We do reviews! It's Review Week here at SCI FI Tech, which means we'll be bringing you hands-on write-ups of gadgets both big and small every day. Adam Frucci kicks off the week by getting connected with Helio's new slick slider phone, the Heat.
Helio is a unique animal in the U.S. cell-phone marketplace. A relatively new player in the field, Helio has a very specific customer in mind, and it isn't your mom or tech-unsaavy brother. No, they're gunning for the young, hip and plugged in. They want people who are looking for more from a phone than just calls — the people who want something that's both stylish and powerful. The best example of this mindset is the new Heat, a phone that's both stuffed to the gills with features and as slick and sexy as they come.
THE ESSENTIALS: HELIO HEAT
WHO WANTS THISPeople who want a feature-filled phone that won't feel like a brick in their pocket.
WHYThe Heat crams features like GPS and 3G Web access into a small and sleek package.
WHAT'S COOL Integrated Google Maps, speedy Internet access, a decent camera that can upload to the Web — all in a tiny phone.
WHAT'S LAMETouch-sensitive buttons are annoying, lack of a QWERTY keyboard makes mobile e-mail a pain.
FINAL MARK: AA wonderful balance of function and form, the Heat is the perfect phone for power users who don't want to sacrifice style.
PRICE: $150 with 2-year contract. Check out the Helio website for details.
You can also use the Buddy Beacon feature with the GPS, although it requires your friends to also have GPS-capable Helio phones. This makes its use pretty limited for most people, but in theory the ability to figure out where your friends are is a cool one.
The 3G Web access comes in handy when you want to do something like check your e-mail. The speed isn't exactly mind-blowing, but it's quick enough. Gmail works great, although the ability to get POP3 e-mail on the phone would be nice. There are lots of sites that have specially designed versions especially for Helio, such as MySpace, Digg, and Wikipedia. Generally these are kind of neat, but nothing that I ended up using all too often. Also, the lack of a QWERTY keyboard makes surfing the mobile Web kind of annoying. Checking your Gmail is a snap, but actually writing an e-mail is a tedious affair due to the limited functionality of the numerical keyboard.
One cool feature, however, is the ability to take a photo using the phone's built-in 1.3-megapixel camera and upload it directly to your MySpace account using HelioUP. The phone slaps a Helio watermark on the photo, which is kind of annoying, but it's a really cool way to cut out the steps of transferring the photo to your computer and then uploading it to the Web. Plus, the camera is pretty decent considering it's stuck on a phone, and the ability to fiddle with settings such as white balance make it feel like more than just a toy.