Stream vids to your laptop ON A PLANE ... but prepare to pay
Bring your own screen along
American Airlines is to start offering to stream video to passengers' own kit, as long as that kit is a laptop computer and the passenger doesn't mind paying for the experience.
The service offers 100 movies and TV shows, priced at $4 and $1 respectively, which can be streamed during flights on the airline's entire fleet of 767 (domestic) aircraft. The service is managed by Gogo, and even lets passengers take the end of the film with them after they've landed.
It's that Digital Rights Management mechanism which limits the service to laptops, but it also allows passengers to continue watching after landing – TV shows get an additional 72 hours, films are available for only 24.
Gogo already provides Wi-Fi connectivity to a number of airlines, including American, at a rate reflective of the cost of the satellite back-haul used, but both companies are keen to emphasis that film-watching punters won't be expected to shell out for their Wi-Fi access too – that's an entirely separate, and separately billed for, service.
Gogo also provides connectivity for tablets and smartphones, to the point of offering a dedicated client for iPhone and Blackberry devices, but neither of those will be able to watch films for a while.
It has always seemed strange to squint at a seat-back screen while having a much-better display stowed in the overhead locker, not to mention the lack of wide screen on fitted screens makes viewing even harder (we'll never forget sitting through "TARGAT" on an in-flight monitor).
Having said that, balancing a laptop in economy isn't easy, and we're not looking forward to the day when we're all expected to carry our screens with us onto flights – weight allowance permitting. ®
Don't use a laptop in economy...
I saw a chap sitting across the isle working on his laptop on the little tray when the person in front of him put the seat back down. The tray catch hit the top of his screen and squished it down into the tray cracking his screen... he was not a happy bunny...
I've said this for a long time
I've been saying for a long time that airlines ought to stream content from a local (i.e. on the plane) server to the passengers. The cost of a server that could do so is minimal, both in terms of dollars (a small CPU and a 100G drive would have done it years ago, now a small CPU and a 1T drive) and in terms of weight (far more important to the airlines).
1) the movie industry will insist upon Digital Rights Denial at every step of the way.
2) The airlines will insist upon "monetizing this new source of demand"
And I will ask this question: with 32G microSD cards, 1T laptop drives, and so on, why restrict yourself to what the airline sees fit to distribute? Just load your media up on whatever device(s) you see fit to use and move on.
...why do I want this when the in-flight entertainment is just fine? Oh wait, they'll cut that off and force you to buy this DRM infected shit. Sod that, I'll bring my own.
... that's what I don't get about this, I could pay money to watch movies on my laptop, whilst on a flight or...... I could just preload the device, pay nothing and watch whatever I choose to load up my device with.
All well and good
Except that usually in economy there's nowhere to plug it in to charge it...