Portable IFE firm confident in role at Alaska despite Wi-Fi plan

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Portable in-flight entertainment (IFE) specialist digEcor is confident its handheld devices will continue to play a role in Alaska Airlines' in-flight entertainment strategy, despite the carrier's plan to bring Row 44's connectivity service on board its aircraft.

"We have a plan and strategy in place with Alaska and it certainly does include our handheld devices, even with flights with connectivity," a digEcor spokesman reveals.

Details of that strategy have not been disclosed. Alaska and digEcor have a long-standing relationship whereby the carrier rents the firm's so-called digEplayer devices to passengers.

Alaska is also currently testing Row 44's Ku-band satellite-based connectivity service on a Boeing 737, but has made known its interest in offering the service fleet-wide.

According to digEcor, there remains a strong case for handheld IFE even though a growing number of passengers are bringing their own personal electronic devices (PEDs) aboard aircraft.

"Several of our clients have connectivity right now. It has been interesting to hear reports from them as we get into the exact discussion about what our place is in their future. What they're finding, as they provide connectivity, is that a lot of passengers still don't bring their own personal devices, especially on vacation routes," says the digEcor spokesman.

"For example, not a lot of families bring laptops on board, and those who have them, don't want to pull them out to connect. They see them as big, bulky, and there is only a limited amount of space on the tray. This is where a handheld IFE system really helps."

He adds: "Passengers are also concerned about battery life. They are not consuming their own battery laptop life when they use handhelds. They appreciate renting our device which has sufficient battery life for their flight."

DigEcor's latest generation portable IFE players are Wi-Fi-enabled.