20090405

AVOD

Another day, another 8000 airmiles and 14 hours in the sky. Putting aside the toll that this places on the sky, I tend to focus more closely on the personal toll that it takes, what with 12 hour time differences and the resultant crippling jetlag. So as usual, I distract myself with the provided in flight entertainment. This time is was Continental's AVOD system again. In the configuration I saw, it finally had a decent selection--about 300 movies and 150 short titles--compared to the 20 odd movies last time I encountered a version. It might even be getting more stable -- it only had to be rebooted once on the way out, and not at all on the way back. (That said, I had a row of 3 seats to myself on the way back; one screen was locked up through the whole trip, and a second hung after I had been prodding it for an hour or so. Fortunately, the middle screen survived to the end). The selections are still a bit idiosyncratic, especially on the "short program" front: most titles (TV shows) have only a couple of seemingly randomly chosen episodes with no apparent logic. Although, if you are a fan of the CSI franchises you can see just about every episode ever. UI is still flaky: only one fastforward/rewind speed, and rather unresponsive/laggy, so when you see something on screen and tap to resume, it's usually a couple of minutes away from where you want to be. And still no fast way to jump back to where you got to before the last crash/reboot.

The music side of the AVOD system still needs more attention. It had a rather clunky user interface, where you navigate by genre, then by CD. When you play a track from a CD, the track plays out, and then nothing happens. That is, there's no way to select an album and just listen to the whole thing through. A new feature is the "jukebox", which lets you add up to 50 tracks, and will do a track advance at the end of each song. So you can find an album you want to hear, click on each track in turn to add it to the jukebox, and then listen to the album. An "add all" feature would help here, although the whole metaphor is pretty broken, and is probably anathema to the iPod generation. I also miss the "radio channels" from the pre-On Demand days, which would have a 2.5 hour selection of music, which could be good to just stick on and not bother about choosing what to listen to: sometimes, you don't really want to be so Demanding.

The system as a whole is coming along, and it helps to pass the 14 hours (although not as much as simply stretching out and entering an altered state of semi-consciousness). I wonder what the policy is for rotating off the larger library of TV shows and movies: a few more flights, and I could exhaust the things I actually want to see.

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