Review: United Airlines premium service portable media digEplayer

Earlier this year United Airlines replaced the media players handed out to first and business class passengers on their premium service (p.s.) flights between New York’s Kennedy Airport and Los Angeles/San Francisco. I’ve flown four flights now with the new players manufactured by digEcor and offer my review here. These are similar players to those currently offered by Alaska Airlines to passengers on select long-haul flights.

The predecessor to the digEplayer on United was definitely a nice perk, but screen quality, battery life and overall performance were consistently a problem. I experienced them freezing, going dark and unable to work at all. The new media players are a definite improvement and also incorporate the ability to surf the web upon connecting to the Gogo® Inflight Internet service.

The timing of distribution to passengers depends on the crew and I’ve been offered a unit either directly after departure or after the first drink service. The units come with a standard AC adaptor and noise cancelling headsets, but keep in mind there is only one plug per seat in business class if you also have your laptop plugged in. Arranging all of your technology can be a bit tricky even though there is generally plenty of space.

Movies, television programs, music, games and internet access complete the main options of the players, and there are two headset sockets with separate volume controls if you were to share a single unit with your seatmate. It operates as a touch screen unit with the additional ability to move a mouse arrow over a selection to then left- or right-click using the buttons found on the left-hand side. I found the arrow at times difficult to move exactly where I wanted it to go.

The high-definition screen quality is excellent although glare can become an issue if you also have the window shades open, as I often do. Also, positioning it somewhere once the full meal tray is on your table can be a bit tricky and I usually keep the meal tray slightly off to the side and closer to me to allow the unit to (barely) sit on a far edge. My apologies to United for dipping the A/C cord into my salad this last trip!

The volume levels between each setting are quite different and I ended up scrolling it up too far much to the dislike of my eardrums. Otherwise it’s a solid offering and I’d say maybe half the passengers opted for the units on each of my four recent flights. Flight attendants come around approximately 45 minutes prior to landing to collect them and often give a 10-minute warning via a cabin announcement.

Here are a few picture and short video of the unit in operation.

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