Consumers of mobile electronic products generally have two different and opposite expectations that electronics companies have to balance. These are the expectations that newer products are smaller, but also that they're more easy to use. Satisfying one expectation or the other isn't actually an issue. After all, it's easy to create a lot of functions into a bigger device just as it's simple to make a device with few functions very portable, but it's difficult to make them both into the same device. Surprisingly, these days electronic devices are so small that the defining factor in how small a device can be isn't restrained so much as what it's capable of, but by how easily its users can take advantage of those features. You see, it's simple to build word processing and email abilities into an very small products, but that capability is useless if there's no room for a keyboard on the device. In this case, the device has to be large enough to accommodate the size of human hands.
The good news for consumers is that a variety of companies are coming up with some ingenious ways to mix functionality and small size in their products. One solution is the new Ocean from Helio. The Ocean is a smart phone type of device that is capable of performing a vast variety of communications functions along with being a portable multimedia entertainment platform. You see, the Helio Ocean is a handset that's about the same size as a typical mobile phone. At first glance the Ocean is a rectangle with rounded corners with a large screen slightly off centered and a limited array of buttons at one side. The screen is designed to display either in portrait or landscape mode, and will automatically switch between the two depending on which way the device is held. When it's held so that the display in in portrait mode and the buttons are below the screen, the screen can slide up to reveal a cellular phone keypad. In this setting, the Ocean will function as a typical mobile phone. When the device is held in landscape mode with the buttons on the right and the screen is slid up, a qwerty keyboard is exposed. In this mode, the user can type emails and text messages, as well as take and place phone calls in speaker phone setting. (The Ocean can be reconfigured to regular mobile phone mode in the middle of a call and the speaker phone mode will be automatically turned off. The user can also use a headset in both modes.)
The Helio Ocean can also be used for a variety of multimedia applications. For example, it can take photos using a built in two megapixel digital camera, or photos that can be expanded with the use of an optional memory card.
The Ocean does have a few issues that will probably be straightened out with software fixes and future models. You see, it won't always properly show Microsoft Office documents and the display can get in the way of typing on the top row of the qwerty keyboard. Other than that, Helio's Ocean presents a great compromise between size and function.
Posted by Larry Dixon at 09:47:00. Filed under: General