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Helio Ocean is in the house

Our first thoughts on Helio's new Ocean cell phone.

Helio Ocean
Helio Ocean Helio

Even though we played around with the prototype of the Helio Ocean cell phone back in March (see our lengthy first impression here), we were still excited when we received the final product in our gadget-hungry hands.

Yes, we finally have the Helio Ocean right now in the house, and save for a few user-interface improvements, it feels pretty much the same as that earlier prototype. The triple-decker phone has a bit of heft to it, but we liked its smooth lines and soft-touch surface, and the 2.4-inch QVGA screen is simply a sight to behold. The QWERTY keyboard has that same soft-touch feel, and we're liking the bubbly tactile keys.

We haven't gone through all the phone's features yet, but from what we've seen so far, it's certainly impressive. The smart-search feature we mentioned at CTIA is still there: we loved that we could just type in anything from the default screen, press OK, and instantly be rewarded with a page of search results. Other features include a 2-megapixel camera, EV-DO support, a music player that supports Microsoft's PlaysForSure DRM, and a vast array of messaging options. It even supports Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync so you can receive corporate email on the device.

There are a few things that we didn't like--we can't seem to multitask properly, and we're not fans of the number keypad--but we're in the middle of testing right now. There's a lot of ground to cover, so stay tuned for our full review soon!