Tech Feature Friday: 2012 Jaguar XJL Portfolio Rear Seat Cinema
The big Jag impresses with a rear-seat entertainment system that’s a cut above, plus room to stretch out.
Rear-seat entertainment systems are so 20th-century. Even the concept of bringing DVDs into the car seems old-school when you can have video content loaded onto, say, an iPad -- or access it on demand from the cloud if you have a data connection.
I’m therefore usually unimpressed by a car with a couple of screens in the front-seat headrest, with the requisite wireless headphones and remote. But the system in the 2012 Jaguar XJL Portfolio is different. Not by a lot, mind you, but just enough to make it a cut above most rear-seat entertainment systems -- which is what one should expect from a $90,000-plus luxury car.
The cool LCD touch-screen remote rocks, and is a huge reason for the system's success. It snaps into a dock in the rear-seat armrest to not only store, but also charge. This way, you never have to worry about changing the batteries -- or digging it out from underneath the seat. It's an attractive little gadget compared with other boring black-box remotes, and it’s also intuitive to use. Instead of confronting you with a bunch of tiny buttons, it simply presents you with two entertainment options: “I Want to Watch …” and “I Want to Listen …”
Hit either one of those options and you can then choose between watching a DVD loaded in the in-dash disc player or video from an auxiliary source (such as video content on an iPhone or other device), or you can privately listen to any other audio source in the car over the wireless headphones. Most rear-seat entertainment systems let you do this, too, but the big Jag's LCD touch-screen remote makes it effortless and adds a few new features.
You can access radio station presets, input the frequency of a station you want to listen to and change the radio band.
The system also supposedly allows access to content on a connected iPod. I say "supposedly" because it didn’t work with my iPhone 4 (although the phone did work with the in-dash touch-screen and played over the audio system).
You can even fine-tune the settings of the remote, determining how long it stays lit and whether it emits confirmation beeps.
Of course, the driver can also control the system from the in-dash touch-screen -- and that too is intuitive.
But the best part: riding in the back seat of the XJL. I thought I’d never say this, because I usually prefer the driver’s seat. But with all the legroom that the XJL provides, the soft leather seats and side and rear sunshades and the entertainment system, I could get used to being a back-seat passenger.
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