Vehicle technology in cars has progressed at an enormously fast rate in the last few years. As phones become smarter and tablets take over from laptops, vehicle manufacturers more and more are looking at ways in which these relatively new technologies might be used to benefit their customers too.
Resultantly, Audi has come up with their very own tablet computer. Aimed at bringing new possibilities of networking between car, driver and the world wide web.
The Audi Smart Display features a 10.2 inch full-HD screen, housed in a brushed aluminium frame with WLAN and the fast Nvidia Tegra 4 processor for speed, running a modified Android operating system. These specifications put the device on a par with many current tablets, which is no bad thing as Audi haven’t skimped by using last years already outdated technology. The device was first shown at the Las Vegas held CES 2014.
The tablet can help access and operation the car’s infotainment system, but its capabilities extend far beyond this as you’d expect for a high powered tablet device. Connecting to the car is done by using a secure WLAN interface. While on the move, passengers are able to use the tablet to view the car’s operating status plus control the radio, media and navigation systems.
Touted as the next big thing in automotive technology, LTE or 4G as we know it in the UK is offered thanks to the Nvidia Tegra 4 processor. Essentially it is simply faster internet, but as the speeds can potentially be much faster than 3G, the idea is that more and more ‘instant’ data can be pulled from the internet, so ‘sat nav’ destinations and the like may be more up-to-date than previous offline offerings which may have been stored for years and gone out of date. The reliance on the internet is all well and good, but it is still just that. Areas which are not yet 4G enabled, of which there are many, won’t be able to take advantage of the faster speeds.
The Audi tablet then, is really just a tablet like any other but with a few additional goodies that make it interoperable with your Audi vehicle. To that end, the full Google Play Store is available so you can use the tablet in the home as you might any other, regardless of the car connectivity solutions. We feel this is a good step by Audi as it means users are more likely to use it as their main device, rather than alongside another they may already own.
Among the other advantages of the tablet is the on-board storage which may be used for audio and video. Users of in-car entertainment will know that it is often the case where kids have missed out on seeing the ending to a film they might have been watching in the back of the car. With the Audi tablet, users can resume the film in the living room, having left the vehicle after reaching their destination.
The Smart Display features Bluetooth, NFC (near field communication) and an inbuilt microphone and speakers, so that a variety of apps and appliances can be used with it. For example, the sound from it can be linked to the car’s audio sound system or Bluetooth headsets for a quieter alternative. Likewise, the integrated camera and microphone can be used for Skype or similar video calling software available in the Android marketplace.
The Audi Smart Display has been developed for use in cars and as such is a little more robust than other tablets. It is said to be crash proof and able to withstand extremes of temperature.
All in all, the Audi tablet is a good idea and one which we expect other manufacturers to follow. Given the current trend and sales figures of tablets around the world, Audi is likely onto a good thing introducing their own. It is effectively a current generation tablet like many others, running on the Nvidia Tegra 4 processor. What it can offer over other tablets with the same or similar performance which also run Android is a question mark in our minds. If Audi’s apps are able to be run on any Android tablet then it will be hard to warrant purchase of the Audi Smart Display over a competing brand who already has a solid history in the tablet market and which will likely be cheaper. In essence, there are currently not enough advantages that set the Audi Smart Display apart from any other Android Tablet. Price (which is yet to be detailed) is ultimately what will be the deciding factor as to whether or not the Audi Smart Display is a worthwhile optional extra.