3D Mailbox flies the unnecessary skies

3D Mailbox received a thorough thrashing when it first released, and the visual e-mail client is back for more, but the resource-hogging application is more trouble than it's worth.

3D Mailbox
3D Mailbox

Back in July, I thoroughly thrashed 3D Mailbox for producing a solution to a problem that doesn't exist. Does anyone really need visual representations of e-mail messages? Isn't e-mail scary enough with all of the bogus sweepstakes offers and pharmaceutical enticements?

Based on the relative success of VisitorVille, an application for visualizing Web traffic, World Market Watch decided to venture into the e-mail space with 3D Mailbox, an application I labeled "extremely useless" this past summer.

The graphics of the free level are adequate; the avatars themselves are less polished yet still fairly attractive. However, the software is a total resource pig. It constantly grabs up to 95 percent of my CPU, unless reined in by adjusting the process' priority Process Explorer, which can't solve the problem completely.

Cargolux plane
Attachments of more than 70K require cargo planes that change based on destination. CNET Networks/3D Mailbox

The new addition of a Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) level to the package for subscribers might be an enticement for some aviation buffs like Daniel Terdiman, but I still can't recommend the application because of the high memory usage and resource-hogging behavior. Also, it's a Windows-only application. Mac users should consider themselves lucky.

Of course, the main problem with the software is not the implementation, but the idea itself. I appreciate the creativity and effort involved in bringing such a concept to fruition, but I don't know anyone who wants to spend more time managing e-mail.

In short, no matter how you jazz it up, e-mail is just no fun.

For a sneak peek at the new LAX level for 3D Mailbox subscribers, take a look at this CNET Download.com gallery that includes screenshots from the LAX level as well as the original, free beach level.

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