Airline reviews Singapore Airlines Inflight Entertainment

Singapore Airlines Inflight Entertainment - Krisworld

NEWS: Singapore has mostly replaced its uncomfortable sit-in-the-ear headphones with new high quality headphones with an overhead band.

Singapore Airlines entertainment system is called Krisworld, and when launched it was the best inflight entertainment system onboard any airline. It is still pretty good, particularly with the uprated system used on the A380. Most aircraft have a variant that allows Audio Visual on Demand (or AVOD), allowing you to play a film when you want to. All aircraft have seatback TV screens in all classes on Singapore Airlines.
Singapore Airlines economy headphones EconomyNew headphones

Economy video screens come in at a giant 6 inches (10.6 inches on the A380) and with true stereo sound for some films. Films in stereo are indicated with a dolby symbol in the inflight magazine.

Economy headphones use twin 3.5mm jacks. The sockets will however let you use 3-pin noise cancelling headphones if

Economy IFE options - First has flip up pannels conceiling the ports - Singapore Airlines new twin-desk Airbus at Toulouse on the Reveal day, Oct 15th 2007
A380 First pannels (headphone & ports)
you can get hold of them. Most routes now use Singapore's new style high quality headphones with an overhead band, which are pretty good and deliver a nice bass sound. However a few flights still use the old style rather uncomfortable sit-in-the-ear headphones. Alas Singapore will only distribute headsets in economy for flights that exceed 2 hours in scheduled flight time, except for certain transit flights (such as Zurich to Manchester and Johannesburg to Cape Town) where the flight attendents will let you keep the headsets for the continuation flight.

Business (Raffles) class gets a giant 10.5 inch screen (15.4 inches widescreen on the A380), which alas is clipped to the seat infront, except in the emergency exit seats (upper deck) where there is a fold out screen which wraps up under the seat, or in the bulkhead (747 upper deck or 777 front seats) where it is screwed to the wall in front - and anoyingly far away.

Singapore Airlines sit in the ear headphones Economy Old style headphones
You will also be handed real noise cancelling headphones, which are lovely. Probably the best in use by any airline, they are increadably confortable, and so good at cutting out the noise of the plane, its like being in a cinema. Alas they are collected before the flight lands, to stop anyone from walking off with them.
Economy IFE options - Singapore Airlines new twin-desk Airbus at Toulouse on the Reveal day, Oct 15th 2007
A380 Economy handset & ports

First Class on the A380 has a giant 23 inch widescreen TV screen. In your armrest there is a flipup wood covered pannel with the USB and network sockets. Below this is another flipup pannel, containing your headphones.

Krisword comes in several variants. The first version was called the Wiseman 2000 system, which does not have AVOD. To check which system you have, if you are in Raffles on a non-spacebed equiped 777, look at the non-SpaceBed's cloth cover. If it is light blue there is no AVOD, whereas dark blue means there is AVOD. On aircraft such as the 777-200 without AVOD there are just 9 channels of films. However, while you are waiting for a film to cycle to its start, you can select an audio track and listen to that while watching the film timer countdown.

The later variant used on all the 747s and 777-300s is Wisemen3000, a video-on-demand-in-the-air system which should be a dream, but it is unreliable. It works just like a video player. You can start, play, rewind and even fast forward every film on the list, including 29 movies, 30 hours (50 features) of short TV features (like shorter film clips, documentaries and comedies), 50 music CD albums, and more than 30 Nintendo Games.

Economy IFE options - First has flip up pannels conceiling the ports - Singapore Airlines new twin-desk Airbus at Toulouse on the Reveal day, Oct 15th 2007
A380 First handset

The variant used on the A380, and which is being retro-fitted to the latest 777s is The new KrisWorld eX2. It offers all the usual AVOD, with 100 movies, more than 180 TV programmes, 700 CDs and more than 22 radio channels. The games have been uprated too to include multiplayer and 3D Games. But the best bit is there are PC applications, including a Word Processor, Spreadsheet and Presentation software. If you take along your files on a USB stick, you can work with them onboard. Just ask the crew for a keyboard.

Raffles noise cancelling Headphones Raffles Headphones

When you first switch on your screen to select Wisemen 3000 press mode on the remote until INT is shown on the display. If you are in video mode you can just channel hop by pressing the channel key. You then go through a heirarchial menu system, and watch a film showing how to use the handsets. To skip this intro press backwards. You are then invited to select language 1 and 2 - what the system doesn't tell you is that English is on language 1, and language 2 is either German or the original Asian language version. For all the Lufthansa codeshares you'll get a German soundtrack along with the English one.

Warning: Every Singapore flight I've been on has had a serious computer crash inflight, which brought down the entertainment system.

Main computer crash on the KrisWorld system - a common sight Main computer crash on the KrisWorld system - a common sight
With the older AVOD systems, it is quite common to get several Wisemen crashes in one hour, and to have the whole bank of seats operating off one computer node to be switched off for the duration of the flight. Until Singapore and Boeing solve their computer problems, the inflight entertainment system of Singapore must be regarded as "suspect". You'll know when you get a crash - either the buttons stop working, or, worse, a little windows style box (see picture) appears on the screen warning of fatal drive errors. These seem to occur most often when several people in the same seating bank are playing the computer games - the PC can't cope, and shuts down.
Economy IFE - Economy, Singapore Airlines new twin-desk Airbus at Toulouse on the Reveal day, Oct 15th 2007
Singapore A380 economy, lower mid cabin, IFE

The controls for the films are quite simple. The four coloured buttons on the remote are stop, play, rewind and fastforward. These seem to be implemented in a wacky way - what the instructions don't tell you is that you have to press the fast forward once to go forward and then press pause to see where you are in the film. This is particularly annoying in the adverts at the start of a film - the time counter doesn't update when you are in fast forward, so you won't know when the film starts!

Moving map display on Singapore Airlines
Moving map display on Singapore

When you select films, and then the title of the film, you'll get a short, text, synopsis. At this point you can press the yellow button to get a 5 minute trailler for it - and with some films that's all you need to know you shouldn't go near it.

Film selection is very good - there should be a couple of films which haven't made it to the UK box office yet, and other recurrents (films from the past year or so). On all flights there's a serving of 1 Spanish/Italian film, and 4 Asian ones (normally chinese) in the selection for the month.

There is audio on demand. You can build up your own track playlist - but the albums are very Asian and US orientated. There's virtually nothing from the UK charts from the past 10 years, but plenty of country and easy listening.

CNN headlines on a Raffles class bulkhead seat CNN headlines on a Raffles class bulkhead seat

There's a very pretty 3D map - the latest version from Boeing, which shows the aircrafts position on a world map, and shows how the hills look from the pilot's perspective. A nice change from the usual scrolling map. It's in News & Info then Flightpath. Alas when you are half way through watching a film you can't get to it directly.

KrisWorld - the inflight film listings
KrisWorld - the inflight film listings

There are news headlines in text form which are - theoretically - updated from CNN every hour. Alas they almost solely deal with US news, and are never updated at a weekend. A sad omission. However if you want the CNN news in vision, it's hidden under short features, then bulletin, and is 30 minutes long, and normally updated every day. It is also shown on the broadcast TV channel (number 98) in the first half hour of the flight.

There are 45 computer games. 31 are GameBoy games - the F1 race and SuperMario are the best here - and 14 PC games - all board games, and very dull. You can also challenge another passenger to a dual-player game of chess. FOr the new Wiseman system on the A380, there are full 3D games.

Economy IFE - Economy, Singapore Airlines new twin-desk Airbus at Toulouse on the Reveal day, Oct 15th 2007
Singapore A380 economy, lower rear cabin, IFE

The in-seat telephone can also be used to call other seats. To Enable this feature: On a 747 press 1, then "Incoming Off", select OK, and the display shows ON. On a 777 press On, then Func, then 2. To Dial a seat, press 1, select "Call Seat", then OK, then dial the seat number (in Row, number format) you want to dial.

Film listings are in the inflight magazine KrisWorld. Produced by Sparfax, it's got some OK reviews and synopsis, all in a very easy to read style. The film listings start about halfway through, and the short features are on a page hidden at the back, before you get to the lists of albums.