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Inside Panasonic’s 30% Lighter 4K OLED HDR IFE System, Astrova -Runway Girl

Behind Panasonic Avionics’ new Astrova in-flight entertainment system – with its thin, consumer-grade display, ultra-fast charging and significantly lighter weight – are key technology, trend and development drivers. Runway Girl Network sat down with Vice President of Product Development Andy Masson at the Aircraft Interiors Expo to discuss it.

During Astrova’s development, Masson tells RGN, “we went and did a whole bunch of research during COVID: we weren’t standing still. We wanted to know what changed: what changed for the What are the things that are changing for customers and customers? One was sustainability, and this huge push towards sustainability, especially in terms of weight reduction, is how we looked at that. want to reduce their carbon footprint.

To that end, Panasonic claims “significant” weight savings in the seat-side portion of the system, while remaining backward compatible with its previous IFE platforms including eX1, eX3 and then.

RGN asked Masson about the details, for a theoretical upgrade of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner from a basic eX3 system right at the end of the seat – in other words, without the upgrades to the head system beyond the seat itself. “This system is 30% lighter than the eX3, per seat,” says Masson, and that “includes the seat box, the monitor harness itself, and then the monitor itself.”

This redesign of the cable, harness, and seat box accounts for a significant portion of the weight savings, especially when replicated 200-300 times on a jumbo jet.

In terms of choices for airlines look at interior upgrade budgets right now“you could just do the seat-end. You could leave the network in place. And we designed it specifically with that in mind,” Masson explains. “You probably take the cabin out, you probably change the seats anyway – you don’t have to… but you probably do – in this particular case the ends of the seats only. If you wanted to upgrade the head end, you can, but you don’t have to.

The screen itself impresses with style, size, clarity and performance, with Masson citing a “6.5 millimeter bezel around the outside, three millimeters smaller than an iPad Pro. It is seven millimeters thick: it is extremely thin. It’s all part of the precise, sculpted design we put together, and we did it because it then takes weight off.

Astrova was unveiled at the Aircraft Interiors Expo, sized here for high-end seating implementations. Image: Jason Rabinowitz

The plastic front is polycarbonate, optically bonded to the screen behind, which is 4K OLED HDR. Let’s unbox this.

The 4K part is undoubtedly something exaggerated, and did so for more than half a decade as content creators continue to charge high rates for 4K content. Most airlines still only have a handful of 4K movies on board. Power up 1080 onwards is fine, but the current paradigm means that airlines are not yet fully utilizing 4K technology.

On the OLED side, much like the home consumer market the difference between LED, OLED and QLED is one of those technical issues that will largely make little difference to anyone with average onboard requirements. In theory, the deeper blacks of OLEDs have an advantage, but in the real world, if you’re trying to watch a movie formatted to fit the aviation screen, upscaled from 720p, in a sunny airplane cabin with all the blinds open, will the difference matter?

HDR, or high dynamic range, is a video and image technology which improves the way light is represented. And in some ways, that’s the new studio-thrown hurdle for IFE vendors to overcome.

“You have to have HDR if you want to put content from specific studios,” Masson tells us. “Some studios require HDR before they let you have 4K content, because they want to protect the creativity of their content, and they’re getting very restrictive about that.”

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Speaking of brightness, Astrova also includes programmable LED lighting around the edge of the screen, allowing airlines to subtly signal passengers when the flight is in progress: transitioning to a peach at sunset in the evening or a blue sky. dawn in the morning, for example.

And there’s an impressive amount of power to go: Astrova can deliver 67W of juice over USB-C, enabling fast charging of even large, power-hungry devices like tablets and laptops.

“Our research has shown that for the first time, more people are now bringing tablets on a plane than laptops,” Masson told RGN. “14% of people bring tablets, 12% of people bring laptops.”

Astrova provides this via its Peripheral Bar below the screen, making it very clear where the outlets are and allowing changes and upgrades to the passenger’s device power supply without having to remove the entire unit. ‘screen.

A device is plugged into the Astrova IFE system measuring power consumption

Astrova delivers 67W of power to laptops, tablets and other power-hungry devices. Image: John Walton

Overall, Astrova is impressive and contains some of Panasonic Avionics’ most innovative developments in years. And he already has a client in the form of Qatar Airways 777X fleet. With the launch of Astrova and several exciting new hires, we’ll be watching closely for further clues as to how Panasonic is repositioning itself.

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Featured image credited to Recaro