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Will these massive touchscreens distract you from the misery of air travel?

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Thales unveils 'Digital Sky' prototype with 21.3-inch seatback displays

Zach Honig / ThePointsGuy.com

There seems to be an inverse relationship between the sophistication of in-flight entertainment systems, and the amount of legroom on offer. The less space you have, the more you'll be distracted with movies, TV, and fast Wi-Fi. Case in point is a new prototype in-flight entertainment system from French aerospace firm Thales, which puts a 21.3-inch touchscreen directly in front of each passenger. The company unveiled the project — nicknamed "Digital Sky" — in Hamburg earlier this week, and Zach Honig of travel site ThePointsGuy.com managed to snap some pictures of the setup.

Portrait orientation isn't perfect for movies, but the size is immersive

As Honig points out, the portrait orientation of the LCD displays isn't ideal as it leads to a lot of blank space when watching videos. However, you can use the screen for other activities like playing games, browsing in-flight magazines, and exploring your location on a map. The sheer size of the display also makes the whole thing feel more luxurious and immersive — although some passengers might well find it oppressively large.

A closer look at Thale's prototype Digital Sky displays. (Image credit: Zach Honig / ThePointsGuy.com)

This is just a prototype, though, and it's by no means the only future for in-flight entertainment. Some airlines are experimenting with handing out tablets to passengers, as they're lighter than installing seat-back systems. Others are focusing on their streaming content and Wi-Fi, happy that people tend to bring their own devices. And if you're looking for in-flight entertainment that really shuts you off from the light misery of modern air travel, there are always virtual reality headsets instead.