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19th of January 2018

Gadgets



Taking the Range Rover Velar's Dual Touch Screens for a Spin

2018 Range Rover Velar

Automakers are in the tough position of simultaneously trying to deliver the tech features that consumers crave while also ensuring that in-dash electronics are intuitive and don't distract drivers. Luxury brands have the additional challenge of having to attract buyers with cutting-edge dashboard designs that are often a bellwether for trends that trickle down to less-expensive vehicles.

That's why the infotainment interface in the all-new 2018 Range Rover Velar mid-size SUV stands out—and could set an important precedent. The Velar's Touch Pro Duo interface consists of dual 10-inch touch screens, with infotainment functions managed by the top screen and climate and vehicle controls on the bottom.

2018 Range Rover Velar

Both touch screens use a thin capacitive polycarbonate surface and an optical bonding process that allows for a curved surface that helps eliminates reflections and doesn't require a frame, creating a unique and elegant appearance. But the bottom screen's seamless integration into the center console and slick animation is what really sets it apart.

The animation is sensibly only used with Velar's Terrain Response system, which allows dialing in different vehicle dynamics to deal with, say, snow or mud, and shows realistic video-like images of the Velar in each of those settings. The cool graphics are eye-grabbing and let you know at a glance which Terrain Response mode you're in—but are also potentially distracting.

A Sharp Clarity of Graphics

The first thing you notice about the bottom screen is how it seamlessly blends into the Velar's center console thanks to the optical bonding process. It's one the most beautifully designed center stacks and infotainment systems I've seen, and I can easily imagine the design spreading to other vehicles in the same way that Land Rover's Terrain Response system and rotary shifter have been adopted by other automakers.2018 Range Rover Velar

"It allows us to get a sharp clarity of graphics," Gerry McGovern, Land Rover's chief design officer, told me in a recent interview, including the animation effects. He added that the animation could be used in the future for a variety of functions.

"I'm always looking for improvements," McGovern said, "and that will develop as we go on and the display gets better and better." But he acknowledged that the Velar's infotainment system pushes the envelope and the vehicle design team had lots of conversations about how to give drivers the information they need without distracting them.

"In this world of information overload, I think we've got to be careful," he said. "I had ad nauseum conversations with our infotainment people that it should not be distractive. And it shouldn't be intellectually taxing either. But overall I think it's a revelation from what we had before."

I strongly agree, and it's certainly a giant leap from the stodgy infotainment interface designs found on Land Rovers from only a few years ago. The Duo Pro infotainment system is bound to set a new bar in terms of its design and graphics. And it could help Jaguar Land Rover as well as other automakers better balance delivering in-dash tech features with ease of operation and without distraction—as long as the animation is kept to a minimum.

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