Many moons ago, I starting making and writing about Sickbag based In-Flight Entertainment Systems – or what I called “GhettoIFE Systems”.
A 2014 GhettoIFE system aboard an Air France Airbus A319 – Image GhettoIFE.
The idea being that I could bring entertainment that I wanted to watch inflight, as opposed to IFE that 1) I didn’t want to watch or 2) didn’t exist.
When the iPad came out, I was initially dismissive of it – as one of the problems that I saw would be how to hang an iPad off seat, rather than it consuming precious leg room or table room in a seat.
Well, I was well and truly wrong on that one wasn’t I? iPad’s, Samsung Galaxy’s, Microsoft Surfaces, other no-name tablets computers – they’re everywhere. From the flight deck to the passenger seat, people are adapting to using these devices… and using them in very tight spaces, with people holding them, wedging them in position and such.
But the problem remains – How do you mount these devices if you want to maximise your space?
Recently, there have been a few moves in this sector, so I thought I would take a look:
One of the first out of the gate was Monarch Airways with this design for a holder on their short-haul aircraft:
Their new non-reclining seat has the holder built into the top of the seat, allowing you to seat a device (or devices) without using any cases, nor impeding into tray space.
British Airways Short Haul Seat
The British Airways design is much more reliant on the case, with you feeding it into the seat in front of you. Again, it’s not consuming precious space.
Meanwhile, SmartTray have been doing the rounds with three designs:
The X1 is a design that uses the tray table to use as a viewing platform.
The X1 whilst simple in design has a bit of an issue in my opinion – in that you require to have the tray table deployed. Considering an economy class seat isn’t that spacious to start with, and this requires the full tray to be out, whist it does offer a full “hands free” experience you could be suffering for personal space with this design.
The X2 is a bit more hopeful, with a zero space impact design…
This design is a bit better as it doesn’t require the tray table to be depolyed. Rather, the tablet is secured into the seat back, resolving the seat space issue. From what I can also see, the design should scale to different size tablets too (see the little latch at the tablet insert. The other good thing about this design is that the tablet holder is tilt-able to view.
The third variant – the X3 is designed for airlines who choose to embed tablets into seats as their IFE systems
So far, the SmartTray designs are missing customers actually buying and deploying designs, which is a bit of a shame, as they are innovative, and provide a solution for customers.
Unless airlines just want you to use your tray for eating from….
Whilst these innovations are great, they’ve got to be matched with something else – USB Power at Seat. Tablets are notorious for chewing through energy like its going out of business, and after even a medium haul flight can suffer major battery consumption if you’ve had the brightness up and a video looping.
It’s a total soultion that’s got to be thought of – not just one part of it.
But it does mean for those who travel, being tied to airline in-flight entertainment system (and the tastes that airline has in entertainment) is no longer an issue.
And if you’re still stuck with an iPhone, Galaxy, HTC, or a Windows Phone of sort, you can always put in a sick bag and call it a GhettoIFE system…