The TrayVu Slim in-flight entertainment system features a clip that attaches to the seat tray

You’d think in this era of iPads and Androids and Kindle Fires that the need for an inflight entertainment system — at least one provided by the airline itself — would be minimized. But Seattle’s Skycast Solutions has found some initial success for its TrayVu Slim system, a portable inflight entertainment device that attaches to the tray table on commercial aircraft.

The company plans to announce Wednesday that Canada’s WestJet plans to be the first airline to deploy the system, rolling it out on two 737-800s in the coming days and then two more aircraft by the end of the year. The airline plans to have 68 units per plane, renting the devices to passengers, said SkyCast’s Greg Latimer.

SkyCast said that it beat out four other portable device makers for the WestJet contract, showing off an 8.9 inch Samsung tablet (running the Android OS) that does not interfere with the limited inventory of the tray table. (The company also has separate designs for tablets that integrate directly in the seat tray).

If this rings a bell for aviation and tablet geeks, you may recall that Skycast is led by none other than Bill Boyer. He’s the former Alaska Airlines baggage handler who nearly 10 years ago invented the digEplayer portable entertainment system.

It’s still unclear to me whether people will choose to rent a tablet from the airline to watch movies or play games, versus simply brining their own gadgets. But Skycast COO A. Pete Parsons addressed that question in our story on Skycast last September, noting that he believes people don’t necessarily want to pull out their own devices.

“Put a fully functional tablet at each seat and the impetus to drag out your PC or tablet is lessened,” he said.

Previously on GeekWire: “Practical Nerd: Alaska Airlines’ digEplayer enjoys a long flight to obsolescence”

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  • Arlington Albertson

    I agree with the final statement about “put it in every seat and no one wants to bring out their own”, however this must be universally deployed. Case in point, the vast majority of times that this has ever been tried appears to have failed miserably, however, look to Virgin Airlines (Virgin America is the only one I can personally vouch for), they have it built into every seat with a mixture of free content (while limited) and plenty of paid for content (unless you’re in first class or Main Cabin Select which get it all free).

    This system has on numerous occasions for me, provided a means of enjoyment and entertainment causing me to not want to bring my personal electronics out. However, if it wasn’t built in, and I had to request or, and worse pay for it/rent it, then there is no way I’d bother. I’d just pull out xyz device and make my own entertainment.

    Point is, install them or provide them for everyone, otherwise it just won’t be as successful. An alternative would be to provide them completely free of charge then still have the limited amount as not everyone wants them. Also provide some free content (a decent amount).

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