Indeed it is raining mobile phones every week these days. India being a price-sensitive market, every customer seeks a value-for-money handset. But they too want all the features such as multimedia as entertainment on the move has now become a need.
Spice Mobile has perhaps recognized this fact quite well.Recently it has brought the Popkorn M-9000 handset that comes with built-in mobile projector — a first in the Indian market. Basically it’s a mobile movie and presentation projection device friendly to your pocket.
Spice Popkorn M-9000 comes in a yellow and white striped box, resembling the popcorn container. Inside the box is the neatly packed handset that tags along a tripod stand, external canary yellow coloured speaker, laser pointer, earphones, charger, 1200mAh battery and a data cable. It is quite a big box for a mobile phone capable of carrying mini-theatre in your pocket.
First thing I noticed was the diamond shaped directional pad with a considerably sized stud in the middle. Apart from that, the phone carries quite contemporary design and styling for an entry level device. The keypad is in black while the outer rims are painted gun-metal steel colour. At the back, a 3.2 megapixel camera lens placed beside the speaker.
The handset itself weighs 123 grams but appears bit heavy. From the front it looks like any other entry-level device. On one side, lies the volume adjustment buttons and the projector control button is located on its opposite side. The top end of the phone features the projector lens covering the lamp. At the bottom you will find the microUSB port.
Display and Interaction
Popkorn M-9000 sports a 6 cm QVGA display that promises 262k colours. The screen is not that big, where you can enjoy your movies as you can do in a smartphone, but it is not so small that you’ll have to squint your eyes for text.
Supporting a decent 320×240 pixel resolution, the screen has been bolstered with a user interface that carries colours that wouldn’t be appreciated by a serious mobile phone user. Being said that, an average cool guy would certainly enjoy it.
Call quality is really decent and the reception is variable — dependent on the network. At times the call drops were experience while talking anywhere inside the building – cellular operators can be blamed for the same as it happened with the other handsets as well. Good part of this mobile being a dual-SIM handset is that I could use two different numbers as Master and Slave. There’s no front facing camera so forget about making a video call.
Visually, it would look nothing more or stand out amongst the crowd of other mobile phones. May be the diamond stud used as joystick will shine and catch your eye.
The major highlight of the Popkorn M-9000 handset is the built-in projector. Show movies, videos, Live TV, documents and images using the built-in phone projector. Best part is hooking up the handset to the bundled tripod stand, connecting it to the Canary Yellow speaker. Projection quality is decent – mostly on the white surfaces in a dark room.
However, if you plan to project something in a well illuminated room then project it on a black background. The video playback happens at 25 frames per second so ensure the video files carry the similar attributes or be ready to tear out some hair.
Adjust the projection with a turnable knob that is located at the back of the mobile on the top. Yes, the project does eat up the battery life but that’s the sacrifice you will have to bear with. Apparently, one can watch a TV show episode and the metallic back panel of the phone will not heat up much. But you can feel it getting warm. The Projector lamp life is 8000-1000 hours and it’s not like a never ending source. So ensure you use the projector judiciously. Bundled Laser pointer is extremely handy while projecting Presentations, Spreadsheets and Documents.
Multimedia and Camera
Popkorn has a 3.2-megapixel camera, which provides decent images that you can share through MMS, Bluetooth or can upload to the web. It is also capable of capturing videos.
The video player is capable of playing different popular formats such as – .3GP, .avi, .flv, .rmvb, .rm and .mp4. There’s not much you can store on the phone with 87MB memory and one needs to have 8GB or 16GB memory card handy for such leisure. The Music player allows you to play MP3 files and apparently the sound recorder application allows recording in WAV, AWB and AMR file formats.
Now here’s an interesting feature: During a call, you can just press key corresponding to Options on the screen and choose Sound Recorder to record the calls. Quite a handy feature to implement a sting operation!
Popkorn comes with Analog TV feature that will let you view and stay updated with the TV channels provided you’ve subscribed to something like the offerings from ZengaTV. Other than that, it’s very difficult to get free channels.
We, Indians, love Radio and thereby Popkorn features a FM radio with recording feature. Radio record scheduling will automatically record and save your favorite radio programs that you can enjoy later. Pull out the antenna and make the best of it. However, there’s just one glitch. Radio recordings aren’t audible via earphones and can be heard only through the speakers at the back of the mobile.
Applications and Accessories
Spice has loaded the Popkorn devices with all possible applications that you can use in your daily route. Ensure you have a good GPRS data connection plan if you plan to use the apps exhaustively. From eBook reader to the Opera Mini web browser, you can find majority of the most used things on this mobile phone. Fun Spice gives you direct access to the most useful apps like Opera Mini, Facebook, Snaptu, Ibibo, mobile tracker and others. The phone does carry ZengaTV app but it requires GPRS connection to view all possible channels through the same.
Document Viewer will let you view and project the Microsoft Office and PDF documents. Besides that, there’s an eBook reader app that will allow you to catch up with your favorite ebooks. Unfortunately, the eBook reader app supports only .txt file formats. There’s an interesting Incoming Call Guard feature to be used judiciously to avoid the unwanted telecallers. Got bored? Use VuClip, a mobile video search app to find a video that will make you laugh your guts out.
Spice has also been kind enough to pack a ‘File Manager’ that will let you browse, open and manage the files stored on the phone memory and the memory card.
Spice Popcorn handset with bundled accessories justifies its price of Rs 6,699. The projector is the unique selling proposition of the handset and it does not dissapoints.
Using projector and dual-SIM could be a downer for the battery life since neither would promise prolonged usage on single charge. You will be forced to carry the charger around just to be on safe side. Keeping the user interface and hard stud that will hurt your thumb aside the phone’s visual appeal isn’t that great. However, do not under estimate it. Popkorn M-9000 does pack enough features that will make you feel — money well spent.