I love technology, me, so when a maintenance issue got me a ride in a new A380 instead of the 747-400 I was a little stoked at the idea of trying out the latest chairside hardware.
After a quick kip only cut short by the artiic cabin temperature, I grabbed the handset and had a crack. One of the first things I noticed was that Star Office was installed - which is what this is being typed on now. (Note that it was post processed to remove the vast number of typos which are excruciating to remove with the tiny handset)
Those with a history of compact keyboards would appreciate the competing needs of ease of use and reduction in accidental keypresses, the former being addressed in this case by a tiny qwerty keyboard, the latter by a keypress pressure requirement about the same as that which you'd need to crack walnuts.
So tough are the keys that I find myself accidentally pushing the inflight buttons on the other side of the handset as I scramble for leverage – resulting in the strobelike activity of my reading light and the unneccessary paging of the very forgiving Singapore air attendants. (I note the USB and LAN ports beside my screen, so perhaps a USB keyboard might something for carry-on in the future – though I'd probably then ALSO need a USB hub so that I could load the drivers for the keyboard (that would inevitably be required...))
In any case the Star Office suite and file manager are available and seem to work as expected should you wish to pen some last words in the event the plane gets into difficulties - though you'd need to remember to save them to the fireproof USB key as the Black box is unlikely to have a stack of flash devoted
to user documents. (In reality though, you'd be ancient history by the time the Star Office splash screen finally disappeared – being thin client technology and all – so perhaps paper and tinfoil is a safer option..)
Whilst I like the option of Star Office in the plane it's a gimmick rather than something particularly useful – but at least they're trying.
The only other tips I have from my experiences are that if the light under the screen goes on by itself you'll be probably be waiting a minute or two before the ERR message comes up on the handset and a further twenty minutes or so before the whole thing resets itself. ...