Dive Into the Helio Ocean

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Youth-oriented mobile operator Helio is bringing another high-tech handset to the U.S. market in the form of the Helio Ocean. The Ocean is designed to combine the best features of traditional phone handsets and messaging-equipped mobile devices, while packing the music, video, and Internet capabilities today’s hip technology power-users want. And the first thing you’ll notice is the Ocean’s dual-slider design, enabling the unit to offer both a traditional numeric phone keypad and a full QWERTY keyboard for messaging and online use.

“Finally, you don’t have to choose between a device that’s good for talking but a nightmare for messaging, or one that’s good at messaging but feels like you’re holding a brick up to your face when you try to make a call,” said Sky Dayton, CEO of Helio, in a statement. “With Ocean, Helio has changed the shape of 3G with a new kind of device—the dual slide—a design that doesn’t compromise on voice, text, IM, email, surfing, and every other way you want to stay connected.”

Besides the dual-slide design, the Ocean features a 2.4-nch QVGA (320 by 240 pixel) display which toggles between portrait and landscape modes, a 2 megapixel camera, Bluetooth wireless, 200 MB of internal memory (which can be complemented by microSD expansion cards), and external stereo speakers. On the media front, the Ocean supports MP3 AAC, and WMAaudio, and MPEG-4 and H.264-encoded video. in addition to music- and video-playback features, the Ocean enables listeners to stream trakcs over the air from Helio Music, play 3D and multiplayer games, hook into Google Maps with the unit’s built-in GPS technology, and post to MySpace. And let’s not forget Helio’s Buddy Beacon, which lets friends see each other’s locations on real-time maps. The phone also offers a spate of messaging and Internet capabilities, including a full-featured Web browser, instance messaging, email, and Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync for coordinating email, calendars, and contacts from Exchange Server. Helio also touts the Ocean;s “click-free” search: just start typing on the QWERTY keyboard while the unit’s idle and it automatically converts over to search mode: no need to pull up a search box or function.

“We started working on Ocean before Helio was officially a company,” said Dr. Wonhee Sull, Helio President and COO. “We envisioned our ultimate device, what future customers would want to carry, and with our company’s unique technology and design assets, we created a form factor and an experience that’s a world’s first. Ocean is the result of the passionate dedication and hard work of countless innovative Helio employees and technology partners.”

The Ocean is made for Helio by Pantech. which also provided Helio with the Hero handset when the company launched in 2006.

Helio says the Ocean will launch in “spring of ’07″—which we interpret to be sometime before mid-June&mdahs;at a suggested price of $295.