Review: Alaska Airlines “Beyond Entertainment” System [Updated]

On my flight from Las Vegas to Seattle, I got the chance to test out Alaska Airlines new “Beyond Entertainment” system. I reported about it at the end of last year here on the blog.

Alaska Beyond 01I had my two Samsung Galaxy Note devices with me. A Note 3 from Germany and a Note 4 from Verizon Wireless. There was a seat-pocket card, which tells you three easy steps on how to get to your movies.

  1. Connect to the GoGo Inflight Wireless
  2. Open your browser
  3. Select Entertainment
  4. Select your movie or TV show

If you have already the GoGo Video player installed it should work right away, at least that’s what I assumed. But reality showed me the hard truth.

Connecting to the Wi-Fi network was no problem with both devices. After that, I selected Entertainment, which was also no problem on both devices but once I tried to start a movie I found the first problem. I love to use the Dolphin Browser on my Androids, but somehow this browser is not compatible with the site, at least it doesn’t show the pop-up window where you have to select then the GoGo Video player. This issue was present on both phones.

Alaska Beyond 02 Alaska Beyond 05 Alaska Beyond 03

I tried the standard Internet Browser, which comes pre-installed on both devices. This app is just called “Internet”. Now I tried to open a movie on my Note 4 and it showed me the little pop-up window. I selected the GoGo Video player and the app opened and greeted me right away with an error message that my movie is not available. I thought maybe this movie is not in the database anymore and tried a couple other movies and TV shows, but always the same error message.

Alaska Beyond 04

Now I did the same thing on my Note 3 and every movie, I previously tried on the Note 4, was working right away. It started streaming and worked like a charm. I tried again on my Note 4, but there was no way to make it work. I ended up watching a movie on my Note 3 and the experience was fabulous. No lag during playback or any other disturbance.

I like this kind of entertainment system even more than the built-in solutions. You can use your own device (Smartphone, Tablet or even Laptop) and you don’t get disturbed if they make an announcement on the plane.

When you have the built-in entertainment systems, you will get paused a lot during take-off, when the crew gives you all the information and flight status, but you actually want to watch a movie. This doesn’t happen on Alaska Airlines entertainment system.

Next time I will try to test it with my laptop and the browser plugin, which is necessary for playback. I also will try it again with my Note 4. Hopefully, it was just a one-time glitch. In my opinion, it has to work right away.

Once I got it to work on my Note 3, it was a great movie watching experience. I am also very excited to try it next time with my laptop and see how good it will look on the big high-res screen.

Update:

Now, about 2 weeks later, I got another opportunity to test Alaska Airlines Beyond Entertainment and as promised this time with my Windows 8.1 laptop.

And I am shocked once more. First of all, it is not compatible with 64-bit Browsers. So if you use the 64-bit version of chrome for instance, you can’t playback any movies.

Alaska Beyond Chrome

I was surprised that it actually worked with Internet Explorer because the IE is not known for the best browser if it comes to plugins. The website you get once you are connected to the Wi-Fi and have installed the plugin is not very touch screen optimized. I had a hard time using it on my laptop’s touch screen. Especially the play/pause and full-screen button gave me a lot of trouble to exactly hit them. I can live with that, I mean hey I start a movie and hope I can watch it to the end, without interruption.

Internet-Explorer

I started watching Guardians of the Galaxy, by the way, a really great movie. After a while, next issue and I just wouldn’t believe it. The sound was terrible. I used my Bose in-ear headsets, which are great headsets, so no cheap headsets. Sometimes the sound just got cut for a glimpse of a second, but this makes the movie experience not very pleasant. I don’t know if it was my laptop, maybe my RAM was maxed out and that’s why? That is also a big issue of Windows 8, the memory management is terrible. Next time I will prepare myself and finish all my work and close all open windows and just run the browser to watch the movie. Let’s see what happens.

On the other side, I still didn’t have any luck to get my shiny new Galaxy Note 4 to work. Same error message as last time. And also my Note 3, which worked last time had some issues. I had to restart the phone to get it to work again. It looked like it, the phone still believed it was looking for the movies from my last flight a couple of weeks ago. After the phone rebooted it worked very well.

Can’t wait for the next time I can try it, but as of right now, I will not continue to use it once it becomes a paid service after March. Can’t use it on my nice big screen of the Galaxy Note 4 and sound issues on Windows Laptop.

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