First look: Gulf Air offers ‘embedded portables’ on 737

Gulf Air 1.JPG

Seat-centric IFE. Wireless IFE. Seat-centric IFE with wireless IFE applications. Portable IFE. Server-centric IFE. We’re seeing it all at this week’s Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg. But here is a new one – digEcor’s embedded portable (I know you’re thinking oxymoron but bear with me).

Above is an admittedly grainy snap of an install of the new embedded (well, semi-embedded) portable on a Gulf Air Boeing 737. And here’s digEcor’s statement on the offering:

digEcor launches first embedded portable player on Gulf Air

Springville, UT April 7, 2011 – As of April 1, the digEplayer L7 is available inflight as a semi-embedded IFE offering. Having launched on a 737-700 flying from Bahrain to Milan and Geneva, every passenger in economy class is now able to enjoy all of the same content normally available on Gulf Air’s existing handhelds via the new seat back units.

“As many may know, we have had an interest for some time in adapting and certifying our proprietary handheld system as a seat back solution. We appreciate the partnership with Gulf Air that has allowed us to realize that goal,” remarked digEcor President Brad Heckel. “This important milestone is the first step as we develop a robust seat back option that will address the needs of many airlines today.”

EASA certified, the embedded L7 uses in-seat power, features a PA interrupt, and is seat centric as all content is stored locally on the device. Currently, the system mainly consists of the L7; though with other projects in the works, digEcor plans to continue development on the project and will roll out new features and functionality in the coming months.

digEcor CEO Brent Wood commented, “Gulf Air has been flying the L7 as a portable for several months and now has embedded the player. More planes will follow this conversion and L10 (ten inch) players are also being prepared for other planes and premium passengers. This allows an airline to purchase an L series portable player and then at any time in the future, embed that player into the back of the seat. This protects the initial investment in a portable player as it becomes a ‘Mix and Match’ device for the airlines.”

Added Gulf Air Chief Executive Officer Mr. Samer Majali, “The embedding of L7 players on Gulf Air’s fleet is a further demonstration of service-enhancement to our passengers.  With its new features and functionality,  I am sure the embedded player in seat backs will raise the passenger inflight entertainment to the next level as we introduce the major revamp to our onboard entertainment in coming months.”

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5 Responses to First look: Gulf Air offers ‘embedded portables’ on 737

  1. spotwelder April 6, 2011 at 1:13 pm #

    Hi Mary, I am sorry that I didn’t know that flightglobal did not have any more pictures. I was on this aircraft a few days ago. It is registered HB-IIQ and operated by Privatair for Gulf Air. The additional routes flown after the Geneva or Milan to Bahrain sector are then Muscat Bahrain Muscat on the GF 566 service. Oh, and no earphones are handed out on the MCT sector!

    These IFE devices were also handed out on the GF2 service last week from London to Bahrain in business class on the A330 (A9C-KF). However, they are not integral to the seats, just the normal portable.

    As anyone who has flown GF knows, their IFE was somewhat need of an update. Each of their A340s had its own peculiarity with IFE failures towards the end of their European service days to the extent that it was quite possible for me to walk down the jetbridge and tell the other passengers which channels would not work, or were switched in order or played the films in the wrong direction from the to/from Bahrain listing.

    At least these seat back videos have an off button, unlike the new Embraer 170/190 screens that are very distracting with the usual “just for laughs” programme when you are trying to work on their flights too.

    I will see if I can grab some more pictures later this week.

  2. 92548 Storage Units April 6, 2011 at 2:11 pm #

    Wow! I guess planes are also catching up on technological amenities like WiFi, digital players and the like. Will the day also come when they will allow cel phones to be used on-board?

  3. Aero Ninja April 8, 2011 at 10:32 am #

    Did you take the picture yourself? What is that to the right and left of the passenger seats? Looks like a shelf. Hatracks without internal bulkheads? Looks definitely odd.

    I am a bit confused here. What is the definition of embedded, or semi-embedded?

    Why portable or perhaps I should ask, how portable? i.e. How much of a risk is there that passengers could collect souvenirs?

    Thanks in advance.

    Missed the show in Hamburg again. Maybe I will finally make it next year. After all, it only takes me 20 minutes to get there.

  4. Mary Kirby April 8, 2011 at 10:37 am #

    Thanks a million. More pics would be awesome!!

  5. Johnathan June 26, 2011 at 6:41 am #

    I flew on 737 Privat Air. video players are embeded on the seat back on economy class only. Business Class get their video player distributed. When i asked why it is not in the back seat same as economy, i was told that they will do so when the larget 10′ model is released from Digicor.
    Then i asked them about why they dont give out headsets to MCT, they replied that it is less than 30mins and Gulf Air do not give out headsets for regional routes. I guess this is reasonable. I flew this aircraft twice, once as economy and once as business; i enjoyed the trip with players in back more than having it on the table. Of course bigger seat is an advantage, especially on night flights.