We have been fortunate over the last few months as several airlines have launched a new digEplayer L7 program. In fact, just today we announced that Sun Country is upgrading. For this post, I’m diving into a bit of the background, development work and reasons why airlines have rapidly accepted the L7.
The digEplayer XT, our second generation device, was launched back in 2007. Since then, technology has obviously come a long way. The proliferation of smartphones and the recent popularization of tablet devices has brought development and manufacturing talent/experience to the handheld marketplace. Also, we have all experienced a global economic recession that has created increased downward pressure on prices. With that environment, the engineers at digEcor began mapping out a product that would take advantage of new technologies and yet be at a price point that was competitive in today’s market.
Beautiful on the outside and rugged on the inside.”
We also began surveying passengers to find out what they like, don’t like, will use, will watch, etc. Some of those results are available for download in our 2010 Passenger Survey Results.
The end result of the technological and economic environment as well as our collaboration with airlines and passengers was the introduction of the digEplayer L Series.
Leading our hardware development team, Glade Hulet describes the digEplayer L7 as, “Beautiful on the outside and rugged on the inside.” Glade, who has a background in designing systems for companies such as US Robotics and Boeing, compiled all the hours of research into a cohesive design specification. His goal throughout the design phase was to “create more value for our customers.”
Having seen Lefeel Media Technology at the Aircraft Interiors Expo and been impressed with its first generation device, we formed a partnership with Lefeel for the manufacturing of the L Series. Throughout the manufacturing process, we ensured reliability through constant quality testing. Also, each player goes through a burn-in test to ensure that it meets the specification provided. We are still researching and looking for ways to improve the quality of the manufacturing process as well as reduce costs wherever possible. Our goal is to have the most reliable and rugged handheld in-flight entertainment system.
As anyone knows, the front end device is only a piece of the entire pie. Portables in particular face certain provisioning and logistical hurdles as the content is changed on the ground. Having spoken with airlines and provisioners, we set out to address one of the most fundamental needs - space. The L Series Content Update Station (CUS) is designed to take up as little space as possible while still allowing provisioners to update as many players as possible. For example, one station can update 100 L7s simultaneously. The CUS is also plug-n-play. Meaning, you simply dock a player and the update process is completely automated from that point on.
Rather than give my thoughts, I want airlines to speak for themselves. The following are quotes directly from our customers.
Lee Shave, Chief Commercial Officer of Wataniya Airways said: “We are delighted to be able to introduce this new system especially for our Premium Economy guests, providing every one of them with their own entertainment system. At Wataniya Airways, we are committed to providing outstanding service and value. With the introduction of this new, state-of-the-art system, we are able to give our valued Premium Economy guests a wide and appealing selection of entertainment, which is clearly presented and easy to access. The system is unique in the Middle East and Wataniya Airways is only the third airline in the world to offer it.”
“After reviewing a selection of different providers, we were convinced that the digEplayer L7 would be the best option to obtain this level of satisfaction. Our passengers appreciate the design and functionality of the digEplayer and are delighted that they now can select the movie, television show and audio they desire,” said Patrick Lamonte, Technical Director of Thomas Cook Airlines Belgium.
“The success of the Sun Country’s digEplayer program over the last eight months and the exceptional features of digEplayer L7 led to the decision to upgrade and expand the program,” commented Wendy Blackshaw, Sun Country Vice President of Marketing and Sales. “For example, the touch screen technology, easy-to-use functionality and long battery life played a role in making the L7 the optimal choice for Sun Country and our passengers. This featured device enhances our world-class service which differentiates us from the competition.”