Spice is seriously on a roll these days. They’re just lapping up all the mobile technology they can get their hands on. Their latest offering is in the form of a world’s first – the first glassless 3D handset the M-67 3D Dual SIM mobile phone. It’s created quite a stir in the mobile community seeing as 3D is trend of the year and still gaining ground. So here’s a closer look India’s first official glassless 3D mobile handset.

Form Factor
In the looks department the M-67 doesn’t fare too badly with its lightweight streamlined look, but the black and gold combo does look a tad gauche. The keypad layout, while it looks neat, is too flat. And even though the keys look large, the flat surface and hard press setting makes quick typing a bit of an effort. For some inane reason, Spice has gone ‘unconventional’ with this handset with a proprietary USB/charging port (located on one side) and 2.5mm handsfree socket. It has no hot swap for the microSD card slot (1/2GB included) and if you ever need to remove the ‘Slave’ SIM’, better set aside a few minutes for this otherwise easy task.

Simple design but they keypad is a bit too hard

So much for the overall design but let’s get to the display. The M-67 is equipped with a 2.36-inch LCD panel with a 240 x 320 resolution. But for 3D purposes this display isn’t quite as ordinary as your standard mobile phone LCD. The M-67 3D uses an auto-stereoscopic display which means that it doesn’t require 3D glasses to view images or video in 3D. The film that one would normally have on their passive 3D glasses is already a part of the display so to speak. There’s even a 3D shortcut key (doubles as the ‘*’ key) that allows you to switch to a 3D UI.

Features and Performance
The saddest part is that the Spice M-67 3D features the same UI as any of the other handsets out there. The 3D UI is a bit gimmicky and doesn’t really convert all screens to 3D. The switching can be pretty hard on the eyes. At the end of the day it’s still the very same Java based platform with a bit of ‘3D’ (I’m using the term loosely here) thrown in. However, navigating the menus etc. is a speedy process and there’s no lag even while typing. One big issue that was persistent throughout my testing period was that the call volume was a little too low for my liking. I was heard clearly enough but found it a little hard to hear others when I was outdoors or indoors. Dual SIM management is well handled.

Proprietary and non-standardized ports are never a good idea

There’s not much to complain about in the music department. Audio quality was not too bad although the higher frequencies came in a bit on the sharper side. This can be ‘tuned’ by using the presets or creating your own via the 8 Band customizable setting. The treble will still be overly evident but far less obtrusive if you’ve adjusted it right. The FM radio worked out well with reception being quite clear in most areas including my commute. It also has a recording function that you could pre-schedule to save your favourite shows.

Now for Spice’s big ‘sell’, 3D Video. The player allows you select either 2D or 3D content (videos and images) but watching these videos isn’t the easiest task. It can be quite a strain on your eyes again. I was told I would be able to download 3D video content off of YouTube, convert the files and play them on the M-67 3D. So I did, suffice to say, that didn’t work out too well. The formatting was skewed. It tends to convert all the files, expect for the ones that came bundled with the 1GB card. At least those, even though the frame rate was obviously unmatched for the handset’s capabilities, did offer reasonably viewable 3D imagery. The same goes for some of the image files. I do not recommend trying to watch full length movies or any clips that last more than 30 seconds of so. You’re going to walk away with quite a headache.

A few games were preloaded and so were an image editor and a sound recorder.
Spice’s M-67 3D is a GPRS enabled handset that will work just fine (but slowly) if you’re on a basic WAP plan as well. The native browser is quite slow, but this is nothing new. Spice has tossed in a plethora of goodies with the M-67 including a slew of Yahoo! features from access to mail and Flickr. The Spice FunSpace Section you’ll find quick links to Facebook, Vuclip, Wapdia, Nimbuzz for chatting, Reuters, Just dial, Free SMS and Mgurujee. Except for Nimbuzz and a couple of the other apps, the rest are simple links to the mobile web pages. Bluetooth with A2DP and USB connectivity that allows you to use the camera as a webcam and the handset as a com port for tethering are also available.

The key to 3D

Misc. Features
Other than the mundane features that any and all handsets come with like the calendar, alarm clock, calculator et al, the M-67 3D also features an Ebook reader and couple of handy security functions. The security options include a Mobile tracker as well as a Remote Wipe option to erase all data off the handset in case of a theft. All you need to do is send a single message and that’s it. There’ also a privacy option that you can you to password protects your phone book or messages. There's even a Blacklist function for both calls and messages. A superb way to avoid getting those annoying spam marketing messages or sales calls.

The 2 megapixel camera is as basic as they come. The only features worth mentioning are the Night Mode and White Balance. The image quality is just plain bad. It seems like the camera has major issues with focus. No matter how still I remained, images would come out blurry. Portions with excess light tend to get burnt out quite badly as well.

Lacks any kind of focus

The 1100mAh battery included with M-67 3D is quite capable of sustaining the handset’s usage for two whole days with a good amount of talk time and messaging. I was also able to get a bit of music in.

The Bottom Line
It’s astounding that anyone could come up with a device incorporating this technology for such a ridiculously low price. As much as I hate to admit it, I was impressed when I first heard the news, but after my overall experience, the moment has passed. Even as a Rs. 4,999 handset the M-67 3D is not one of the Spice’s models I’d recommend. It’s just another Dual SIM handset out there with a singular feature that should have made it stand out, but alas, this one’s just going to get buried under the ton of new handsets that will roll out in the same range.

While I’m immensely proud of the fact that an Indian company is one of the first to bring this technology out into the light so quickly, I do wish they had take a little more time to perfect it. Sorry Spice but we’re still a little ways of from a full blown 3D mobile experience. The overall ‘3D’ experience that the Spice M-67 offers isn’t anything to write home about and the handset as a whole is quite unimpressive.

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