Posted on: 01 September 2010 by Ross McSweeny
The IMS Company is switching strategies and will manufacture its own purpose-built portable media player (PMP) for IFE to be sold alongside its current commercial off the shelf (COTS) product, the PAV705.
COTS and IFE are no longer on a fully parallel path, says the California-based solutions provider and leading PMP supplier, and COTS applications in IFE are diminishing.
IMS says its new I7 player differs significantly from previous IMS PMPs in its batteries — offering more than 24 hours of continuous encrypted video playback with the extended-life option, they are claimed to be the longest life battery in the market — and its use of up to 4TB of SD storage.
“Portables in IFE are becoming commoditised with very specific requirements," explains IMS CEO and founder Joseph Renton. "The industry wants a 7-inch screen, rugged case, the storage capacity of a fileserver and a battery that lasts all day for $500.” In the meantime, he observes, COTS devices are optimising with 5-inch screens, less rugged cases, and storage and battery capacity that is less compatible with IFE requirements. Special requirements like a 24-hour battery, he says, are harder to meet cost-effectively with COTS.
“When the requirements are that specific, and are on a different course than COTS, it makes sense to begin making our own,” says Renton. “COTS is becoming a market of iPhones and iPads which, very frankly, meet only limited requirements in IFE. We looked into the next generation of COTS devices and knew it was time to offer something complementary to our COTS offering. Within a few years, as IFE goes a different way than COTS, the applications for COTS in IFE will be significantly diminished.”
The use of SD (Smart Digital) cards for content storage is ideal for IFE and virtually eliminates content loading time and expensive terrestrial loading equipment, advises Harry Gray, IMS vice president of sales and marketing: "The I7 storage is expandable to 4TB, and along with a cost-effective long-life battery helped make the decision clear."
The new player comes with a 7-inch touch screen with WVGA 800×480 resolution, a 16:9 aspect ratio and a weight factor of as little as less than a pound. IMS offers the player with three battery options: where power is provided at the seat, the PMP with no battery weighs just 0.81 pounds; the standard life battery runs for more than eight hours and the PMP with this battery weighs 1.23 pounds. With a 24+ hour extended life battery the PMP weighs 1.79 pounds.
The SD card storage solution enables content to be loaded to the SD cards on the ground and then inserted into the PMP, IMS says. Two 64GB SD cards store 175 hours of encoded/encrypted content that can be loaded to the PMP in less than a minute by swapping SD cards. Fully WAEA 0403 compliant, the I7 supports H.264, MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 codecs, and both MP3 and AAC audio encoding.
There are various ground support options for content loading, SD card duplication, and battery charging. A multipurpose rack called an iGPOD can simultaneously charge up to 56 extended-life batteries in less than 4 hours.
IMS says it has reached agreement with all major Hollywood studios on the security requirements that qualify the device for Early Window content, and is using the same security in the I7 as approved for its embedded RAVE system.