Helio goes all in for Ocean launch

Helio formally and commercially launched its latest handset: the Ocean, which has enjoyed comparisons to--and some of the hype of--Apple's iPhone launch. The dual-slider handset is now available through Helio's website and branded stores as well as GameStop video game stores. Other retail locations will start selling the handset come June.

The Ocean is jam-packed with features after the MVNO put "an extraordinary amount of time and energy to build" it during the past year, Helio's SVP of products and services, Doug Britt told FierceWireless. "We really do feel this device embodies Helio," Britt said.

The device is the summation of Helio's efforts to date and features the products and services that Helio has developed with partners like Yahoo, AOL, MSN, Google, Wikipedia, Yelp and MySpace. These services include GPS-based Google Maps, integrated email applications that recognize hyperlinks and one-click Wikipedia searches from documents as well as Helio's buddy beacon application. Each of the services works in portrait and landscape mode, when the phone is twisted into its other shape, except for the buddy beacon application, which Helio says will become optimized for landscape mode at an undisclosed time.

The handset also features a new chip that optimizes music playback--Britt said the chip allows 15 hours of continuous audio from the phone. The phone also features Microsoft's PlayForSure DRM technology.

As for iPhone comparisons: "We've gotten pretty excited about all the iPhone spoiler and iPhone killer reviews about the Ocean and we're extraordinarily confident that it stands up as a music phone, too," Britt said. "While some folks will certainly feel at home in an integrated Mac environment, we'll have a device with an end-to-end mobile experience that we're extremely confident in," he said. Plus, "our pricepoint is at $295."

For more on Helio's Ocean launch:
- see this press release