SPRINGVILLE, Utah February 17, 2010 – Hawaiian Airlines signed a new four year contract extension with leading handheld inflight entertainment provider digEcor, Inc. Since 2004, Hawaiian passengers have enjoyed the digEplayer 5500. Starting in the next few months, passengers will be able to rent the digEplayer XLP.

digEcor’s President Brad Heckel commented, “The implementation of the digEplayer XLP is the first step in a longer term strategic partnership between Hawaiian and digEcor. We are dedicated to providing our clients with a robust IFE solution including flexible hardware, low cost content, and revenue generative programs. These customer benefits are a result of the continuous improvement programs, such as Lean Manufacturing and Software Development, that we have implemented.”

The first phase of the new agreement includes the replacement of approximately half of Hawaiian’s current digEplayer 5500 inventory, with the remaining stock being replaced in phase two. Also, the digEplayer XLPs will be initially offered on longer, premium routes.

Fully committed to revenue sponsored entertainment, the agreement also includes provisions to implement new revenue generative programs such as shopping and advertising. “Hawaiian has one of the most impressive and well oiled IFE rental programs that we have seen in the industry. Currently, the revenue just from the rental program makes the digEplayer program one of the best ancillary revenue programs that Hawaiian has inflight. The addition of our new programs will further increase the profitability of the program for Hawaiian.”

Content Administrator Jed Thompson noted, “Our close relationship with the studios allows us to pass content cost savings to Hawaiian and our other customers.” Hawaiian’s Vice President Louis Saint-Cyr added, “The wide range of inflight content choices that we are able to provide our customers through our digEplayer program is one of the great reasons our customers love our IFE program.”

“With the downturn in the marketplace, we have taken the opportunity to engineer new product offerings and build flexible content applications focused on the financial and logistical needs of our customers and the airline industry,” observed Heckel.

Source: digEcor

digEplayer XLP - Source: digEcor

Over the past year, we’ve reported several times about digEcor and product prototypes and enhancements. Well, all of their hard work and time has come to fruition again as digEcor announced last week the release of the digEplayer XLP, the third generation digEplayer (a comparison of the players can be found on their website). With an increased battery life at a record setting 16 hours, the XLP is designed to provide airlines with longer flight segments an affordable, lightweight, and flexible IFE platform.

We caught up with President Brad Heckel and asked him a couple of questions. When asked what airlines could expect with this player besides the battery life, Heckel responded, “The XT has had one of the brightest and sharpest screens in the industry. After considerable research and testing, we found that we could increase the brilliancy of the screen even further by upgrading to an LED backlit screen. As an added benefit, the screen is lighter and more power efficient. When we field tested the screens, both flight attendants and passengers gave rave reviews.” So what are your clients and airlines telling you about the player, we asked? “We’ve had very strong interest in the XLP from a number of airlines spanning about every continent and we expect to see some deals close in the near future.” “The XLP has a number of similar features to the digEplayer XT,” he added, “which include the credit card swipe, exterior battery indicator, dual audio jacks, and Power over Ethernet content loading. We did however add an external DC jack for powering without a battery.”

We also got the inside scoop on some further developments at the Utah-based, portable IFE manufacturer. Expanding its wide variety of available content, digEcor now offers current documentaries from well-known news source CNN. We were impressed with acclaimed documentary offerings such as “Revealed” depicting the personal lives of some of the world’s greatest thinkers, champions, and leaders, which have been flying on seven of digEcor’s customers since May of this year. Content already available through digEcor includes Sony, Buena Vista, Warner Brothers, Fox, Universal, and a host of Independent and Regional suppliers. “Our IFE business is divided into two segments. One is the award winning hardware and the second is desirable, high-quality content. We have teams devoted to continuously enhancing and improving both of those offerings. Our content team works hand-in-hand with studios and distributors worldwide to procure airline requested content direct and reduce the cost by encoding in-house,” remarked Heckel. With a new portable offering that reaches the long haul airline demographic and increased content options, the next few months should prove to be very exciting for the portable pioneer as the industry prepares for the WAEA show in October. For more information on the digEplayer XLP, you can visit digEcor’s website. (Ed. Note: Readers, you should note that this new portable player product seems to be designed perfectly for the so-called, “imbedded IFE” system.)