So Helio, our, well at least, my favorite mobile provider and purveyor of some of the best devices on the market, cut about 100 jobs the other day. Thankfully, they didn’t cut them because of financial woes, in fact it’s quite the opposite.
They cut those jobs because July was a record month for the company and August has already beat that record by at least 25%, which caused them to take notice of where they weren’t making money. So, they are still in business, and it looks like they will be for a while.
I'm a person that loves choices, especially when it comes to my web browser. Even back when I was younger I was a Netscape kid, then again I was a Mac kid too. Nowadays I use Firefox, and I've got no complaints. I know that many people are starting to turn to Opera, so much so that the guys over at Heliocity have hacked the Ocean to support their favorite browser.
Have you noticed that if you try to get on MySpace by using its URL to view the website outside of 'Myspace on Helio' you simply can't? I mean sure, one of Helio's biggest boasts is their access to Helio that - until recently - no one else had. Although I like this feature it just seemed so plain. It worked fine; other than viewing pictures according to caption names it wasn't bad at all. You could always find other users, view friends, post comments, message, and all of the other wonderful things you can do on MySpace. One thing is for sure though, I just wanted something different, which is why a part of me was happy to get the Helio Ocean because I could view MySpace whichever way I chose. Wrong!
The Helio Ocean is well covered on SlashGear, so everyone should be familiar with its features as well as what it’s capable of. In case you need to get up to speed, take a look at this page then you can come back to this article and understand why I’m so excited about the Ocean.
As you already know, the Ocean arrived this morning and I’ve spent the last eight or more hours diving into this beast. The most important point I want to get across to anyone looking to purchase the Ocean is this: keep your expectations in check. It’s a well-featured device (don’t just call it a “phone”), however Helio never intended the Ocean to act as a smartphone in the traditional sense – future versions of the Ocean, perhaps, just not this one. Okay, that being said lets delve first into the “personal entertainment center”, or media player. It supports MP3, AAC, WMA, MPEG-4, H.264, VOD and MOD files formats. While in video mode, flipping from portrait mode to landscape mode is as easy as clicking the down button on the D-Pad or you can simply flip up the Ocean’s screen. Since the Ocean isn’t a smartphone, it doesn’t handle multi-tasking; you can’t use any other applications such as IMing while listening to music or watching a video. The software does allow you to surf or buy music from Helio Music store, though. While you enjoy your tunes, you’ll still be notified when someone send you an instant message.
Now that the highly anticipated Helio Ocean is finally in my hands, months of sleepless nights will come to and end. SlashGear is one of a handful of lucky sites to get the first production version of the Ocean. There is simply so much to test out and write up before I can adequately write a full review. However, before you go and watch the unboxing video and salivate over the images, I have one word – WOW!
PhoneArena got a tip in which reports that Helio will get a second Samsung phone after the Drift. The article goes on to say that it’s geared towards fashion conscious consumers, featuring a glossy black finish. It’s got a sleek, touch-sensitive screen, in a slider form factor similar to the Chocolate.
Other features include EVDO and 140BM onboard memory and a 1.3-megapixel camera.
I’m shocked to be reading this article because Helio is tight lip, similar to Apple. Announce today and it goes on sale today type mentality.
Our appreciation for Helio has been thinly veiled here on SlashGear - it's great to see an operator in the US actually innovating rather than playing catch-up to services that've been available elsewhere in the world for what seems like eons - and yet with competitors like Cingular beginning to branch out into MySpace, previously a Helio-only domain, the future of the MVNO looked potentially shaky. Still, the best way for them to compete is to carry on developing good services, and that's what they seem to have done today with the announcement of Helio Music.
On-phone music download services aren't new, but easy-to-use and fairly priced ones are few and far between. Helio are obviously trying to occupy that ground.
"Helio Music is a throwback to the corner record shop, combining great selection with a music-loving staff that can help you quickly find what you’re looking for, and a comfortable environment where it’s fun to just browse and discover" Sky Dayton, Helio CEO
A growing library containing artists from Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, Sony BMG, and EMI Music, complete with artist bios, images, preview songs and community recommendations as well as full search options.
Having pawed lasciviously at a limited edition Frost White Helio Drift, finding the GPS and "buddy beacon" features useful while the MySpace integration good if you're heavily into your social networking, it comes as no surprise that Helio are planning to up their game in the very near future. MySpace Mobile v.2 will be a free download for Helio subscribers, a dedicated application for the site that promises speed increases of up to five times. If I'm honest, I think this is something that should've been part of Helio's service from the very beginning; it certainly would've quieted the critics who pointed at the browser just about every modern cellphone has and said "why go with a specific operator?"
It's not all wine, fine cheeses and roses however. Helio's exclusivity contract with MySpace expires very soon, meaning the other operators will be looking for a piece of the pie faster than a pie-loving cheetah. Helio must be hoping that a dedicated app, together with new profile editing tools, speedier image uploading and "idle mode" functionality for displaying new messages and alerts on the handset's home screen, will help it keep its edge.