After living with the Helio Ocean for a month... 5 things to like and 5 things not to like...

Most reviews give the reviewer a very short amount of time to look at something and then tell the world what they think of it--not enough time to find all those little quirky things you're used to doing with your gear that wouldn't come up in day one.

So, after a month of having the Helio Ocean, James Bond ringtone and all, here's 5 and 5 on either side:

I like...

  1. The form factor and design of the hardware itself.   The double slider is fantastic.  I can dial numbers like a normal human with ease and type e-mail in a separate place.  Its sturdy and scratch resistant as I've been keeping it in the same pocket as my keys and that did a number on my Treo in the past.  And, the thing is, with a phone, you have to imagine the hardware is more important than the software because that can always be fixed, upgraded, added upon, etc.  If you don't like the actual brick itself, there isn't a lot you can do with it.
  2. Built in apps.   Doing offline gmail on the subway is heaven and its hilarious to answer a "Whatcha doin?" IM on AOL with "Walking down Broadway." 
  3. The price.   I'm all about getting value for my dollar and paying $65 pretax for unlimited texting and high speed data... I thought it was a misprint.  That and the phone was only $250.  I don't think I'll ever spend $600 on a phone again... certainly not if its coming out of my pocket anyway.
  4. Integrated multimedia.  When I send photos to Flickr by e-mail, it asks if I'd like to get something out of my photoalbum, rather than having me chase down folders and directors like Win Mobile did.  That's the good thing about a closed system... everything on there is meant to work together and it does nicely. 
  5. Gaming.  I've already won the championship in the poorly named Derek Jeter baseball game on this platform... and rented it twice for 99 cents a week.  Its 7 to buy, but I think I'll get tired if it before than.  Buying a game and paying for it was a snap, and the graphics and speed are great.  The Mets could use a 2 hitter like F. Suarez on Brooklyn.  :)

I don't like...

  1. Calendar/contact sync...  coming soon?   I'd love for someone at Helio to tell me when they plan on supporting Exchange sync for calendar and contacts.  That would tip me off as to what kind of solution I should be searching for in the meantime.  Would it kill them to let us know?  I mean, I bought the phone because I trusted the "coming soon" would come through... the longer it goes, the more likely it will be that I'll try to get out of my contract b/c of false advertising...   six months is not coming soon to me.  Coming soon is a month, maybe two.  In the meantime, I had to manually upload contacts, which didn't work 100% and I have no mobile calendar integrated into the phone, which is killing me.   
  2. The menu architecture is screwy.  I miss the Start menu from Win Mobile... mostly b/c I could put my favorites in it.  I spend most of my time texting, Gmailing, Google Mapping, and snapping photos...   I want to be, at most, two clicks from that, but I'm an extra click and maybe two.  First, the menu that shows when the phone first comes on is just blank and pointless.  I have to hit the Menu key to get Helio's graphical menu, which gives as much real estate to buying music and videos as it does to the camera, which might be good for others, but not for me, so I want to be able to change what's on that menu...  or Favorite past it entirely.
  3. Phone home?  Go back to the first screen.  This is a phone, correct?  So how come when I'm on any other menu other than that blank pointless first screen, I can't activate the phone app by pressing the green phone key?  That's silly.  I have to hit back like four times sometimes to get to the first menu to be able to make a phone call.  Also, when I go straight into my contacts, pick a contact, and click the "Call" link via the middle button, it doesn't work.  Same when that call button pops up when I'm in my e-mail and it autodiscovers a phone number...  clicking call just takes you back to the rotating Helio menu and does nothing.  Didn't anyone QA this thing?  That needs to be fixed.
  4. Autotyping.   Can I turn this off?  I'm using to hitting the Shift key on my own things, and also not expecting when I do hit shift at the beginning of a sentence, because it autoshifts for me, when I hit it again, I go into Caps Lock accidently.  I can't tell you how many times I do this.  Its not saving me any time.  Plz turn off, kthx, bye.
  5. No blogging tools.  Writing, reading, nothing.  I really really miss my Newsgator mobile, which I suppose is a bigger problem thant they don't use a platform someone can write useful apps to, but this is the one that bugs me the most.  Seriously, how much would it cost them to build an RSS reader?  If they built a nice one (and got that Exchange thing fixed) they'd get so much more viral marketing through geek channels than their ridiculous marketing campaign is getting them.
  6. EDIT:  Oh, wait, one more thing, but this is a Sprint network issue or maybe just a phonewide issue... b/c it used to happen on my old phone...  When I go into the subway and then come back out, it will not reconnect on the data side unless I turn the phone on and off.  If I come right out of the subway, and then try to sync anything... nothing happens.

Bonus:  Don't call it a phone.   Helio has the most ridiculous marketing campaign I've ever seen, mostly because it does nothing to actually sell the product.  Just a big blue flame, picture of the phone, and the words "Don't call it a phone" does nothing for people.  Most people scratch their heads and go, "Well, isn't it a phone?"  It is a phone, trust me.  I have it.

Instead, I would write....  Unlimited texting, IMing, e-mail for a limited price...$65 a month + $250 for the phone.  I'm pretty sure that would get more people in the door.

All in all, if they fixed Exchange, you'd have a much more serious market for this phone, b/c that's the most important thing a lot of people want to do.  The little nit picks about menus and extra clicks aren't so bad at all and I like the phone... its just not making me as productive as I could be.

Blogging, RSS reading, and Exchange sync please!