Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


PRESERVATION OF hair on the top of my head was one reason for my choosing a Honda Crosstour . See “2012 Honda Crosstour,” Another reason that continues to satisfy is this car’s lack of touch screen controls.

My Crosstour’s center console has a collection of old-fashioned buttons. Its large display supports the nav system and a multitude of other functions, with nary a touch screen.


I prefer my 2012 Honda Crosstour’s tactile approach of genuine buttons as opposed to the virtual analogs of touch screens.

Why am I such a Luddite about touch screens? And what’s a Luddite anyway?

Merriam-Webster defines a Luddite in the broad sense as one who is opposed to technological change. I amplify with a quote from The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford University, 1971 (see “Fiascoes, Shambles, Havoc and Hubbubs,”

“According to Pellew’s Life of Lord Sidmouth, 1847, Ned Ludd was a person of weak intellect who lived in a Leicestershire village about 1779, who in a fit of insane rage rushed into a stockinger’s house [where woolen stockings were woven], and destroyed two frames so completely that the saying ‘Ludd must have been here’ came to be used throughout the hosiery industry when a stocking frame had undergone extraordinary damage.”

Ned Ludd

Ned Ludd exhorts his followers to industrial revolutionary mayhem.

“The story lacks confirmation,” the OED notes, and so much for George Pellew. However, the OED continues, by 1811 the term Luddites came to describe organized bands of English workers intent on destroying industrial machinery. Their leader was a fictitious Captain or King Ludd.

I’m tempted to ask how anyone came up with the name, but who am I to question the OED?

Now let the calendar pages fly past two centuries to today and my Honda Crosstour. I am a Luddite with regard to touch screens in a car for a simple reason: A car is often in motion.

To touch a precisely defined—but virtual—field on a display screen is more difficult in a moving vehicle than it is in a stationary setting. By contrast, an actual button, as opposed to a virtual one, is a much easier target for one’s motor memory, even if the vehicle is jiggling about a bit.

It appears I’m not alone in my dislike of vehicular touch screens. In the December 15, 2014, issue of Automotive News, an article titled “Ford Seeks Infotainment Middle Ground” describes the automaker’s MyFord Touch system being phased out in 2016 models in favor of a simpler system called Sync 3.

MyFord Touch is a Microsoft development; Sync 3 comes from Blackberry. Alas, both use touch screens, though Sync 3 is said to address customer loathing of MyFord Touch.

And loathing it was. Introduced in 2011 model year, MyFord Touch and its MyLincoln equivalent helped precipitate a drop in the company’s J.D. Power Initial Quality Study from top of the heap in 2010 down to 23rd in 2011.

In 2012, Consumer Report summed it up by reporting that MyFord Touch “stinks.” It went on to say its testers “wouldn’t recommend dealing with the frustrations of MyFord Touch on a daily basis even to an adversary.”



Above, MyFord Touch. Below, Sync 3. A significant change is the latter’s larger fields for touch screen actuation.


CR agrees with my view: “Sync 3 looks like a big improvement, but it’s hard to say how easy it is to use without trying it when driving.”

I would suggest as well that the drive take place on other than a smooth road. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2015   

3 comments on “A LUDDITE’S VIEW?

  1. Ivan Berger
    January 8, 2015

    My Pioneer nav/stereo has a touch screen, but with only one “button” (to activate voice control) that you really need to touch while driving–and that button is always in a corner of the display, where you can find it easily by touch. Not always the same corner–lower left when the display is in map mode, upper right when it’s in entertainment mode–but since the two screens look totally different, you can tell at a very quick glance which mode you’re in. Come to think of it, you needn’t even glance–if one corner doesn’t work, just try the other. Buttons you need often, such as volume and tuning, are physical rocker switched.

  2. Ivan Berger
    January 8, 2015

    Sorry for the typo: physical rocker switches.

  3. toby tuttle
    January 10, 2015

    Dennis,just as Michael J. fox is the anti-Elvis (according to Mojo Nixon). That makes your bloaty Honda the anti-Morgan…

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This entry was posted on January 8, 2015 by in Driving it Today and tagged , , , , , .
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