My weekend has included an unexpected joy in the form of several late Season 6 episodes of ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’, episodes that I remember watching in college during my shifts at the campus television station.  (We ran commercial bumpers twice an hour and monitored the signal, so there was time to watch other television during the job.  And for this, I got college credit…)  I’ve always been a fan of the flat-panel LCARS touch-screens used in those episodes, to the point where I downloaded an emulator to make a previous laptop look like one, and to this day, I wish that I could get one installed in my Chrysler.  Still, the idea that a power failure would mean a complete loss of control is problematic, and the fact that each terminal seems to be wired with 50 million volts would make cell phones dicey as well, which leads us to today’s futuristic query…

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) might liken it to the difference of opinion between iPhone and Android users, in a way, asking: Which technological style wins the Star Trek-Star Wars battle for you: TNG-style touchscreens or the levers and doodads and dials of the Millenium Falcon?


About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


  1. Malone_hasco on

    I will say it depends. In capital ship with thousands of crew, definitely touch screens and buttons. However, in fighter plane you will want physical feedback to steer properly, so sticks and levers in those.

  2. In this particular example, the levers and doodads of the Falcon. But part of the appeal of that, to me, was how in Expanded Universe and canon material alike, it was often pointed out how the Falcon was a relic. Newer ships had the sleeker tech closer to that of Star Trek, but the Falcon was this beautiful classic ship, like a classic car that has been restored as faithful to the original as possible and custom work where original parts may not have been available.

    Not only is it like a classic car of space ships, it also reminds me of retro sci-fi tech from those old pulp comics and early sci-fi movies where they had similar knobs and levers and big blinking lights and whatever else that makes the retro sci-fi look so distinctive.

  3. Jed Starkiller on

    In a battle I would think physical controls would be better. How many typos are caused by my touch screen?

  4. That’s rather tough, the difference is Star Trek the ships were more like ships of WW1 where it was an hostile engagement between Battleships, and StarWars was more like WW2 they still had battleships but more emphasis was placed on the fighter spacecraft and the carriers and fighter spacecraft taking off from planets much like the Navy Air Corp, (VMF 214 Black Sheep Squadron) did in and around the Salomon Islands etc during WW2.
    Depending on what tech & training, I’d go with physical control. Seen several Star Trek TNG where the scout ship goes down on a away mission the systems go down all the fly by wire you’re looking at a hard landing. Where physical control you may have some controlled crash or the damage to the ship can be still controlled by redundant systems like the A-10 Warthog making it back to base.

  5. I would say touch screens except I’ve never seen the falcon’s consol explode and kill the pilot. So on that basis analog controls are clearly superior.

  6. Oldcomicfan on

    I have to admit that I am a first generation Star Trek fan – watched it during its first run back in the 60’s. That said, I like the Falcon technology better because it is something I can relate to. Star Trek had its first run when computers were the size of rooms and had the power of an analog wristwatch. It always annoyed me when Kirk would manage to outsmart some computer and it would blow up. Or shoot a phaser into a computer and it would blow up. What did they build computers out of in the days of future past? Gunpowder, cellulose, and nitrates? I think the exploding consoles in Next Generation are just the natural extension of this. To anybody whose first car was a 1954 pickup truck he had to work on himself, I can fully appreciate Han having to rip into the guts of the Falcon to patch some fiddly bit or other than has gone gunnybag on him.

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