Infotainment is a catch-all term that covers a whole gamut of car technology. The word ‘infotainment’ is a contraction of ‘information’ and ‘entertainment’, which accurately conveys the purpose of an infotainment system.
Such systems are most often controlled either by a mouse-style system with a controller mounted between the two front seats, or through a large central touchscreen.
In some cases, the system can be further configured by the driver through a small screen mounted between the dials in the instrument binnacle, and using buttons mounted on the steering wheel.
First, lets have a look at the information side of things. There is virtually no end to the information that can be displayed. Family and executive cars tend to give data such as instant fuel consumption, average fuel consumption, average speed, range to refuel, and the temperature outside the car.
Higher-end vehicles have infotainment systems that come with various settings for the suspension, accelerator and steering.
These are most often in ‘modes’ called ‘Comfort’, ‘Normal’ or ‘Sport’, and adjust the firmness of the suspension, sharpness of the throttle and weight of steering to the driver’s preferred setting.
Some high-end sports cars display in-depth data about the car’s behaviour, including g-force generated during cornering, braking and acceleration, rate of pitch and yaw, and even acceleration times.
The entertainment side of the system is becoming evermore complex, with some systems allowing you to receive DAB radio or connect a music player using either Bluetooth or a USB connection.
You can also plug in an external DVD player, receive television signals, and connect your mobile phone. Some high-end set-ups have screens that allow passengers to watch a movie while the driver can see a sat-nav map – on the same screen at the same time. Many luxury cars also come with internal wifi hotspots.
Finally, most systems will now contain a satellite-navigation set-up, to help you get where you need to go, while helping you to avoid traffic jams.