What is infotainment?

Infotainment explained: sat-nav, hands-free phone and radio in one

BuyaCar team
May 18, 2018

The word infotainment may have joined the American lexicon in the Eighties, but it's weaseled its way into the interior of cars now too. Infotainment (information and entertainment merged together) combines car-related information like MPG, with entertainment such as radio.

It's usually fed to you via a touch-sensitive screen that's similar to an iPad, and is controlled via a series of buttons, or a control wheel which is easier to use when driving as you don't need to look at the buttons and take your eyes off the road.

Such systems vary in the amount of information and entertainment they offer. However, as a rule, a basic system offers control of the radio and other in-car entertainment sources (such as devices plugged in via USB and sometimes a choice of apps). It should also enable wireless Bluetooth connection and phone operation.

Some manufacturers like Mini and Ford offer systems that will read out text messages that you receive or even Facebook updates. You've got the option of replying or liking the updates by dictation, using voice control

Some infotainment systems recognise phone-pairing services such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which replicate your phone's display on the dashboard, so you can operate your phone easily.

Higher up the price scale, an infotainment system should have a sat-nav and, if the car has a rear-view camera, display its images to aid parking and reversing.

Screen sizes differ but tend to be larger, brighter and bigger, That makes them easier to see and use but there's increasing concern that they can distract drivers.

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