PewDiePie Lights Up Your Dashboard

I've said it before and I'll say it again. The most innovative developments in home theater won't happen in the home. They'll be in the car. Now, Tesla has announced another incremental step in that evolution: YouTube streaming to your dashboard.

Last month Elon Musk hinted that Tesla would be bringing YouTube streaming to its car touchscreens. This follows earlier announcements that more gaming will be added to the ever-increasing entertainment options in Tesla vehicles. Teslas currently run Version 9 software, released last year; Version 10, expected to be released soon, might add YouTube support. Actually, if the software runs YouTube, it would be trivial to also support other video apps such as Hulu or Netflix.

Now, if you've ever walked down a sidewalk or bicycled in a bike lane, the idea of YouTube-watching drivers may not be appealing. In fact, the number of car-pedestrian and car-cyclist fatalities (you can guess which halves of those duos are the ones being interred) is rising sharply. No car maker currently supports video streaming to its vehicle displays and in fact most countries specifically prohibit video in the line of sight of the driver (video from rear-view cameras are exempted). So how can Tesla add such a feature, and why?

First, Musk assures us that those dashboard distractions will only be available when the car is parked. Second, adding streaming video to Teslas is smart because those drivers must sit around while charging, and giving them YouTube will help them pass the time. Third, and most important, this fits into Musk's long-term strategy to develop comprehensive entertainment options for fully autonomous vehicles. You think it's boring to wait ½ hour while your car is charging? Try sitting in a car while it drives you from NY to LA.

Many of today's factory car audio systems provide excellent fidelity. Tesla's audio systems aren't very good, but as the good systems show up in electric cars, in the relative quiet they provide, the audio quality they deliver will be phenomenal. Throw in a relatively big screen, and you are all set.

First-class in-car entertainment will be a huge market, and a huge selling point for car makers. For audiophiles and videophiles, particularly during those long-haul road trips, with high-quality content, these mobile theaters will be a delight.

jnemesh's picture

I listen to "The Young Turks" every day on my drive home. I keep the video minimized (sometimes I can even get maps to cover the video completely), but listen to the audio over bluetooth while I drive. (I have a YouTube Premium account, which lets me use it in the background while using other apps, like Maps) I wouldn't use it to WATCH anything, but being able to listen to news and/or music while I drive on YouTube is very nice. Maybe Tesla can set it so it will still play audio in the background while driving. Playing in parked mode only is not very useful.

prerich45's picture

This just seems like just another thing to distract a driver. Until all vehicles are self-driven, I'd question the safety of such a product. Cell phones and texting have proven bad enough (I had a close relative lose his life to a woman texting and driving).

John_Werner's picture

Didn't ever think I'd live in a time where Ford no longer made sedans or there'd be Rosie the Robot electric cars...or there would be what we used to call "television" in automobiles. When Stereo Review had a "what's new" like segment back in '72 (?) showing Motorola's first mobile phone I thought it had nothing to do with a good sounding stereo. I was young at 12 admittedly, but I didn't get why an Hi-Fi audio magazine cared about a crazy phone you have to haul around. Yep, I didn't get a lot of stuff that later became part of life's lexicon. I still listen to FM in the "sedan" I drive, but I will admit that mobile phone is the mouse that can roar with amazing fidelity and access to all but the most obscure music I'd ever care to listen to. So that phone article I thought was a waste makes a lot of sense more than 40-years later. I assume somewhere in the future watching TV while you are being driven will make sense. I still like bylines about good old audio gear best though so I guess I'm an audio curmudgeon at this date. That said I always like to read Ken's column and have been doing so since he began in Stereo Review.