Helio. Nice Toy But Not for Businesses

Helio is a joint venture between SK Telecom Co. a South Korean wireless carrier and Earthlink. The phones it offers do not contain a “QWERTY” keyboard but only the traditional keyboard found on a cell phone. This makes typing email quite limiting as you have to “peck” and rely on the phones intelligence to guess what word you are trying to type.
Helio is NOT geared towards business but more towards a youth market – the “MySpace” generation if you will. Why am I even telling you?
Last week one of my friends was looking for a computer – she was impressed with the Mac’s LOOK and she’s going to get one. This is not the first time this has happened to me – where someone wanted buy something only based on looks and not the specifications.
Washington Post’s Rob Pegoraro writes The Kickflip provides the theoretically helpful option of data synchronization with a Windows computer, but Helio has made a mess of that with its free desktop software. Its installer caused Windows XP to throw up two “unsigned driver” warnings, much of its interface is a morass of small type and hard-to-decipher icons, and some useful functions (like converting MP3s into ringtones) go missing entirely.
If you merely want to copy your MP3s over to a Helio phone for listening on the go, you’ll need to install a different desktop program and pop a tiny “T-Flash” memory card into the phone.
As for the Kickflip’s hardware, its roughly inch-thick dimensions mean it’s not about to shut down a Motorola Razr in the style department. A lack of Bluetooth wireless and mediocre talk time (2 hours and 42 minutes in a test) don’t distinguish it in terms of utility either.
The everyday reality of Helio’s service and devices doesn’t quite square with its marketing. Promotional efforts like “Helio House” events at nightclubs and a quarterly magazine filled with hard-to-read type and pictures of bored models imply that this company represents an overwhelmingly cool break with the cellphone business we know.