By David Ponce
So this is it then. The official end of craptacular mobile service in America.
Helio is launching!
In case you haven’t heard, here’s the skinny. Helio noticed (like any devout reader of gadget blogs already knows) that mobiles in America are generations behind their Korean counterparts. So… what to do? Go to Korea (to Pantech and Curitel specifically) and bring over two wicked handhelds, of course. Then, create a service that doesn’t suck. One that lets you use some very interesting services, without nickel-and-diming you all along. You pay for one package, and you use as much as you want.
Just what sort of service, you ask? We’re talking 3G video and music streaming on either of two devices (the Hero, a slider, pictured, and the pearly white swiveling Kickflip) with 2.2 inch, 262K-color high-resolution QVGA LCD displays, removable memory, and a 2.0 megapixel camera with digital zoom and flash for capturing pictures and video. Things like Helio-On-Top, a customisable idle-screen programming that lets you get news, weather, real-time traffic updates, the latest celebrity news, or sports scores.
Or, my favorite, “Gifting and Begging”… That’s a service that allows you to make wishlists of programming you’d really like to own (like music videos), and sending these to whoever you want to pester for their purchase.
The Hero costs $275 and the Kickflip $250. The extra $25 buys you a video co-processor and some stereo speakers. The All-In packages start at $85 for 1,000 anytime minutes… and a bunch of things that are too long to enumerate out here. To that end, I’ve pasted the entire press release inside, for your reading pleasure.
The mobiles are available now through their site, and at over 1,000 retail locations by the end of May, like Fry?s Electronics, FYE, Sam Goody…
Also, the two devices are being shipped this way for our reviewing pleasure, so stay tuned for that.
Helio is here
Innovative 3G Services, Exclusive Devices and Personalized Service & Support
LOS ANGELES, CA ? May 2, 2006 ? HELIO LLC, a new mobile service designed for young, connected consumers, today announced its immediate nationwide availability through helio.com,
888-88-HELIO and through approximately 1,000 retail locations by the end of May. Helio?s service leverages the power of 3G plus the multimedia features of its exclusive launch devices ? Hero and Kickflip? ? to give its members unique community features like MySpace on Helio, gifting and begging of content, group picture and video messaging, and dynamic news feeds to keep them connected to friends and information in new, unique ways.
?Helio is custom-built for the lifestyle of young people who have their mobile device at the center of their universe,? said Sky Dayton, CEO HELIO LLC. ?Mobile devices are with us all the time and they shouldn?t be limited to making calls, sending text messages and downloading content. With Helio, mobile is about staying connected in innovative ways where sharing your world includes content like videos and games, or unique personalization that you know your friends will love. These are things that have been happening on the Internet for years, but haven?t been taken mobile ? until now.?
At launch, Helio?s service portfolio includes the following:
MySpace on Helio
MySpace on Helio is a mobile service designed specifically for MySpace users that allows them to post photos directly from their Helio device to their MySpace page as part of a bulletin, message, comment or personal picture collection. The mobile service offers a look, feel and overall user experience true to the online MySpace environment while optimizing it for mobile. This includes the ability to read and write MySpace mail, post and reply to bulletins, read and write blogs, view profiles and add new friends as you meet them ? all directly from your Helio device. Helio members also receive extra photo storage on MySpace. Unlimited access to MySpace on Helio is included in Helio?s All-In Memberships.
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Helio On Top (H.O.T.)
Helio On Top (H.O.T.) gives all Helio members click-free access to their favorite content and information. The service, developed by Helio and exclusive to its devices, lets members program live content feeds to be sent directly to their Helio device idle screen. Whether it?s news, weather, real-time traffic updates, the latest celebrity news, or sports scores, the innovative Helio On Top service makes access less than a click away. Helio members can personalize their live feeds by selecting from an assortment of sources for 10 different live ?channels.? Helio On Top content partners include Fox Sports, IGN, MTV News, MySpace, POPSUGAR, Surfline, The Onion, Yahoo! and more.
Helio?s robust messaging platform supports video, picture and text messaging and adds unique features that enable users to quickly and easily share experiences with multiple friends at one time. Helio members can share extended video messages up to one megabyte, while many other carriers cap messages at 300kb. Also, members can attach up to three pictures in one message and broadcast to up to five friends at one time ? creating a virtual slideshow.
3D Games + Reviews-Driven Games Portal
In addition to an exceptional library of 2D, 3D and multiplayer games that take full advantage of its high-end multimedia launch devices, Helio gives its members information directly from the gaming community within the games portal. Through a partnership with IGN.com, Helio members have access to independent game ratings and reviews within the portal to reference while making a purchase decision. The game service also offers Helio members a number of custom tools including animated previews of in-game footage, ?cheat codes? free-of-charge for purchased games, a ?wish-list? function that allows users to catalog favorite games for purchase later, a ?download locker? for free-of-charge re-downloads of purchased games and the ability to ?rent? titles before you buy. All Helio games are priced at a flat $5.99 to buy, or members can opt to trial games by renting a game for a week for only 99 cents.
Gifting and Begging
Helio also makes it easier for its members to share purchased mobile content among friends with Helio?s gifting and begging features. Gifting is the ability for a Helio member to purchase a music video, game or piece of personalization content directly from their handset and have it delivered, over the air, to another Helio member?s device. Begging is just the opposite. Users can ?beg? another Helio member to purchase content for them, and a friend can respond by purchasing and having it delivered directly to the handset of the person that begged for it. Gifting is the easy answer when you?ve forgotten a friend?s birthday.
Mobile Internet + Yahoo! Search
Helio members can access a full suite of mobile Internet sites so they can get all the information they?re looking for, optimized for a mobile screen. Anchoring Helio?s mobile Internet services is a partnership with Yahoo! giving Helio members services including Yahoo! Search, Yahoo! Mail, Yahoo! Messenger, Yahoo! News, Yahoo! Photos, Yahoo! Finance and more. Helio will also offer content from leading partners including Fandango, FUEL TV, IGN, Jimmy Kimmel, POPSUGAR, Slate, Surfline, The Onion and many more.
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Download or Stream Video
With streaming and download features, Helio?s video service takes full advantage of the Kickflip?s and Hero?s 2.2 inch, QVGA TFT LCD screens that allow viewing in both landscape and portrait modes. Helio members can choose from hundreds of their favorite music videos for download or can stream their favorite clips from brands such as ABC, ABC News, Fox Soccer Channel, Fox Sports, FUEL TV, IGN, MTV Networks? brands including COMEDY CENTRAL, IFILM, Logo, MTV, Spike TV and VH1, Ripe TV, RocketBoom, Speed, StupidVideos.com, and WireImage.com. At launch, all video streaming is included in Helio?s All-In Memberships and music videos can be downloaded for $2.49 each.
Helio members can customize their mobile experience through innovative features including video integration into a device idle screen or ring. With Video Screens, members can assign video files as wallpaper on their device idle screen. Also, with Video Ringers members can customize their incoming call notification with full motion graphics instead of just sound. Helio members can also select from an array of personalization options with Screens, Animated Screens and Rings from major music labels, studios and many other mobile content providers.
Hero and Kickflip
Helio?s launch devices, Hero and Kickflip, based on popular high-end handsets from Korea, combine innovation from one of the most advanced 3G markets in the world with design elements and features tailored for the US consumer. Both devices feature 2.2 inch, 262K-color high-resolution QVGA LCD displays, removable memory, and a 2.0 megapixel camera with digital zoom and flash for capturing pictures and video. Hero also packs full duplex stereo speakers and a co-processor chip that delivers high-quality music and video for an exceptional entertainment experience, allowing for versatility in content and services like never before. The Hero is available for $275 and the Kickflip is available for $250.
Mix and Match Devices
Helio allows the fashion conscious to switch between devices depending on whether they feel like sporting the sleek, black Hero, or pearlescent Kickflip. When multiple devices are purchased, a member can select which device they want to carry on any given day and sync their address book over the air. They can also download their games from their ?download locker? to either device so they don?t miss a race, puzzle or championship. With Helio, you can have one membership, one number, multiple options and be the envy of all of your friends.
Helio?s All-In Memberships put data services at the core and don?t nickel-and-dime members for messaging, surfing, or downloading. Helio All-In Memberships include unlimited:
* MySpace on Helio
* Helio On Top (H.O.T.) Service
* 3G Network Access
* Wireless Internet plus Yahoo! Search
* Video Messaging and Streaming
* Picture and Text Messaging
* Data Transfer
* National Night + Weekend Calls, Free Roaming and Free Long Distance
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3 Simple Plans
With all of this included, each member just chooses how much they want to talk on Helio?s nationwide 3G network. The All-In Membership costs are as follows:
* 1,000 anytime minutes: $85/month
* 1,500 anytime minutes: $100/month
* 2,500 anytime minutes: $135/month
A member can also choose the A La Carte plan which includes 500 anytime minutes for $40/month and pay-as-you-use multimedia services. Additional fees for some content may apply to all memberships.
Helio members have access to an extraordinary nationwide network with full digital service for crisp call quality covering more than 290 million people in the US, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Helio devices also leverage the high-speed 3G (third-generation) EV-DO (Evolution-Data Only) network giving approximately 150 million users speedy access to the mobile Internet for downloading games and music videos, streaming video clips, surfing or accessing custom sites like MySpace on Helio, or sending and receiving pictures and video messaging at speeds faster than most carriers.
Where to Get it
Helio is now available through www.helio.com, 888-88-HELIO, and will roll out from nearly 1,000 retail locations by the end of May to an expected 3,000 plus retail locations nationwide by the end of the year. Helio?s distribution partners include leading national and regional stores such as
Fry?s Electronics, FYE, Sam Goody, Wherehouse, Strawberries, Coconuts and Tower Records. Helio will also be found at over 100 college and university campus bookstores across the nation through distribution with Douglas Stewart, as well as authorized agents including Wireless GIANT and Wireless Toyz, and key master agents nationwide such as ERC Inc., Horus, ING Wireless Inc., Interactive Wireless Services, InTouch America, Top Notch Communications, Top Up Solutions LLC and WDI Wireless. Consumers can find a retail location nearest them by visiting helio.com.
Hello. We’re a new mobile service dedicated to giving young, passionate people the type of wireless experience we’ve been waiting for. HELIO offers unique, exclusive devices,
innovative services that connect you to your friends and world-class customer care. Helio is a joint venture between SK Telecom, the world’s most innovative wireless carrier, and EarthLink, the next generation Internet service provider. www.helio.com
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“Helio,? the “Helio” logo and any other product names, service names or logos of HELIO used, quoted and/or referenced herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of HELIO LLC. All other product names and/or company names used herein may be protected as trademarks of their respective owners.