Do you prefer big-screen dashboard or the view through the windshield?

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windshield
A view through my windshield from my recent New Year's Day drive | Larry Edsall photos
Byton unveils its M-Byte SUV and projects on a big screen an image showing the vehicle’s 48-inch dashboard video screen

You may not have heard of Byton, but you will. It’s a Chinese car company that plans to start production in the few months of its electric-powered M-Byte crossover utility vehicle. The company’s factory in Nanjing has a capacity to roll out 300,000 units a year, each offering a range of around 300 miles on a full charge and with a target price when they come to the United States of $45,000. 

But what will get all the attention is the M-Byte’s dashboard, a 48-inch wide, curved-screen video display panel that runs the vehicle’s full width, door panel to door panel.

That’s not a typo. The screen is 48 inches wide, and can provide everything from sports scores to stock market reports to GPS directions to a cinema mode for watching movies.

The M-Byte production-ready prototype was officially unveiled earlier this week in Las Vegas during the press preview days for CES, formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show. The Consumer Technology Association’s annual trade show officially opens January 6 and runs through the 10th and, like SEMA, overflows the ginormous Las Vegas Convention Center as well as several other Vegas venues.

One reason for Byton’s supersized screen on wheels is that, “life comes to a standstill when driving a car,” at least that’s what Byton’s chief executive said. 

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People “need to be connected,” he explained, adding that in today’s world and on tomorrow’s roads, data power is more important than horsepower.

Could he be more wrong?

And yet he’s not alone. Other executives said similar things, including such things as the interior of a car should be used for work or entertainment. These executives made no mention of the enjoyment many of us find simply in the act of driving.

For many of us, time spent grasping a steering wheel is anything but a waste (and for some of us it’s an opportunity to analog, to disconnect from the connected digital world). 

I’ll take the view through the windshield, please

Would you rather watch digitally cloud-connected images projected on a wide screen or enjoy the actual and wide-angle view through the windshield?

Several executives we heard during press days explained how driver aids can make us better drivers and the roads safer for all. Some admitted that fully automated travel in passenger cars isn’t going to happen anytime soon. And some apparently even enjoy the act of driving.

As Mercedes-Benz’s young and Swedish-born chairman Ola Kallenius noted, his company remains committed to its more than century-old belief that people like cars because they love the freedom “to go where they want when they want.”

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Larry – the ultimate in distracted driving if it doesn’t retract. Amen to analog driving: My old 2002 Silverado short bed with stick shift much more fun to drive than the 2018 Silverado. Difficult to back up at night from the screen glare and old gear heads like me got by just fine without a rearview camera. More technology and stuff I do not need. Note the 2002 remains in the family and my son is now the owner :>)

  2. As a Driver for over 50 Years, I would NEVER trade a View Through The Windshield, for a Screen, it Does’nt Matter How Big that Screen Is.

  3. Sony also just came out with its automotive vision of the future at CES, and also believes drivers need screens and screens and menus of distraction. If so, Gen Zs are in for a bumper car ride up the NJ Turnpike or Washington, DC’s now ridiculous Beltway. As for me in Washington traffic, I don’t want to hit a Millennial on a scooter, and will try just to stay a bit alert.

  4. This latest rollout from Nanjing-based Byton is the latest iteration in an Asian market hyper-wed to technological innovation that their increasingly young and affluent markets are demanding….it is also instructive that all of this "gizmo-itis" as I refer to it can be understood within the local Mainland Communist Chinese market that for millenia has been harshly supressed and taxed into abject submission; combined with the fact that individualism is, indeed, a very recent concept…and something that can be equated to a heroin high for an emerging, increasingly hip and connected youth culture.
    While there are those screen-wed younger Americans, as well, I also think that American collector car culture is principally dedicated to preserving an older, distinctly analog-style approach…the very idea of a multi-function screen blocking a good share of my forward view; combined with automated response is anathema to MY idea of individuality…I rue the day that self-driving cars become the "norm"…there’s nothing, and I mean NOTHING "normal" about it…
    As others have indicated, the joy of driving an isolated stretch of highway in a simple carburated car or truck is a way of escaping our increasingly tech-heavy reality…in this case "less" is definitely "more"…

  5. I was a technology teacher for 30 years and retired 20 years ago.The kids knew more than I did.
    I own a 1966 Morgan and a 2019 MINI Copper. In will take the simple" electronics" in the Morgan any day over the over loaded MINI.

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