United Airlines to trial Zune HD devices on International flights

United Airlines is planning to trial 500 Zune HD devices for in-flight entertainment on International flights.

The trial will take place on long haul international flights from the United States. Microsoft has worked hard to customize 500 devices and provide unique content for those flying with United Airlines. The software giant has held meetings with content providers and movie studios to pre-load the devices with the latest content just out of movie theatres and pre-DVD. Customers will be able to loan the devices onboard flights.

Microsoft's senior business development manager, Dave McLauchlan, revealed the project on the Zune Insider podcast earlier this week. The trial is an extension of an agreement that Microsoft and United Airlines inked earlier this year. In June, United Airlines announced Zune in-flight audio on all United aircraft. Microsoft provides 21 separate playlists, loaded from the Zune digital entertainment service.

United Airlines will begin the trial in the coming weeks. Initial flights to Hong Kong and Australia will include the devices. 


Zune HD devices charging ready for United Airlines - Credit, @DaveMacMS

Thanks to Neowin member Bengal34 for the news tip

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Faisal Islam said,
wow..... its nice...a lott offf ZUNEEEE ....personally i really liked its interface..METRO UI

Yes it's a really nice interface... but most people don't seem to know, there's no such thing as the "Metro UI". Metro is codename for a *design language* used my Microsoft to style Windows Phone 7, which evolved from Zune HD's design - technically the term Metro UI is just wrong =/ But yes sorry to moan, it's awesome xD

~Johnny said,

Yes it's a really nice interface... but most people don't seem to know, there's no such thing as the "Metro UI". Metro is codename for a *design language* used my Microsoft to style Windows Phone 7, which evolved from Zune HD's design - technically the term Metro UI is just wrong =/ But yes sorry to moan, it's awesome xD

Actually, i am quite certain that the Zune HD's UI is refered to as the Metro UI by MS. i know that the older Zune UI was the 'Twist" UI. I'm trying to find where I've seen MS refer to the HD ui as Metro

~Johnny said,

Yes it's a really nice interface... but most people don't seem to know, there's no such thing as the "Metro UI". Metro is codename for a *design language* used my Microsoft to style Windows Phone 7, which evolved from Zune HD's design - technically the term Metro UI is just wrong =/ But yes sorry to moan, it's awesome xD

Uhhh, actually, no, Metro is precisely what the Zune uses, it's the entire new style of MS products

LiquidSolstice said,

Uhhh, actually, no, Metro is precisely what the Zune uses, it's the entire new style of MS products

Yes, and no. Metro was the code name they came up with for the design language/stlye when they refined it for Windows Phone 7. It is NOT a UI. It is a design language, there is a difference, and Microsoft has only refereed to Metro as "Our Design Language". Infact that only documentation they've released about Metro, and the one that unveiled the Metro name and that everyone therefore based "Metro UI" on, says exactly that. It is not a UI...? And UI is built using the Metro design langauge to create the Windows Phone 7 UI.

For what it's worth, here is their document: http://download.microsoft.com/...2-8E2D-665705380DA0/Windows%20Phone%20Design%20System%20-%20Codename%20Metro.PDF

It just happens tech sites incorrectly reffered to it as the "metro ui" and then it spread around like wildfire =/

~Johnny said,

Yes, and no. Metro was the code name they came up with for the design language/stlye when they refined it for Windows Phone 7. It is NOT a UI. It is a design language, there is a difference, and Microsoft has only refereed to Metro as "Our Design Language". Infact that only documentation they've released about Metro, and the one that unveiled the Metro name and that everyone therefore based "Metro UI" on, says exactly that. It is not a UI...? And UI is built using the Metro design langauge to create the Windows Phone 7 UI.

For what it's worth, here is their document: http://download.microsoft.com/...2-8E2D-665705380DA0/Windows%20Phone%20Design%20System%20-%20Codename%20Metro.PDF

It just happens tech sites incorrectly reffered to it as the "metro ui" and then it spread around like wildfire =/

well got it...but the thing is very beautiful this graphics style is just replacing glossy Appleish graphics style.

This is good for the Zune. It really deserves more respect since personally, I think it's the best media player. The Metro UI is a joy to use.

Nagamasa said,
A few airlines already use PSPs as IFE...don't know what this is exactly important.

Lighter, less bulky, amazing screen (seriously, you have to see it in motion to believe it), and a long battery life.

Interesting concept. To charge, that image is ridiculous...I'm certain they custom built a charger that can charge 20 units or so at a time (onboard). I also think this charge station has a single USB cable to connect to an onboard computer for content updates. I'm curious how they will keep devices from walking with passengers or flight crew. RFID?

Cool idea but why not do seatback lcd's like the better airlines... yea it's more money but makes you more appealing.. when I flew to Australia 2x I avoided any airline that didn't have a seatback lcd, United being one of them.. get with the times!

Think I'll stick with Air Canada and WestJet with their massive seatback screens. Most people have an iPod/iPhone/Zune already, I don't see why offering customized ones would really benefit the customers much.

Now, take the Zune interface and put it on seatback screens, and you might have a winner. Air Canada's interface is clunky and... blegh. But it offers a massive screen with those same pre-DVD movies. And I don't think you can beat WestJet's satellite TV (although you pay for the movies).

Simon said,
Think I'll stick with Air Canada and WestJet with their massive seatback screens. Most people have an iPod/iPhone/Zune already, I don't see why offering customized ones would really benefit the customers much.

Now, take the Zune interface and put it on seatback screens, and you might have a winner. Air Canada's interface is clunky and... blegh. But it offers a massive screen with those same pre-DVD movies. And I don't think you can beat WestJet's satellite TV (although you pay for the movies).

The zunes are filled with movies that are not available on DVD yet.

Bengal34 said,

The zunes are filled with movies that are not available on DVD yet.

I know, but Air Canada offers that too. Probably offers a lot more than can fit on a Zune HD, too.

How are they going to keep all of them in sync efficiently? Doesn't putting them in the hands of people increase the rate of failure?

On the positive side, replacing the broken ones would be really simple. I dunno... I just like the idea of a bigger screen. I've held a Zune HD in my hands before, and they're really not that big.

Simon said,
I know, but Air Canada offers that too. Probably offers a lot more than can fit on a Zune HD, too.

How are they going to keep all of them in sync efficiently? Doesn't putting them in the hands of people increase the rate of failure?

On the positive side, replacing the broken ones would be really simple. I dunno... I just like the idea of a bigger screen. I've held a Zune HD in my hands before, and they're really not that big.

The zune comes in a 64gb model so it should be enough. With syncing you can do that all wirelessly so it shouldn't be all that bad. You're right about the rate of failure but from the looks of it, in the picture they are all in protective cases so that should help. On the size portion, the zune is meant to be a small device, easily pocketable.

A larger device for something like this may be better but they probably went with the zune because of their previous relationships with microsoft and the zune media service.

This is nice and all, and it makes sense to use a platform that might be going away in the face of a new generation based on WP7 (probably ended up cheaper than getting even a generic media interface), but...

The last time I used in-flight entertainment was when I had those seatback screens (like others have mentioned). There was a snazzy set-up years back that let me play SNES games if I wanted to. A Zune, or any PMP for that matter, just seems...well, I'd play with it for a bit, but then I'd go back to a book or something.

It doesn't help that the tech on planes gets ghetto real fast. Anyone ever get fully-functional headphones on the first try? Meh.

Joshie said,

It doesn't help that the tech on planes gets ghetto real fast. Anyone ever get fully-functional headphones on the first try? Meh.

When I went to San Francisco in January it took 3 attempts to get some working headphones.

It doesn't help that the tech on planes gets ghetto real fast. Anyone ever get fully-functional headphones on the first try? Meh.

Everytime I fly lol =/ But then I fly on good airlines like Cathay Pacific.

Gives me some 4" Zune HD love. Is that asking for too much? I use my 64GB Zune HD all the time and can't wait for WP7 to make it a single device integration. They are starting to really pull things together with their timing..

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