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Redfly Mobile Companion Reduced to $199

Special Celio Corp. “Seed Unit Program” Lowers Redfly Mobile Companion Price by 50% From $399 Down to “Only” $199

Redfly Mobile Companion

I have until now refrained from reviewing the Celio Redfly Mobile Companion principally because I felt that while the device may have had some merits its original price of $399 was (to put it mildly) rather over the top – particularly as there are some phenomenal new Netbooks available in the $300 to $500 range such as the $429 Lenovo IdeaPad S10 that I have set my sights on.

Having said this, now that Celio has announced that as part of a “seed unit program” it is reducing the price of its Redfly by 50% (down to $199 until October 31) I thought that it might be worth taking a second look at this Windows Mobile “Smartphone Companion”.

So what exactly is the Redfly Mobile Companion?  Well, for starters Redfly is a solid and well built, small and lightweight (only 2 lbs.) “shell” with a keyboard + touchpad, 8 inch screen at 800x480 resolution, Bluetooth, 2x USB ports and VGA port as well as a battery that lasts a very healthy eight hours.  However, the Redfly also has no operating system, no CPU, no hard drive and no installed software of any kind. 

Celio-Redfly-Mobile-CompanionThe whole idea behind the Redfly is that it seeks to eliminate the need to carry a laptop and instead “allows you to use your Windows Mobile Treo smartphone as a laptop” without the typical costs or maintenance associated with a traditional PC. 

It is essentially a “smartphone terminal” that connects to your Treo via cable or Bluetooth and uses your smartphone’s CPU power and 3G or WiFi data connectivity to work on any application installed on your device with the benefit of a much larger keyboard and screen – something which some mobile professionals who primarily need only email, a browser and a VPN or Remote Access while on the go have actually found to be extremely appealing.

Top 10 Things About the Redfly Companion

  1. Present from your smartphone
    Deliver PowerPoint presentations from your phone via the REDFLY’s built-in VGA port.  Anything on the smartphone can be displayed via VGA.
  2. Travel light
    Leave your laptop behind, but take your data with you.
  3. Easy email, attachment and documents
    The larger display and keyboard make it easy to use email and applications such as Office Mobile (Excel, Word, PowerPoint).
  4. Web browser on a large display
    Enjoy a better web browsing experience with the ability to view pages without scrolling, zooming or squinting.
  5. ALT-TAB like a desktop
    Quickly move between open applications using the familiar Alt-Tab key stroke.
  6. Bluetooth to the phone
    Connect between your smartphone and the REDFLY via Bluetooth for a wire free experience.  Use your phone and REDFLY at the same time.
  7. Use a flash drive
    Access data using USB flash drives or memory cards with a card reader.
  8. Charge your smartphone
    Charge your smartphone while connected via USB for extended productivity time.
  9. Travel with one charger
    The REDFLY can be set to keep the USB ports powered when plugged into the wall. Charge the smartphone via USB and you only carry one charger.
  10. Notes on the fly
    Use the Windows Mobile Notes feature and take notes while on a phone call or in a meeting. All information is always with you and easily searched.

The Redfly has been fully tested with all Windows Mobile Treo smartphones including the now shipping Treo Pro, Treo 800w, Treo 700w|wx and Treo 750 as well as other WM devices such as the Motorola Q.

I have to admit that after reading some customer stories the whole Redfly concept started making a lot more sense to me.  For example I liked some comments such as the fact that “devices can be pooled and loaned out as needed since there is no on-board storage”; “one-touch instant On”; “like a wide screen television for my phone”; “full remote access to our servers”; “setup was faster than pouring a cup of coffee”; “it’s like a wireless keyboard for my smartphone”.

Overall I reckon that you will either automatically love the Redfly Mobile Companion or promptly dismiss it as the greatest overpriced nonsense you’ve heard in some time.  Priced at $399 I would personally not have given it another thought but now that it’s temporarily reduced to $199 I may just have to give it a go.

If you already own a Redfly please take a moment to share your experiences with your fellow Treonauts via the comments section below.

Redfly now only $199 [via jkOnTheRun]

Treonauts are always ready to try something new

Posted by Andrew on September 26, 2008 at 09:35 AM

Redfly Mobile Companion

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by dmm | Sep 26, 2008 10:26:57 AM

When I originally saw the Redfly, I wasn't interested. It looked kind of nice, reminiscent of the Foleo, and well... not compatible with any device I was likely to be using. Then, when Palm announced the Treo Pro, I gave the Redfly a second look, and it looked like a must-have. Now I'm hoping to get one (and a Pro, as my 680 isn't compatible!) while it's still available at the $199 price.

by cmack | Sep 26, 2008 1:18:39 PM

how is this much different from the palm folio?

by dmm | Sep 26, 2008 4:50:26 PM

While they do have a lot in common (both designed to bring the capabilities of a smartphone to a bigger screen/keyboard), there are some differences in the approach. The Foleo was designed to sync to a smartphone as a separate device, while the Redfly is more of an accessory that requires the smartphone to function. So the Foleo could do some things on its own--e.g. browse the Web via WiFi. On the upside for the Redfly, though, you don't have to remember to sync anything.

My impression is that the Redfly is a bit smaller (I haven't seen it live yet; I did see the Foleo when Palm did demo events in their corporate stores--when they had those!--for it last year). And the Foleo had memory card slots--one SD slot on the right side and another (CF, maybe?) under the battery cover--while the Redfly has 2 USB ports to the Foleo's 1.

Plus, and most importantly... the Redfly is available, and the Foleo is, well, on hold...

by dmm | Sep 26, 2008 4:56:48 PM

Just to clarify, I said on hold because while Colligan cancelled the launch for the Foleo (and that model), he did leave the door open for a similar device (running the same version of Linux that Nova is based on). Whether Palm can launch such a device (and differentiate it enough from the Redfly and all the netbooks, etc., is TBD.

by serge | Sep 26, 2008 7:05:06 PM

The Redfly reminds me the Foléo dream, aborted by Palm... I remember how narrow minded were the comments of the Palm CEO and ...journalists
As a Macintosh aficionado (I hate Window) and
discouraged by Palm lack of imagination and guts... (The Palm OS is Mac compatible...) I turned out to a Nokia E90 which is very smart, fully equiped but not Touch... I wonder if the Redfly would be compatible with a Symbian software - alias my Nokia E90.
It will be a perfect companion while travelling... having than WiFi , an FM radio, a voice recorder a camera , Words, PDF files etc etc in it...
The Redfly could become a smart extension of my Nokia E90 a perfect light computer...
As I mostly work in french I also wonder if the Qwerty Redfly keybord could generate also the french accentuated caracters like é è ç è û etc as Palm does... Poor Palm leaders always missing the coach...
Maybe I could forget my PowerBook at home ...
Any idea ?

by Craig Ward | Sep 27, 2008 3:14:54 AM

Although this Redfly is now available in the UK, we are not able to get access to this offer, so we end up paying £254, or $469. Can we have a similar offer over here please Celio. No doubt the companies selling these machines are just making extra profits from such a good deal.

Otherwise, since the Foleo did not launch, as I would have bought one. This will be very handy for when my new Palm Treo pro arrives

by waldo15 | Sep 29, 2008 11:29:28 AM

I own one! Well, I won it in a contest actually.

My experience with it has been extremely positive. Once you use it you realize how much power is there under the hood of your smartphone. The combination of the Redfly plus your smartphone is effectively a Netbook and in a few instances is better than given the long battery life and the unbloated OS (even though is WM6.1) running it.

This device is not for everybody. If you currently have a WM phone, this is the accesory to get if you travel a lot and use your phone for a lot of email and web browsing. Even more compelling if your phone has WiFi capabilities for those travel days abroad. The occasional note with Mobile Word or excell is also possible with this. It's not a good device for multimedia experiences (you lack good speakers onboard and there's no audio routed to the Redfly) so if you plan to listen to music while using the Redfly you probably have to have earbuds connected to your phone (Treo Pro FTW) and if you want to watch video you are better off disconnecting the phone altogether.

Overall, for those who wondered about the Foleo and the things you could do with it... take the Redfly for a spin, you will be surprised!

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