Review: In-Flight Virtual Reality Entertainment System on Qatar Airways Business Class

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Business Class passengers on selected Qatar Airways flights flying to/from London and Singapore got to experience the In-Flight Virtual Reality (VR) Oryx One Entertainment System from mid-February 2020 in a month-long trial. I was given the opportunity to experience the most immersive passenger experience for a couple of hours on my flight from Doha to Singapore in late February and shared my experience live via Instagram stories. Here’s my honest review of this ‘state-of-the-art’ product.


Front view

Front view


Side view

Side view

The good

I have had past experiences with VR headsets and I saw right away that images in Inflight VR were smoother and not as pixelated. I have reached out to Inflight VR to find out the exact technical specifications. Here they are:

  • CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 835

  • RAM: 4 GB

  • Screen Resolution: 3840 x 2160

  • Refresh Rate: 75 Hz

  • Field of View: 101 degrees

Content is understandably limited during this trial but there was a good mix of documentaries, sight-seeings, and games.

The background of the main screen in the VR device makes it look like you are in a Qsuite, even if you are not. I guess that is some consolation for my “downgraded” flight caused by a last minute airplane swap from a Qsuite?


Main menu with a Qsuite background

Main menu with a Qsuite background

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The bad

I hated the navigation system. There was a tiny blue square in the middle of my screen. To click on a button, I had to move that blue dot by moving my head, place it over the button and hold it there for about 2-3 seconds. That is too much work for one click. There are many VR systems in the market that includes a handheld device to act as a mouse. I feel that this product would offer a nicer experience with an add-on like such.

I also do not like the fact that most promotional photos and videos of Inflight VR do not include headphones. With headphones on, it got very bulky and you’ll look like this guy in the photo below.


Photo: apex.aero

Photo: apex.aero

Having a VR headset on also means that you will have to take it off every time you want a sip of that Lallier or risk spilling it.

Sanitizing this product adequately will be a huge pain, Covid-19 or not. The thought of having a reusable device that close to my eyes makes me very uncomfortable.


Manual (Click to enlarge)

Conclusion

I absolutely love technological innovation. No matter how good or bad a particular product is, I hugely appreciate businesses who come up with them and I would like to thank Qatar Airways for allowing Inflight VR to have a go at revolutionizing the in-flight entertainment system.

Virtual reality is not perfect. It did not feel like I was in a Qsuite or whatever the VR screen is showing. The resolution is nowhere near how it is in real life. I do not see this as a replacement for in-flight entertainment systems in the near future and I am sure that is not the point of this product. It was a fun add-on to my in-flight experience.

As I removed the VR goggles and looked around the cabin, I saw other passengers losing interest in it after about 15 minutes of navigating the menu with their heads.

It has potential, for sure. In fact, I can imagine kids being very entertained by this. But for how long? Time will tell if Inflight VR can revolutionize in-flight entertainment and believe me, I am rooting for them. But for now, VR is a gimmick and is in danger of disappearing into oblivion along with 3D and curved televisions.

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1 thought on “Review: In-Flight Virtual Reality Entertainment System on Qatar Airways Business Class”

  1. Totally agree with you on the VR technology. It is just too bulky and uncomfortable after a long period of use. I believe even in current times, we are hearing less and less of it.

    Reply

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