TALKING POINT | You're settling in for that long flight, with many hours stretching ahead. Time to relax with a good movie or a few episodes of a favourite TV show.
But do you switch on your seat's personal video screen, or reach for the even more personal option of your laptop or tablet?
Airlines have continued to ramp up their inflight entertainment (IFE) offerings ever since shared ceiling-mounted displays with one channel and a fixed schedule of shows were replaced by individual seatback screens.
Today's screens are almost as large as they physically can be, especially in premium cabins: Virgin Australia's new Boeing 777 business class boasts an 18 inch display...
... while the difference between screen size Qantas' circa 2008 Airbus A380 Skybed II business class and its newest A330 Business Suite is a compact 12 inches versus an expansive 16 inches.
That said, it's possible for an inflight video screen to be too big, as may well be the case with the 23 inch widescreen display of Emirates' new Boeing 777 business class.
At the same time, airlines are investing in content: from the latest release movies to boxed sets of TV series, which are perfect for some indulgent binge viewing above the clouds.
Yet despite those large HD displays and an impressive array of content, many travellers and frequent flyers – and I count myself among that number – who prefer to watch their own choice of video on their laptop or tablet. Call it 'BYO IFE'.
The screen sizes on these devices – a general range from the 9 inches of a tablet to a laptop's 13-15 inches – are large enough for personal viewing.
(Personally, I've never really enjoyed watching video on smaller-screen devices such as smartphones.)
More importantly, they let you turn those inflight hours of downtime into catch-up time for shows you've not gotten around to seeing at home (and, yes, for binge viewing too) – although you may need to be a little selective with your choice of viewing...
For me, BYO IFE includes some shows such as documentaries which aren't a sufficiently high priority for my limited viewing time at home.
There's also the fact that many airlines will edit a movie and make some annoying cuts in the name of censorship or simply marketing (such as BA's removal of Virgin Atlantic aircraft and even a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo by Sir Richard Branson in Casino Royale).
Obviously trying to watch a video on your laptop or tablet can pose an issue at meal times, but the latest business class seats provide ample room to plonk your kit off to one side and keep watching while you eat.
So in this week's Talking Point, we're asking AusBT readers of their preferences when it comes to inflight videos: do you favour the airline's own content, do you prefer to bring your own selection along for the ride, or do you mix it up and choose between the two for watching whatever you fancy?
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