I have been carrying around the Helio Ocean since the new phone launched. In general I don't like to talk much about carriers or devices because we work with both carriers and handset OEMs. In the past I have made the exception with Helio because I felt that they were targeting people like me as the core of their consumer base (Gadget freak, early adopter). This was based mostly on the early descriptions of their market pre-Myspace deal. The Myspace deal was confusing to me because I think that Helio, which is in general a higher end device carrier than the broad based US carriers that offer lots of phone choice as well as free phones and family calling plans, was targeted at a slightly older and slightly more affluent consumer. Given Myspace's ubiquity that may be a mistake on my part but in general I personally thought it was a head scratcher.
The Ocean, however, is the type of device I would expect from Helio. It is definitely a device like no other on a carrier today. While true their are devices like the LG Envy and others, the Ocean brings an amazing combination of hardware design and usability, with an awesome handset UI and a great network.
Big plus - The action on the Ocean (Pantek) both the traditional and qwerty side are switchblade like and is very similar to the Sony Mylo. The FAST mobile messaging and IM integration is ambitious and fairly well executed. The LBS enabled Google maps application is probably the hottest thing I have seen on a phone.
Big minus - The handset seems like it is bit under microprocessor strain. For example, although the Fast mobile IM works well, there are times when you type on the keyboard and the phone seems like it is hung, until about a minute or so later when it actually types. I can't tell if this is hardware or software related but that's a must fix in the future. No use of the device as a phone modem. Maybe that is going to change?
So to reiterate, I am exited to see Helio push the envelope with a device like this. I can't wait to see what the next devices are going to be absed on this direction. There are a number of concerns I expressed previously about the deck being kind of locked down, the inability to use Opera or Opera mini etc. that may be issues around Pantek devices specifically. In any event, I would bet that in the future those issues will fall by the wayside.
One big question I had that seems to have disappered is the H.O.T or Helio On Top application from the Ocean. I thought that in concept this was one of the coolest things that Helio was trying to do. The software for the Hero was pretty buggy but I figured that would be fixed over time. I wonder if there is a data load issue with that kind of application? Hard to say.
The ultimate question I face when I look at a device is whether or not I would adopt this as my primary phone. In this case I would give the Ocean a pretty high thumbs up in general if not for my involvement with my current phones. Yes, phones. I am still way bought into the Sidekick III. It is almost laughable that I carry a device just for IM, but it is really that good. I think that I could use the Ocean in a serviceable way, and it is certainly better than anything I have seen on other handsets including my SE P990, but it isn't as good as the Sidekick for IM. On other fronts I think it probably beats the Sidekick but as that is my primary use case, I am still going to carry the larger device.
Since I am a smartphone user, it isn't a fair comparison as a replacement for that class of device but it is certainly a top of the list phone if I were to abandon the smartphone class of device.
Hats off to the Helio team for a bold direction with their newest phone. I can't wait to see what is next.