I usually take along a magazine, a puzzle book, a novel and some DVDs to watch.
If you are sitting in coach (I can so relate) then you may be able to watch movies on a laptop, depending on its size. However, if the person in front of you reclines, you’ll be S.O.L. because you won’t have enough lap room.
I’m flying from Cincinnati to Hawaii again this year and I’m taking a portable DVD player. The downside is the battery life and video quality. Nothing beats the quality of the laptop for video quality. I also cannot stress enough the need to get nice headphones. Even at max volume, it can be difficult to hear the DVDs over the engine/cabin noise. Noise reduction models are popular and reasonably priced.
Another thing I’ll be adding this year is my iPod loaded with a few audiobooks and maybe even some t.v. shows. I’ve read where some networks will be offering FREE downloads of their popular shows this fall. If that’s the case, I’ll definitely be loading up. The video is amazingly good on the little iPod screen and you’ll be able to watch it no matter whether the person in front of you is reclining.