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View Poll Results: Your choice?
Floating Infotainment Display 88 27.76%
Integrated Infotainment Head-Unit 229 72.24%
Voters: 317. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 15th June 2021, 22:54   #1
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Default Car Infotainment: Floating Displays vs Integrated Head-Units

Floating Display Infotainment Head-Units vs Integrated Infotainment Head-Units


Car infotainment systems have been around for quite a while now. With time, their placement on the dashboard of the car has changed. At present head-units with large display screens are all the rage. The latest trend in placement of the head-units is the top of the dashboard.

Car Infotainment: Floating Displays vs Integrated Head-Units-2021skodaoctavia01.jpg

Mercedes was one of the first to introduce a display screen that was not integrated into the dashboard in the 2012 A-Class. These “floating” or freestanding head-units either stick out from the top of the dashboard or appear like tablets stuck to the centre fascia. As they are not integrated into the dashboard, they look like an afterthought. Still, with time, the trend seems to be that more and more cars are sporting such infotainment systems.

Car Infotainment: Floating Displays vs Integrated Head-Units-mercedesbenzcla21.jpg

Floating infotainment head-units have their own advantages and disadvantages compared to integrated systems.

Pros of Floating Head-Unit Displays



Safety



Floating screens are positioned higher compared to those built into dashboards. This brings them more in the line of sight of the driver. There is no need to look downwards to adjust any of the functions. The driver can keep his eyes closer to the road at all times. This is particularly useful while using the navigation system where the driver frequently needs to look at the screen.

Car Infotainment: Floating Displays vs Integrated Head-Units-2017tatanexon01.jpg

On the other hand, a screen integrated into the dashboard or centre fascia will mean that the driver needs to look downwards while operating it. That means there will be a small period of time when he is not looking at the road or what’s happening around the vehicle. Needless to say, this is dangerous.

Space management



With time, the number of features being added to cars is increasing. Earlier it was just a cubby hole or a couple of cupholders that featured on a centre fascia of a car. Now, you need suitably large spaces for storing items like smartphones, wireless charging, multiple USB slots, 12V power outlets, climate control systems, switches and buttons to operate various features and more. Since a floating display screen sticks out from the top of the dashboard, it leaves an additional part of the centre fascia free to accommodate other things. Some head-units have even integrated the climate control system and, in the process, freed up even more space on the centre fascia.

Car Infotainment: Floating Displays vs Integrated Head-Units-2019kiaseltos63.jpg

In the case of an integrated head-unit, a lot of space on the centre fascia is consumed. Less room is left for other items compared to freestanding head-units.

Cons of Floating Head-Unit Displays



Design



Looks are subjective. While some might like the display screen sticking out of the dashboard, no one can deny that it looks like an afterthought. In many cases it looks like an iPad or similar tablet has been stuck on to the dashboard as an aftermarket modification. It definitely breaks the flow of the dashboard’s design.

Car Infotainment: Floating Displays vs Integrated Head-Units-2017fordecosport45.jpg

On the other hand, integrated head-units look like they were always meant to be there. You have no doubt that the dashboard was built keeping the head-unit in mind. The design looks unified and complete, with nothing sticking out like a sore thumb.

Car Infotainment: Floating Displays vs Integrated Head-Units-2017vwtiguan02.jpg

Likely to go out of style soon



Many trends stay for a few years and then become outdated and vanish. This is particularly true in the case of electronics & gadgets. We are not sure if freestanding display screens will continue to look good after 15 years or so. They are likely to go out of fashion once the novelty factor wears off, or a newer technology changes the game.

Meanwhile, integrated systems have been around for many years now. They still do not look out of place in a car. They are much more likely to look "right" even after many more years.

Car Infotainment: Floating Displays vs Integrated Head-Units-2016hyundaielantra01.jpg

Last edited by Rehaan : 15th June 2021 at 22:57.
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Old 15th June 2021, 23:01   #2
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Default Re: Car Infotainment: Floating Displays vs Integrated Head-Units

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!


Interesting thread!

The first time i saw a floating display was when we did the Merc A-Class review back in 2013.

I remember first thinking "Wow! A detachable tablet"... only to be sorely disappointed and incredibly perplexed as to how an otherwise incredibly stylish and well put-together car allowed this tablet to be super-glued onto the dashboard as a last minute addition by someone who knew nothing about aesthetics.

After that, my confusion has only grown, especially lately, seeing how many car manufacturers are doing this.

The latest victim being the S-Class, which loses it's beautiful panoramic display, as pictured on this W222 below:


And now gets some kid's skateboard stowed away behind the steering wheel of the W223:
Car Infotainment: Floating Displays vs Integrated Head-Units-mercedessclass2020leak1.jpg
Image source


That said, I absolutely hadn't thought about any of the advantages of the floating displays until I saw your post above.

And I have to say that after reading your points, I do hate these floating displays just a little bit less now...

Last edited by Rehaan : 15th June 2021 at 23:15.
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Old 15th June 2021, 23:18   #3
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Default Re: Car Infotainment: Floating Displays vs Integrated Head-Units

Hmmm... Will depend on the car and execution, I guess. I like the ones in the pics that Aditya posted, but absolutely hate the skateboard pic that Rehaan posted.

So, it depends
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Old 15th June 2021, 23:18   #4
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Default Re: Car Infotainment: Floating Displays vs Integrated Head-Units

Though I like Floating Display head-units more, but still I would choose Integrated head-units.

The other cons of Floating Display head-units I observed were:
1) There are very few Branded aftermarket headunits that are of this type. You'll mainly see their products that are more suited to Integrated ones.
2) I heard that these head-units get hot due to direct sunlight rays falling on the dashboard area. Though I'm yet to come across any instance from users.
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Old 15th June 2021, 23:47   #5
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Default Re: Car Infotainment: Floating Displays vs Integrated Head-Units

Don’t mind either but what is important is their execution, ease-of-use(touch response), and general ergonomics.

Give whatever type to me but I need knobs and physical buttons on it and please keep air-con controls separate. Period. I am looking at you specifically Octavia, a slider for AC and volume controls seriously!! Even Honda learnt the problem in 4th Gen City with the touch controls for the AC and went back to the standard buttons in the 5th Gen.

In a moving car it’s really difficult to turn the volume up and down without a knob. I wouldn’t mind a smaller screen just for the presence of buttons and knobs.

I remember Toyota had the option of kitting both the Innova and Fortuner facelifts with either a 9inch touchscreen without knobs and buttons or a 8inch touchscreen with knobs and buttons, good they went with the latter!

Sometimes with floating touchscreens the central AC vents are pushed very low, rendering them useless when you want a blast of cold air on a hot day, again I am looking at you Octavia.

Last edited by CEF_Beasts : 15th June 2021 at 23:55.
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Old 15th June 2021, 23:51   #6
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Default Re: Car Infotainment: Floating Displays vs Integrated Head-Units

Floating display for the single reason that it is easier and much more convenient to look at while driving. Not just the height, but the tilt angle of the screen also makes it much safer to see compared to a traditional head unit.

I also tend to use magnetic mounts affixed on the dashboard near the AC system to place my mobile, so the extra space given by a dash-top display helps even more.
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Old 15th June 2021, 23:54   #7
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Default Re: Car Infotainment: Floating Displays vs Integrated Head-Units

Didn't vote as this made me super confused. One one hand you have the floating type on the Tesla that looks contemporary and minimalistic. Then there is the integrated type on the Mercedes EQS. I guess it will depend on car to car and how it is executed. However I am not a fan of the floating screen they are using for the dial info behind the steering in the latest S class.

Car Infotainment: Floating Displays vs Integrated Head-Units-touchscreens-tesla-eqs.png
Image source: Google Images.

Last edited by TrackDay : 15th June 2021 at 23:56.
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Old 16th June 2021, 07:49   #8
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Default Re: Car Infotainment: Floating Displays vs Integrated Head-Units

Hated them at the start, but I've warmed up to the floating-style head units. Some of the newer cars have them quite well-integrated. And there is no doubt that it's directly in your line of sight, and it does help the manufacturer with packaging on the centre fascia.

My preference though is still with the "integrated" look. It's just cleaner & more sorted to my eyes.
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Old 16th June 2021, 08:29   #9
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Default Re: Car Infotainment: Floating Displays vs Integrated Head-Units

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aditya View Post
Floating screens are positioned higher compared to those built into dashboards. This brings them more in the line of sight of the driver. There is no need to look downwards
Purely from a safety and ergonomics perspective, the higher mounted displays have my vote. But what is missing in these displays is physical buttons - a non negotiable item in a car that sees the worst of climate changes 24x7.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CEF_Beasts View Post
I need knobs and physical buttons on it and please keep air-con controls separate.
I remember Toyota had the option of kitting both the Innova and Fortuner facelifts with either a 9inch touchscreen without knobs and buttons or a 8inch touchscreen with knobs and buttons, good they went with the latter!
It is fine to have touchscreen but redundancy in the form of physical buttons is paramount. The car that had a judicious mix of both was the 2012-2016 Fortuner and the later Innovas. The touch function in Head units and AC panels in some cars (eg.2017 and later Citys) start dancing after two years, rendering them useless.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
I've warmed up to the floating-style head units; it's directly in your line of sight
BMWs of 2009 and later had the best mix of an integrated display high up, and a hard dial down below to navigate and control.

Some products/features are introduced, become a trend, then vanish, and the old features return. That is true for everything today. The classic round analog clock is a good example - on its way to become a trend again.

Last edited by vigsom : 16th June 2021 at 08:30.
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Old 16th June 2021, 09:41   #10
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Default Re: Car Infotainment: Floating Displays vs Integrated Head-Units

I personally rely heavily on voice navigation, and rarely find the need to take my eyes off the road. However, if I do need to view the route, I would prefer some display near the IRVM because, as a driver, I am already used to that position without losing concentration.
That's why my very first mobile phone holder was one which attached to the IRVM.

Car Infotainment: Floating Displays vs Integrated Head-Units-capdasecarrearviewmirrorholderhr00cc01originalimad55z5gqyt5ahf.jpeg

Purely from the usability perspective, I would opt for HUD units. In my opinion anything which takes the drivers eyes off the road is a safety hazard.

Keeping this in mind I voted for Floating displays, but I agree the integrated ones are more aesthetically pleasing.
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Old 16th June 2021, 10:12   #11
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Default Re: Car Infotainment: Floating Displays vs Integrated Head-Units

I do not have a particular choice regarding integrated vs floating screens so not voting in the poll above.

These systems/screens are just a part of the dashboard. Floating display needs to be designed well and should look to be a part of this design. I like the one in Ford EcoSport while I am not really a fan of the one in Ford Freestyle because of its placement between the AC vents. It looks to have been designed out of compulsion in a location where integrated one would have looked just as good if not better.

Similarly, the one in Jeep compass 2021 looks great and so does the Mercedes ones. The three AC vents below the screen and the overall look of the dashboard is very attractive.

Last edited by PaddleShifter : 16th June 2021 at 10:14.
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Old 16th June 2021, 10:35   #12
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Default Re: Car Infotainment: Floating Displays vs Integrated Head-Units

Floating for me purely for the ergonomics part of it and I don't think they look bad in most cases. I find the positioning of the screen perfect in my Ecosport for navigation. Even the integration is nicely done. Having the display integrated with the dash would mean it would have been placed much lower.

A couple of friends have Vento's / Rapid's and you really need to take your eyes off the road to take a look at the screen

I also prefer the floating display to the Seltos / Sonet style slab connecting the instrument cluster to the infotainment which just looks too bulky. Just check out the international Seltos with the floating display which looks so much better to me.

Last edited by fiat_tarun : 16th June 2021 at 10:36.
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Old 16th June 2021, 10:54   #13
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Default Re: Car Infotainment: Floating Displays vs Integrated Head-Units

Call me ignorant, but all this while I thought floating head units meant you could literally move them around the dashboard

Have never driven a car with a floating head unit but I do use a mobile phone attached to holder almost all the time so I think it would be useful.
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Old 16th June 2021, 12:40   #14
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Default Re: Car Infotainment: Floating Displays vs Integrated Head-Units

Though it mostly depends on how it is done, a floatie will clear up some space on the center console. If the designers knows what they are doing then we can have both huge screens and thousands of buttons at the same time (look at W212 and F10). BMW, Kia, Mahindra (XUV700) and some have done an excellent integration of a floatie on the dashboard and I can live with that (despite preferring more flush traditional in-dash design). But I just can't tolerate the way these floaties are stuck on the dashboard in the entry-level Mercedes options. Looks very aftermarket and cheap and spoils the overall look of such an excellent cabin (especially W205 and X253).
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Old 16th June 2021, 13:00   #15
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Default Re: Car Infotainment: Floating Displays vs Integrated Head-Units

I prefer those neatly integrated ones compared to the floating screens. That said, some of the new floating ones are not bad, I like the massive Tesla tablet and also those in the new Mercedes models.
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