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LCD Gauges: Et Tu, BMW?

Posted in BMW, Car Tech, Design by Kurt Ernst | May 27th, 2011 | 10 Responses |

The Jaguar XJ's LCD display.

I loved the Jaguar XJ that I reviewed a few months back. After driving the car for a week, I realized that there was very little about it that I’d change: the exception, however, was the car’s LCD instrumentation. It’s not that the gauges weren’t functional (they were), or that they were difficult to read in bright sunlight (they weren’t), it’s just an aesthetic thing. Gauges trimmed in chrome, with precisely painted numbers and a moving needle display can be objects of art; pictures of such gauges, even high res pictures, are not. Ask yourself this: when was the last time you saw a Rolex watch with an LCD dial? How well do you think something like that would sell?

If Autoblog is right, BMW is about to join Jaguar and Land Rover in implementing LCD displays, possibly as an option, on the next generation 5 Series and 7 Series cars. The advantage is functionality, and an LCD instrument display can be re-arranged by mode. In a Sport mode, for example, the tachometer may be featured more prominently, or it may have a higher redline. In an Eco mode, the tachometer may be eliminated altogether, replaced by a fuel economy gauge. There are plenty of reasons why an LCD dash is better from a technology and engineering perspective, but at the expense of personality. Sometimes, a step forward is really a step backwards.

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10 Responses

  1. Marcus- says:

    …love the title. Overall, the lcd guages are much more adverse, and can offer display options not physically possible with standard guages. However, the option to throw a old school tach on the hood is still avaiable…

  2. ASoltes says:

    I agree, My Grandfather was a jaguar person his whole life. His first car to his last were jaguars and he loved them. When i saw that Jaguars premier vehicle was going to have a digital display i know he was rolling in his grave. That just doesn’t seem right, it reminds me of the nasty digital displays of Ford/GM in the 1990’s and early 2000’s

  3. Jeff says:

    The problem isn’t the lcd display itself, its the fact that they try to make it still look like an analog gauge, they’re not embracing the new medium. Don’t just stick photos of real gauges on an LCD screen with a digital needle superimposed, if you’re going to do an LCD, make it inherently digital. a digital display creates virtually unlimited options, i’m disappointed that they aren’t being explored. Some of the late 80’s and early 90’s digital dash layouts were much more innovative than this crap.

  4. Chris says:

    I see your point. What about making it an option but it would come out on the nav control? no?

  5. J D Stadler says:

    Fantastic. Another thing to potentially fail. I’m waiting for the first post when someone’s LCD gauges fall to the blue screen of death or need to “reboot” in the middle of a drive.

    • Kurt Ernst says:

      Jen, the new LCD displays are much more reliable than the digital dashes of the ’80s, but you raise a good point: with analog instruments, you still have a tach if your speedometer quits. If your LCD panel dies, you’ve got nada.

      Personally? The LCD instruments bug the crap out of me, but I’m old school when it comes to stuff like this.

  6. Anthony says:

    That’s hot, but if the battery dies you won’t even know how many miles you have…