September 10 2019  |  Screens & Devices

Ultra hi-def screens are the future of IFE

By Rick Lundstrom


The Thales 4K screen will be flying next year on Emirates. Photo courtesy Thales group

LOS ANGELES– The big players in IFE at this year’s APEX Expo have signaled the future of inflight viewing experience in exciting color.

Aircraft cabins will soon be showing movies and other entertainment in vivid 4K resolution, perhaps sooner than many people thought. At the yearly press lunch, Thales Group touted its position as the first supplier of a full cabin outfitted with 4K screens on Emirates’ 777Xs starting in 2020, which was announced over the summer.

At the lunch event, Thales said it worked with movie studios in Hollywood that were concerned about the visual quality of their products. Through the collaboration, the partners defined and implemented optimum bit rates to display 4K in an IFE environment. The result is a variable bit rate (VBR) encoding technology with rates up to 40+ megabytes per second, providing video quality “10 times better” than traditional IFE systems and streaming platforms.

“The cabin environment is constantly evolving and this is a time of significant change in the industry,” said Philippe Carette, Chief Executive Officer of Thales Inflyt Experience, in today’s announcement of its 4K screens.

Burrana promises crisp, clear images and reduced glare in its new 4K drop-down screens

The future of 4K resolution in the cabin will not be confined to the seatback. Burrana announced today the development of its next generation ultra-high definition 4K overhead solution that sprung from the company’s purchase of the PAVES system from Collins Aerospace.

Burrana’s 13-inch next generation displays will feature the latest in brightness and high dynamic range LCD technology. Passengers will be able to see wide viewing angles and a crisp picture, regardless of where they’re sitting in the cabin. Additionally, the displays will feature an anti-glare coating which will help minimize reflections and the impact of sunlight.

Burrana has developed a new server which will support 4K entertainment streams for the new overhead displays as well as wireless streaming entertainment to passenger devices. The server will offer four terabytes of solid-state storage.

According to a release from the Australian company: “This significant enhancement in storage capacity, combined with high compression video streams, will efficiently support larger 4K media files.

The system will also use USB 3.0 technology, enabling airlines to load content at up to 4.8 gigabytes per second – 10 times faster than previous generations.

“With over 8.2 million pixels each, with over 16 million lifelike colors, the latest generation overhead displays from Burrana will deliver an immersive and unforgettable passenger experience,” said David Withers, Burrana CEO.

Burrana’s 4K overhead solution is intended to be available for single aisle Airbus platforms in the second quarter of 2020, with Boeing availability to follow.