Do you like in-flight WiFi? How about a ton of movies, TV shows, games, and destination information in a touchscreen? And maybe even live-tracking your flight path in minute detail? Of course you do, and both Panasonic and Singapore know this well.
What's new and majorly notable:
· Larger screens! The seatback monitors in Economy will increase from 10.6" to 11.1, Business screens make the largest jump, from 15.4" to 18, and First Class adds and inch to move from 23" to 24.
· Touchy touchy. All classes have touchscreen TVs of high-resolution, wide-screen LCD screens, new "video touchscreen handsets," and over 1,000 on-demand entertainment options. Those video touchscreen handsets will even allow you to multitask; live-monitor news headlines and flight path without interrupting the entertainment on your main screen. The flight crew may even chose to broadcast updates (example: "duty-free sales are ending soon") on this controller, reducing the amount of overhead announcements.
· Integrated internet. The onboard broadband internet will be accessible by more than just personal devices, but also the seatback screens, allowing fun capabilities like Tweeting or Facebooking your flight path location right from the Airshow screen.
· Power to the people. HDMI ports at Business and First Class seats (in addition to two USB ports, eXport for iPods, and one regular power port).
· Add your two cents. The new system will include the ability to rate movies and read reviews from previous travelers. There's even a Travel Forum to come, designed as a social network for flyers to share destination tips, such as a great restaurant for business meetings in London, the best late-night dim sum in Hong Kong, or great running trails in Los Angeles.
· For the youngsters. Don't worry about taking a nap and awaking to your child viewing a rated-R movie, since the new system includes "Kids' Mode," a directory of cartoons, family-friendly movies and games.
· Sweet graphics. Last but definitely not least, the new KrisWorld eX3 system is going to be so awesome for fans of tuning in to the "moving map" channel. We're talking more than just a display of the aircraft's position and flight path, but a heads-up display mode similar to what the captain sees, and high-res satellite images of the terrain below, complete with geographical features and landmarks (complete with the ability to view more photos and read the Wikipedia info).
· All off. For those times you just want to sleep, an "all off" button will turn off the screens without having to navigate through a menu. Additionally, it won't lose your place, meaning you can feel free to nap in the middle of a movie and finish it after awakening for breakfast.
So, about in-flight WiFi...
As it stands right now, Singapore Airlines offers WiFi on 21 aircraft, including the A345s that fly their Biz Class-only routes to EWR and LAX, some 777s, and some A380s. It's currently powered by OnAir and usage is billed based on megabytes used. The new system will instead see in-flight WiFi by Panasonic Avionics on the new 777-300ERs and rolled out onto future 777s and A350s, but pricing options haven't yet been released.
It's important to note that there may be small changes to all this once the system is finally installed in an aircraft. We played with a sample system and were especially enthralled with the capabilities of the touchscreen controller. This is the future, folks, and luckily it's only a few months away.
We were in Singapore for the debut of the Next Gen products as a guest of Singapore Airlines, but all photos, nerding out, and opinions are completely our own.
[Photos: Cynthia Drescher/Jaunted]