Indian handset manufacturer Spice is unveiling its innovative Movie Phone later today, but I've had a go on it already. It's the first handset to come with a built-in optical disc drive for playing movies, and goes on sale in India this June. The discs are a proprietary format, but they use blue laser technology, and the compression uses the H.264 standard.
The phone has a 2.8-inch screen, and its headphone jack doubles as a TV-Out port for connecting to a big-screen TV. But it's that optical drive that makes it stand out - you slot the tiny discs into a tray that pops out from the back of the phone - much like loading UMDs into a PSP.
You can fit a two-and-a-half hour film onto one of the discs - and a bit more if the compression is tweaked. The 40 films that'll be available at launch are mainly Bollywood movies, and Spice told me they're readying 1,000 more through deals with studios. The films will be sold in mini DVD-like cases for the equivalent of $5.
More shots over the jump...
Here's a shot of how the disc drive works:
And here's a shot of one of the discs:
Nothing's been announced regarding distribution outside India and South East Asia yet. Could the Spice Movie Phone be a hit in the West? The flop of UMD, even when backed by Sony, indicates a challenging market for distributing films on yet another disc-based format, compared to sideloading films onto a phone digitally. But you never know...
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