The best part about being in this field is that you hear about so much interesting technology and developments in the field. The worst part about it is that sometimes the chances of us actually seeing that tech before it gets outdated is just too bloody low. The Modu Modular mobile handsets were developed way back in February of 2008 by an Israeli company and it’s taken this long to get here. Micromax is acting as the official distributor of the devices and the corresponding jacket technology that goes with it. They’ve got a rather unique USP, although not necessarily the most sensible in this day and age. Allow me to elaborate.
The handset itself is tiny, in fact it’s been called the smallest and lightest (55g) 3.5G enabled handset out there. The only stiff competition it has would be LG’s GD910 watch-phone that’s wearable. The 2.2-inch resistive touchscreen features a 240 x 320 pixel resolution and a singular physical button on the side that serves as both the power key as well as one to lock the screen. In the left hand corner, just below the display, is a touch sensitive return key that helps with navigating the menus. A couple of hot swap slots for the memory card (supports 32GB microSD) and SIM cards are located on either side of the device. The thing is they really aren’t your conventional hot swaps, as you’re going to require a re-boot in order to access either card. Another irritation is that they aren’t the push and pop out kind of slots either, so getting the cards out isn’t the easiest task. Incidentally, the Modu T comes with 2GB of on board memory.
A proprietary port at the bottom, right beside the micro-USB port (for charging and PC connectivity), is designed to fit into the various jackets that are created for this device, two of which are available with the handset. It’s more like one, actually, since the second is simply an arm band you slip it into while you’re jogging. The first jacket included by Micromax is one that’s equipped with a 5 megapixel autofocus camera and single LED flash. A shutter release for the camera is built into the camera jacket, and so is a micro-USB port for all purposes.
The Modu T may not have much in the way of style, but it’s as simple as they come. And as small as it is, it does feel comfortable to use and carry around. However, having multiple jackets for different purposes is a little weird and translates to having to tote more than just your phone around, depending on what you want. It’s a novel idea that had merit about two years ago, but right now it’s just a little more stuff than I care to have around.
Features and Performance
The Modu T uses a version of Qualcomm’s Brew OS, quite unlike the Android-ish version seen on the HTC Smart. But is that enough to classify it as a Smartphone? Well Micromax thinks not. It uses gesture swipes to access various functions – swipe to the right to access the phone, downward for a quick access menu to phone functions, left for web apps and upward for the main menu. Sadly though, the UI is sluggish and not the most responsive. Although the keypad was large enough to use even for stubby fingers like mine, the lag between a press to letters showing up was too high. The menu system is neatly laid out, but scrolling can sometimes be very jittery. So on the whole, the UI was really not up to par.
The device handles music quite well. It’s capable of reading MP3, AMR, MIDI and WAV formats. Audio quality is good overall, but the higher frequencies tend to be a little sharp. A set of EQ presets are also provided to help enhance the overall experience, but won’t curb the sharper tones. A function called ‘Clap to Play’ is also thrown in but all I did was look absolutely ridiculous clapping into my phone and it just sitting there doing nothing. A playlist can also be created while on the go and tracks easily added to it when necessary. The built-in FM radio also worked out quite well, providing a decent amount of reception even while commuting. The speakerphone is loud enough to have a conversation with someone easily (in a relatively quiet indoor area), or to listen to music and ruin the day of some poor commuter nearby.
Video format is rather conventional – 3GP and MPEG4 in low resolution formats. The screen is a bit small for watching full-length films at a stretch, so I wouldn't recommend that. However, short clips work out just fine. The Video section in the Gallery refused to pick up supported videos off of the microSD; I had to play them via the File Manager, but copying them into a specific folder for videos will help sort this out. There are also plenty of games loaded onto the Modu T and with Java support you can download more. There’s also a link provided in the Downloads section where you can get some more.
With 3.5G connectivity up to 3.6Mbps (not that we have the services up and running yet) you’re assured speedy connectivity to your social networks (via Snaptu and individual apps), video Streaming via a dedicated YouTube app and generally faster web browsing. In lieu of 3G connectivity, your basic EDGE/GPRS or Wap connection will also get you hooked up to the net. The native browser is just about good enough to get basic browsing done, just don’t count on it for heavy sites or expect speedy performance. In a nutshell it simply gets the job done. Support for IMAP and POP3 email is also part of the package. The Web apps also include access to Flickr, TuneWiki, Google Search and eBuddy for chatting through your favorite IM services.
The handset also supports Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP and USB 2.0.
The Modu T may actually be one of the very few handsets that come devoid of a Calendar option for keeping scheduling and appointments. If it’s there, it’s quite well hidden. It does come with an Alarm clock and Calculator though, but that’s it. No world clock, no unit converter nothing. That’s quite a turn off.
The Sportify armband and bundled handsfree kit are quite comfortable to use. Far be it from me to actually test it out in the field, I asked a friend to use it for a bit. The Sportify application allows you to listen to music while on the go as well as keep track of your work out. You can input your personal details like Age, Height and Weight and let the device be your handy little helper while on your daily run. It calculates how far you’re traveled, has a stopwatch, pedometer and calorimeter. I’m told it’s quite handy for those whose primary workout is cardio.
The 5MP camera jacket is snug and has provisions for very few features or settings. Other than a reduction in size, it offers no zoom whatsoever at 5MP resolution. There’s no difference in quality if taken in Sports mode or Normal and night mode shots are not too great either. Another option available is to switch the flash on or off. Start up and image processing is a painful procedure, so you can forget about trying to capture those spontaneous “Kodak” moments.
In normal outdoor conditions though, image quality was not too bad. The images appear quite sharp and focused in most parts, but moving objects tend to get a bit blurry. The flash is also quite delayed and tends to over instisify most close ups. But macro shots outdoors are pretty good.
You’re going to have to charge this handset up every single day even if you hardly used it. Talk time averaged in at just about 2 hours and change, what can you expect from a 500mAh battery. The battery is sealed into the handset like the iPhone or N8.
The Bottom Line
Micromax and Modu have priced the Modu T at Rs. 10,500 (MOP). Guinness may have awarded the handset the World’s Lightest Touchscreen Phone but that’s not nearly enough to make it worth buying. The lack of Wi-Fi, a sluggish UI and a few other quirks doesn’t make the bundled camera jacket a saving grace from this being an otherwise very, very average handset. Micromax also told me that jacks would make their way here at a later date, but I’m sure that largely depends on the handset’s sales taking off - and I don’t see that happening.
|Screen Resolution||320 x 240|
|EGPRS or EDGE||Yes|
|Talk Time with Standard Battery||180|
|Standby Time with Standard Battery||8 Days|
After Sales Service
Published Date: Dec 08, 2010 04:00 pm | Updated Date: Dec 08, 2010 04:00 pm