Helio Drift

The Helio Drift is a slick slide cell…oops…it’s not a cell phone. I don’t want to get screamed at or blasted or whatever the consequence of calling it a cell phone is…but it LOOKS like a phone. You can use it to CALL other people’s phones. You can text, listen to music, IM, take pictures/video, browse the internet via mobile networks—much like a phone—but it’s definitely not a phone. Actually, not calling it a phone is probably smart. As far as typical phone utilities go, it does tend to lean more toward “media/navigation” device. The phone portion was rather lack-luster; signal strength was a little spotty and there were several numbers that flat out wouldn’t dial (in Helio’s defense, they piggy-back on other networks, so reception is not their fault. As networks grow, signal reception will likely be an issue of the past). If the Drift were a phone (which it is NOT), it would be a rather mediocre one; as it stands, there are enough “oohs” and “ahhs” to warrant special distinction. First and foremost, the Drift display is absolutely GORGEOUS with high resolution, bright colors, and high refresh rate. Backgrounds and video playback are as sharp and clear as any mobile communication device I’ve seen—a truly impressive achievement. The display actually compensates for other shortcomings by spider-webbing to other whistles. Google Earth is available on the Drift in high-resolution, even though there is a rather obvious lack of bandwidth and processor speed overall. Web browser pages load slowly and navigation is labored, but for a non-keyboard interface, the Drift does fine. There is a GPS feature (most easily accessed through Google Earth, but there are other applications like Mobile Buddies that allow you to locate other Helio users), but not as precise as the Verizon Navigator. Customized backgrounds and themes are one of the biggest selling points for the Drift. The unit is actually perfect for younger users or groups of people looking to add a stylized piece of electronics to their ensemble (remember the Gigapets?). A feature called “begging” allows fellow Helio users to send requests to one another asking for games, ring tones, backgrounds, or other custom features. While this would mostly appeal to children begging parents for a new ring tone, the novelty of indirect add-ons is original. There are a few cool gimmicks exclusive to Helio that are fun, if not terribly impractical. The digital camera includes video recording and a flash to take some relatively decent pictures. The area in need of revision for future models is perhaps the same for all mobile devices—battery life. The Drift battery life is very short; however, this is due in part to the myriad options available and high-speed internet browsing and streaming data transfer for navigating or sampling media. SHORT AND SWEET: The Helio Drift is a pretty piece of electronics with a lot of future potential, but probably not for the average user simply looking for a stable cell phone…because it’s not a phone.

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