Case In Point: THX on Wheels
Driving the Audio System
The user interface is designed around two very different interaction modes. The first one is a fairly familiar touch screen paradigm. It’s fairly straightforward to navigate, but there are multiple nested levels you have to dig into to get to some of the more obscure settings (like enabling 5.1 for stereo music.)
The other interaction mode is voice recognition, designed around Microsoft’s SYNC speech recognition interface, which was specifically designed for cars. Although you theoretically don’t have to train the interface to your voice, you’ll probably want to – most of the results when I tried to use voice without training were pretty comical. The other problem with SYNC is the same as with the touch interface – you have to drill deep through a menu structure, using a fairly limited vocabulary.
As with many modern automobiles, this system can handle digital music. Embedded in the system is a 10GB hard drive; you can insert a CD and press the red “record” button and rip the CD onto the Lincoln’s embedded drive.
Alternatively, you can just plug in your own digital music player. Inside the center console is a smart USB port. You can connect in iPhone / iPod or Microsoft Zune and get full access to all your music.
We’re not going to dive into the other tech features, but it’s worth noting the integration between the GPS Nav system and Sirius Satellite radio, the automatic parallel parking feature and the adaptive cruise control. The latter is pretty cool – just set your cruise control speed on the freeway, and the onboard radar adjusts your speed automatically depending on the distance of the cars around you. Don’t go to sleep, though – you still have to steer.