Malaysia Airlines Cabin Without Built-in Entertainment System – Good Or Bad?

 I still remember around 2015 while boarding an Air Asia flight to Melbourne, I paid RM 50 to borrow a tablet that contained entertainment content for the 8-hour flight. In those years, it may have been an attractive proposition compared to today because streaming services in those years had not yet reached the level of popularity they are now.

I recently had the opportunity to board a Malaysia Airlines flight that no longer includes its own in-flight entertainment (IFE) system. On the other hand, the passenger's smart device becomes a substitute for IFE by streaming content directly from the WiFi system they provide.

This design without a screen is a measure to save the size of the cabin seats, while increasing comfort in terms of seating space. In terms of operations, such cabin offerings can also increase the number of passengers that can be carried, and airlines do not need to spend more on additional costs such as the provision of headphone accessories, or the cost of updating device content.

One more thing with the introduction of this new cabin, it can also reduce the weight of the aircraft up to 679 kilograms which can save fuel consumption up to 1029 liters, while also reducing pollution, allowing the company in general to contribute to more environmentally friendly initiatives.

Cabin design specially created to accommodate smart devices.

This new generation cabin replaces the IFE screen with a plastic tray that has three notches to place the device and also a clamp that can be adjusted according to the size of your device. The device can be placed vertically in this clamp without having to worry about it falling over if the plane goes through turbulent airspace.

One drawback to the design of the device tray and also this clamp is that it looks more friendly to large devices such as the iPhone 14 Pro Max, Samsung Galaxy Z Fold, and tablets. If you're using a small, compact device, like an iPhone Mini or Galaxy Z Flip, you're only relying on the shock provided, and the device may move even more during weather disturbances. The device above is the Huawei Mate 20 Pro which can be clamped, but offers a smaller viewing experience.

The device tray is also seen to be quite stable to accommodate large-sized devices, even large enough for you to place the Nintendo Switch and play it at a more comfortable viewing level than placing the device on a dinner tray. I was lucky enough not to experience any weather disturbances on this flight, but if there were any weather disturbances, passengers could just hold the device to avoid any untoward incident.

This new generation Malaysia Airlines cabin also includes a USB-A and USB-C power plug located at the same level as the device tray. This makes it easy to charge the device while it is in use even with a short charging cable. The downside is that the power output from these two UBS ports is low making fast charging impossible to enjoy. Perhaps Malaysia Airlines could include a 3-pin power plug directly on the seat like Emirates, Qatar and All Nippon Airways offer.

In-flight streaming – How does it work?

Depending on your airline, internet access for in-flight WiFi services is usually limited to your flight class. Or it may be subject to the terms of vessel availability, such as for example for vessels that may only take 50 minutes, the service is not provided. However, in order to stream entertainment content, what is done is a 'localhost' connection, where passengers cannot access the external internet, but can access websites that provide selected entertainment content.

Access to this Malaysia Airlines entertainment system requires users to turn on flight mode and select the MHStudio WiFi network. That option will launch their website, which will then display all the entertainment options on your device. It can be said that almost everything that is usually offered through a traditional entertainment system display, is also available for the device.

Entertainment options such as movies, dramas, books, magazines, songs, flight information and even purchasing items on the plane are also available. Since my flight is less than two hours away, the option to purchase Temptations merchandise and also purchase additional snacks is not available. Interestingly, the use of the MHStudio system is also tied to the control of the ship's captain, that is, if there is any announcement, what you are playing will be paused to make way for the announcement.

It can be said that the existence of this new entertainment system to some extent does not have any impact on users since Malaysia Airlines provides the MHStudio application for free. Just makes passengers without compatible devices with matching accessories feel bored without entertainment. But what could be improved is if the airline informs the passengers about the plane they are about to board, and gives suggestions if the passengers want to be prepared with their own entertainment content.

There are some other airlines that also offer integration from the app to their entertainment system, where they can find out what shows are on offer before departure, and mark them as favourites. When flying, with the appropriate account login, all those options can be played.

Perhaps these features can be developed in the next iteration of the Malaysia Airlines entertainment system update, and perhaps for other airlines, they can also think of the same solution, as technology advances.

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