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Airbus A380-800: an airborne treat for gadget fans

Tech heaven at 37,000ft

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I’m writing this sitting in a Singapore Airlines double-decker Airbus A380 bound for the carrier’s home city. We’re at 35,320ft and I’m up in tech heaven.

I have my Eee PC 900 open in front of me, its meagre battery being kept topped up from the power socket in the armrest to my right. My iPhone is sitting on the fold-out table next to the Eee — it’s being charged from the USB port to the right of the large, crisp, decent-resolution seat-back LCD.

There’s a light under the screen that, when activated, provides illumination for my keyboard. If the Eee had a video input, I could hook it up to the TV-out port next to the seat-back display and watch the in-flight flicks on my laptop’s screen. Not that it’s worth it in this case — the seat-back screen is larger than the one on the Eee.

If I’d remembered my Ethernet cable — not something I usually take when travelling — I could link my laptop up to the network port next to the USB and TV-out. There’s nothing in the manual about networking, but it would have been fun to sniff around and see what’s connected.

Now, in case you think I’m laid back in some swanky business class booth on some vendor-sponsored junket, let me tell you this is me, next to my partner and offspring, on our way on holiday flying economy. All this stuff is standard in coach class on this bird.

Lord knows what the folk in the fancy seats upstairs have got to play with. Certainly, extra USB ports, RCA jacks and video-in connectors, according to the entertainment guide.

A souped-up seat would also allow me to play the songs on my iPod through the entertainment system. As it stands, my seat can display pictures, PDFs and navigate the files I’ve got stored on a USB stick or hard drive, digital camera or PMP if I had any of these plugged into the system’s USB port.

You can view and edit Office documents too, thanks to the in-flight rig’s inclusion of OpenOffice.

Yes, the entire entertainment system — films, music, games, flight path map, the works — is based on Linux. I know this for a fact — I watched it boot up in verbose mode. It’s Red Hat, in case you were wondering.

If you haven’t brought a laptop with you, there’s a micro Qwerty keyboard on the back of the remote control.

All I’m missing here is an internet connection, so I’ll have to post this when I arrive in Singapore.

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