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3D Mailbox: So bad it's...bad

It's hard to know where to start when trying to describe the new free email client 3D Mailbox. Even after finding ourselves slack-jawed at the website and the video of this software in action, we still wanted to reserve final judgment until we'd actually had a chance to get under the hood and check it out for ourselves. Although we were never able to actually get the software to work, despite trying it on four different PCs, it's probably just as well because what little time we did spend with 3D Mailbox had us reaching for our antacids faster than you can say, "Who thought this up?"

Apparently, the intention of this little gem of a client is to make reading email more fun. Frankly, most of us just want to see our inboxes empty once in a while. We were willing, though, to go along with the premise that checking email could be something to look forward to these days. Unfortunately, 3D Mailbox makes peering into your inbox a truly frightening adventure.

First, picture Second Life. Got it? Next picture a drunken frat party gone awry. Now, in your mind's eye, merge the two. That gives you a rough approximation of what to expect from the visual interface of 3D Mailbox. Each piece of incoming mail is invited into a world designed to resemble a beach. Before being processed, each email is transformed into an animated human figure dressed in a string bikini or swim trunks.

Next, the anthropomorphized email steps up to meet the "bouncer" positioned at the entrance of this private beach, a burly guy who "checks IDs" to see if the mail is spam. Once cleared, the person-mail stops in the shower room to rinse off (seriously -- we couldn't make this stuff up), then hops up on the diving board and executes a perfect swan dive into the swimming pool, also known as the inbox.

All your people-mail swims around, to and fro, until you get a chance to read it. Teenage boys will like this feature since the girl-mail does the backstroke while waiting for you. Once an email is read, it hops up on a lounge chair (where the girls inexplicably have donned high heels to match their bikinis) until they're deleted or moved to another mailbox to keep. Once moved to a permanent folder, they will roam about the "cabana," drinking and mingling with the other mail. We don't want to know what they do when you turn off the computer.

We'll give 3D Mailbox credit for the clever way it deals with spam. That heads directly to the ocean where it is unceremoniously eaten by sharks. Sadly, that small bit of hilarity is offset once you notice that the "good" mail is depicted by animations designed to look like overly-implanted supermodels and the "bad" mail is represented by great big flabby guys with bizarre tattoos. We just love it when our email client perpetuates obnoxious stereotypes, don't you ?

Downloading the software was a very simple process, but installing it was another matter. It's awfully persnickety and demands that your PC have DirectX 9 and that your video card have Vertex Shader and Pixel Shader. If you aren't sure if your computer can accommodate these requirements, there's a handy system checker on the download page you can use to find out. As previously pointed out, despite repeated attempts, we weren't able to actually get this software to run which, in retrospect, was probably a blessing in disguise.

Tags: 3D, bad, email, inbox, mailbox