by Adrian Dorofte and Adrian Andronic
e-mail: mercedesbenzblog@gmail.com

The new Mercedes-Benz E-Class 2013: Infotainment technology

Navigation, internet connection and media player

A modern range of infotainment systems helps to keep the driver up to date while on the road in terms of what is happening around the world or in the office. The systems also enable music to be enjoyed or also optionally offer powerful navigation solutions as well as an internet connection.

The E-Class Saloon and Estate both come as standard with the Audio 20 CD Radio. It features a twin tuner and mp3-capable CD player as well as a USB connection in the centre armrest. The TFT colour display measures 14.7 cm diagonally. Bluetooth®-capable devices can also be connected, and SMS text messages displayed. Thanks to a "cover art" function, the title images of the music albums currently being played are also shown if their details are stored in the audio file.

Optionally the Audio 20 CD can be combined with a six-disc CD changer as well as the reasonably-priced, entry-level Becker® MAP PILOT navigation solution, which can also be retrofitted. Its advantages over aftermarket solutions include integrated operation via the central controls, voice output via the vehicle's loudspeakers and display on the Audio 20 screen, a concealed location in the glove compartment and updating via an internet portal.

With internet connection, navigation and emergency call function: COMAND Online

Alternatively, Mercedes-Benz offers the COMAND Online multimedia system for the E-Class with 17.8 cm high-resolution colour display, internet connection, hard-disc navigation and emergency call feature, which can also be combined with a six-disc DVD changer. COMAND Online provides internet access enabling customers to surf the web while the car is stationary or call up a Mercedes-Benz app, whose particularly fast page loading and simple operation make it suitable for use while driving. Integrated apps include Google™ Local Search and Weather, Google™ Streetview as well as Google™ Panoramio. In addition, all COMAND Online users have access to a Facebook app.

COMAND Online is operated via what is known as a “COMAND Controller”, located close to the armrest on the centre console. This is the ergonomic position for it, allowing safe operation. The Controller is a high-quality rotary push-button with a galvanised finish, and can be moved intuitively in eight directions. Functions can also be activated or confirmed by turning and pressing it. A user-friendly new control logic for the main menus as well as for the sub-menus, which open up step by step, enables drivers to leaf through the menus safely and in a targeted manner.

COMAND Online comprises the following features:

- FM radio twin tuner with phase diversity and an additional RDS/TMC tuner for traffic information
- entry-level 4 x 25 W audio signal amplifier
- DVD drive for audio and video
- internet access
- integral navigation system with map display (including birdview and a 3D map)
- integrated hard disc for navigation data and additional functions (e.g. music server)
- the LINGUATRONIC voice-operated control system

In addition, COMAND Online also supports the following components:

- sound amplifier
- Media Interface
- DAB receiver (Digital Audio Broadcast)
- TV receiver

The fast hard-disc navigation system of COMAND Online also has added functions. New features include a 3D display with three-dimensional city views. Also new: routes covered can be recorded and repeated later, specific personal destinations can be stored or imported via an SD card. Mercedes-Benz customers in Europe receive the current maps for their COMAND Online multimedia system free of charge for three years.

COMAND Online also includes the LINGUATRONIC voice-operated control system for audio, telephone and navigation. The new "One Shot" input function for the navigation system is particularly convenient, whereby the place and road can be spoken directly after one another. This function is currently available in seven languages and significantly enhances ease of operation. With COMAND Online and LINGUATRONIC, music can also be conveniently searched for in the E-Class via voice control. The system first asks in which category it should conduct the search (artist, title, year). The category is selected by saying it directly or by saying the row number of the relevant category which appears on the screen. This is then followed by further questions about title, artist or album.

New apps for COMAND Online

The range of apps is being constantly expanded: currently there is already a free news app and a Yelp app (in the US version only), and apps for share prices and a car park finder.

- With the news app, the user is always up-to-date with what's happening in the world. Sorted according to categories such as financial or sports news, it always finds the latest news bulletins. They are presented in such a way that they are also easy to read whilst driving too.
- The Yelp app (in the US version only) enables users to search for restaurants from their vehicle, using the social database filled by the Yelp Community. The Yelp app offers a choice according to various restaurant categories, within which it is possible to search for recommendations close to the current position, at the destination point programmed into the navigation system, or at any other specific location.
- The app which searches for car parks calls up the current occupancy of multi-storey car parks in real time, as well as other information such as opening times and charges. The app supplies data in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Once a suitable parking opportunity has been found, the driver can start the navigation to that destination or call the telephone number provided.

Music to suit your personal taste

Where the audio equipment is concerned, too, new types of representation bring a fresh look and more convenient operation. The so-called Cover Flow function, for instance, sorts the title images of the music albums stored in a carousel-like form, so that the driver can leaf through their music collection. The memory for compressed audio files (mp3, wma and aac formats) is now 10 GB in size.

Greatest convenience is afforded by the Music Search function, which enables drivers and passengers to search the hard disc, SD memory cards, USB sticks, CDs and DVDs for specific music tracks and artists. The search can be according to various criteria, for instance album, music category or composer. If a name needs to be entered, the software will also tolerate spelling mistakes. The driver is therefore able to devote their full attention to the traffic. As a further advantage, the occupants are able to search all the connected media and devices simultaneously.

SPLITVIEW – one screen, two programmes

A further highlight of the E-Class is the optionally available screen featuring SPLITVIEW technology, which allows the driver and front passenger to view two different sets of content at the same time. While the driver is checking the navigation instructions, the front passenger can sit back and watch a film on the very same display.

Developed by Mercedes-Benz and Bosch, SPLITVIEW technology makes use of a backlit active matrix colour display (TFT-LCD). This shows two different images simultaneously by placing pixels adjacent to each other. A filter masking the display divides this mixed image in such a way that depending on the seating position, only the pixels making up one or the other image can be seen. As a result, the driver and front passenger can view different programmes on the same screen at the same time.

So as not to distract the driver, a remote control is available for the front passenger. In addition, he can enjoy his personal entertainment programme using headphones. Of course, the front passenger need not dispense with making use of telephone or navigation features, since he is also able to use the display to access all of the information from the COMAND Online control and display system.

Mercedes-Benz emergency call system: emergency services are notified automatically

The Mercedes-Benz emergency call system is also included in combination with the COMAND Online multimedia system available for the E-Class. As long as COMAND Online is connected to a mobile phone, the emergency call system can automatically alert the emergency services within a matter of minutes in the event of a serious accident.

After the airbags or belt tensioners are triggered, the vehicle's exact GPS position and vehicle identification number (VIN) are sent by SMS to a special emergency centre, with positional data also being transmitted using the DTMF method (dual-tone multi-frequency) at the same time. Even if the occupants are unconscious or unsure of exactly where they are because they are on a holiday trip, for example, the emergency services alerted by the emergency centre will be notified quickly with accurate information. The driver can also make the emergency call manually as "MB emergency call" is always the first entry in the system phone directory.

On receiving the call, the emergency centre establishes voice contact with the vehicle occupants in a matter of seconds. A particularly practical aspect in an emergency is that communication takes place not in the language of the country where the accident has occurred but in the language which the driver has preset in COMAND Online.

Other than any mobile phone communication charges, which would only arise in the event of an actual emergency call, no charges are incurred for the emergency call facility and no contractual relationship – other than the regular mobile phone contract – is required.




Credits: Daimler AG

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