Helio Ocean waves into the US

  • Los Angeles (CA) - The double-jointed, multi-keyed Helio Ocean phone has found its way to the United States.   The advanced device contains multiple features Helio says have not been seen in previous phones.

    Helio promotes the Ocean as being a phone devoted to all forms of communication.  The manufacturer claims it is the first dual-sliding phone that incorporates a traditional numeric keypad as well as a full Qwerty keyboard.

    The new phone from Helio, which offers service exclusively from joint partner SK Telecom, is more than double the price of either of its other two handsets.

    The Ocean has support for over-the-air music downloading and video streaming, and includes a two megapixel digital camera with GPS tagging capabilities.  The phone also has a full web search box from the device menu, which Helio claims is an industry first.

    The curved candy bar style phone folds out to a mobile computer design.  It integrates all major instant messaging applications, standard text messaging, and multimedia messaging into one interface.  In addition, the phone supports IMAP and POP3 e-mail forwarding with push mail from Yahoo, AOL, and MSN.

    Another new feature Helio says is new to the US market is advanced notification of contacts who are using IM services.  For example, when a user begins to type in a friend's name, if that friend is using AOL Instant Messenger, a corresponding icon will show up on the screen.

    Also, there is an option to automatically pull up a web search box whenever the user begins to type on the Qwerty keyboard.  Rounding out the feature list are a 2.4", 260K QVCGA display, Bluetooth integration, and an almost unheard of 200 MB of internal storage, which can be expanded with the microSD card slot.

    It's the first phone from Helio to feature a dual-sliding feature.  Both other handsets, the Heat and the Drift, are standard flip phones, both of which also have GPS, a 2 MP digital camera, and access to 3G phone applications.

    The phone is available now from Helio's website.  For new customers, it costs around $300 with a service contract.  The actual list price is $415.  Because the service is offered proprietarily from Helio, most mobile stores will not stock the new phone, but the company says the Ocean will have a retail presence.

    In a somewhat puzzling move, the phone is set to hit GameStop and EB Games first, on May 21, because of its advanced mobile gaming power.  The specialty game chain has only offered one phone before, the nuclear bomb known as the N-Gage.  Other unspecified stores will be stocking the Ocean in the weeks to follow.