Mercedes' Web-Connected myComand Takes on BMW iDrive

Mercedes-Benz new myCOMAND system has appeared at the Los Angeles Auto Show, taking on the fourth-generation BMW iDrive. Whereas the latter has an Xbox 360 feeling, this one gets some clues from Apple, especially Coverflow and the menu navigation, which reminds me of the first version of the Apple TV and Front Row. One big difference is that myCOMAND is connected to the web, grabbing information wirelessly and presenting it through their own on-screen apps. Looking at the high resolution screens and the feature list, it seems very good:

• Off-board navigation: The GPS is constantly updated, from the maps to the points of interests. It also has a satellite overview and the search language is open: you can write directions without having to follow a format. It looks like the are plugging into Google Maps for this one, although I'm not sure how well the writing will work using their navigation knob.

• Trip assist: This part is quite nice, grabbing information pertaining your planned trip from different web sources and presenting it in a useful manner. You can, for example, see the weather forecast for the trip, as well as giving you the possibility to make hotel and restaurants reservations from the system itself.

• World radio: Instead of using a normal radio, this one plugs into the web to access all the stations available. The menu gives the possibility to access radio via genre. More interesting is the idea of storing your music in a web server and accessing it through the system directly, without the need to connect an digital music player or storing things locally.

• Internet telephony: It has support for voice over IP systems like Skype.

• Web browser: They also include a web browser, in case you need to get more information than the one provided with the thin clients above.

• YouTube: For huh... hmmm. Some reason.

The navigation knob, which looks similar to the Powermate, is simpler than the iDrive 4.0. Our Jalopnik comrades will have to try it to see if their user interface approach is better or not. [Mercedes Benz]

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