not distracting to me. Passengers think its really cool, but that wears off quickly.

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