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Say hello to Helio

Say hello to Helio

There's yet another MVNO in town, and its name is Helio. The new mobile virtual-network operator just launched today, and it's going to ride on the Sprint Nextel wireless network to deliver its own brand of service and its own line of cell phones. And much like other MVNOs such as Amp'd Mobile, Helio is aiming for the young and hip demographic, with a strong focus on Internet content. A very notable feature of Helio phones is its tight integration with MySpace, a social-networking site popular with teenagers. Users can post pictures directly to MySpace, write and read their MySpace blogs, add new friends, and view profiles directly via their MySpace account.

Gaming and video content are also big features on the Helio phones. You can download 3D games for a fee, plus you can stream or download video from content providers such as ABC, Fox, IGN, MTV, Comedy Central, and more. Along with downloading the content for yourself, you can buy a game or a video for someone else as a gift; plus, there's a "begging" feature that asks your friends to buy something for you. Another neat feature, Helio On Top, lets users add RSS feeds to be sent to their phone's idle screen, acting like an informational screensaver.

Helio currently sells two cell phones: the Hero slider and the Kickflip swivel phone. The Hero has a large 2.2-inch QVGA screen with 260,000 colors; 240x320 resolution; a fast processor; 70MB of internal memory plus a Micro SD card slot; a 2-megapixel camera with flash and 4X digital zoom; a video camera; and a built-in music and video player. The Kickflip features the same large 2.2-inch QVGA screen with a 240x320 resolution; a 2-megapixel camera with flash and 4X digital zoom; a video camera; and a built-in music and video player.

The Hero will cost you $275, while the Kickflip is a little less, at $250. Helio's All-you-can-eat subscription plans start at $85 a month, $100 a month, and $135 a month. The plans include unlimited data and access to the aforementioned media and Internet content. If you wish to tailor your subscriptions to a different pricing option, you can also access Helio's A La Carte Membership system, which lets you choose the services you want. All subscriptions require a two-year commitment and a one-time $30 activation fee.