Up-close with the Helio Ocean: Updated with Video

Vincent’s latest stop was with the guys from Helio, and they were showing off their new new Ocean. They were kind enough to hand it over for him to play with and of course, take a bunch of pictures. Hit the jump for his thoughts, a video walk-through and more pics.


Helio Ocean

UPDATE 5/11/2007:

First things first: sod the iPhone. Yeah, you read right, forget about it. Stop saving 10-percent of your pay-packet every month, don’t sign 18 to 24 months of your life away to Cingular, think laterally, not with the crowd. Helio have just blown everyone out of the water, and ironically they’ve done it with the Ocean.

Dual-slide for both number pad and full QWERTY. 3G for screaming downloads. Two-megapixel camera with flash, GPS, full HTML browser, 2.4-inch 260k colour QVGA display, on-board stereo speakers, 200MB of internal memory and microSD for more than 2GB more, USB Mass Storage Mode with PC and Mac compatibility… I’m throwing all this out in one fat chunk because if I were to talk you through it we’d be here all day.


Latest Helio handset is hot stuff

After notching up some pretty impressive performance figures over the past year, Helio is aiming to broaden its appeal with the launch of a new cellphone.  Slotting neatly in underneath the Drift, the Heat continues the MVNO’s partnership with Samsung and opens up what’s possibly a more budget-oriented customer keen to take advantage of the company’s strong mobile internet options.


Being Helio, when we say “budget” we don’t mean it in the same sense as a feature-lite phone on one of the big networks; the Heat is a super-slender slider with feather-touch electrostatic control pad, GPS, 1.99-inch QVGA screen and stereo Bluetooth support.


Helio Dual-Slider Messenger handset leaked on FCC

Helio Dual-Slider Messenger handset leaked on FCC

I’ve got a lot of love for Helio, and even more now with this SICK QWERTY-ready messenger handset (just need to remind myself not to call it a phone!).

While the official name is still unknown, it’s internally being called Pantech PN-810. The phone sports a similar design to Samsung’s F520 which – a dual slider. So basically when sliding the top layer up, in landscape view reveals a QWERY keyboard. And while in portrait view, sliding the top layer up reveals the number keypad. This is a very nifty design; and it’s about damn time Helio offers something this cool!

So what are the specs you can expect on this bad boy? First of all, EV-DO radio, 2.1-megapixel camera with built-in flash, and a 260k TFT LCD.

Dual-Sliding Messenger Phone for Helio Spotted on FCC Site [PhoneScoop]

Samsung A303 to sport Helio’s name?

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.

Helio gets fashionable Samsung A303 [PhoneArena]

Helio launch music downloads, reveal impressive performance figures

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. 


SlashGear Exclusive: Helio replies to Cingular’s MySpace Announcement

Earlier today I wrote about Cingular’s launch of their own MySpace integration app which, for $2.99 a month on top of your regular bill, lets you browse, search, upload pics and read/respond to messages on the popular social networking site.  At the same time, I got in touch with Helio to get their response to the news; remember, MySpace themselves were claiming Cingular would be “more expansive” than Helio’s service.

Justin Ried, Senior Manager, Marketing and Communications at Helio, told me: 

“In a short 7-months since launch, Helio has consistently been a step ahead of other carriers, launching custom services first like MySpace Mobile, GPS-enabled Google Maps for mobile and gifting & begging. And we’re continuing to build on our position of innovative leader in the wireless space – all so our members can stay in touch with their friends better, easier and in unique ways”

Helio Drift - Google MapsHe goes on to explain how Helio’s new MySpace application, available to download within the next sixty days, will boast features like enhanced camera integration for real-time sharing of photos on your profile, click-free access to alerts, friend requests, event invites and messages from the cellphone’s idle screen, improved functionality for editing your profile from your Helio including changing headlines, relationship status and images, all using a completely rebuilt cellphone UI with custom styles, improved graphics and animations.

Will this be enough to maintain Helio’s growing popularity?  It’s a cliché and a cop-out to say something like “only time will tell”, so I won’t.  Instead, how about some facts and a couple of presumptions: the Helio Drift, especially in its limited-edition Frost White form, is a sexy, competent handset that succeeds for the greater part due to Helio’s integration of services and hardware.  The route Cingular is taking – adding MySpace into its broad range of cellphones – means that the experience is only as good as the least capable handset; if I were Helio I’d be concentrating hard on picking the very best-of-breed to really showcase the services on offer. 

Cingular gets a slice of the MySpace pie

A little over a week ago I wrote that, with Helio’s exclusive contract with MySpace expiring all too soon for the MVNO’s liking, other network operators would be wanting a piece of the social networking pie.  In response, Helio is planning a dedicated app for its subscribers that will make MySpace interaction faster and cleaner.  Today, with the news that Cingular will be the first competing carrier offering MySpace on its cellphones, it might want to get that software out the door asap.

For $2.99 on top of a regular monthly package, Cingular subscribers will be able to upload photos taken on cellphones, read and respond to MySpace e-mails, update blog entries and view and search for friends direct from their handset.  Running as a Java app, with 30 popular handsets compatible on launch and a further 20 supported in the following few weeks, Cingular will also be adding online video support sometime in 2007.  MySpace has already put the boot in, claiming that Cingular’s version will be “more expansive” than Helio’s offering.

Call me a crusty old cynic, but how many people actually interact with MySpace via their cellphones, and how many would want to do that?

Cingular to offer MySpace on cellphones [Reuters]

Helio to up the MySpace ante with dedicated app

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.

Helio [via Engadget Mobile]

SlashPhone Video: Helio Drift’s Google Maps & Buddy Beacon

Over at SlashPhone we’ve been looking a whole lot closer at Helio’s GPS-enabled Frost White Drift, with some videos of the navigation, Buddy Beacon and MySpace functionality as well as a whole lot of opining.  If you know what’s good for you you’ll head on over there and take a goosey-gander, alright chuck?

SlashPhone Exclusive Videos of the Helio White Drift Google Map and Buddy Beacon [SlashPhone]

SlashPhone touchy-feely with Frost White Helio Drift

It’s a sumptuous day of cellphones don’t’cha think, and to ice the metaphorical cake nicely is the terribly limited edition Frost White Helio Drift.  SlashPhone, our cell-obsessed sibling, has managed to score one of apparently ten examples of this sexy little GPS-enabled handheld, promptly filming the unboxing and then coaxing it into the studio for a damn good photoshooting.


Is this mobile morsel the 3G phone to own, or just another attempt to coerce the MySpace generation into managing their social lives on the oh-so-small screen?  Right now we’ll have to sate our curiosity with a menu walk-through video and Vincent’s initial impression that it feels great in the hand and has some awesome features.  Keep checking SlashPhone for the full review!


Helio Hybrid PC Card blends 3G & WiFi

A whole lot of ultraportable laptops only have one PCMCIA slot, which means that expansion can be a chore.  Helio’s new Hybrid card attempts to circumnavigate any compromises between wireless standards by simultaneously supporting WiFi and EVDO 3G.

Now if you’re anything like me, you might be thinking “but my laptop already has WiFi, so, um, why would I want this?”  As far as I can tell, the value comes in the exclusive management software Helio bundles with the hardware – it seamlessly manages any number of 3G, paid-WiFi and free-WiFi connections through one, simple interface.  That way you can pay for one monthly subscription (rather than, say, a separate 3G data plan and T-Mobile style WiFi hotspot service) and have access to thousands of hotspots, backed up by nationwide EVDO coverage.


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