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Redfly Mobile Companion Review

Review of $199 Redfly Mobile Companion Reveals Versatile, Powerful and Simple Plug & Play Solution For Your Windows Mobile Smartphone

Redfly Mobile Companion

Following the recent 50% reduction of the Celio Redfly Mobile Companion to only $199 this device has become a lot more appealing to many Treonauts who own a Windows Mobile smartphone such as the Treo Pro or Treo 800w and the Redfly has quite literally been flying off the shelves at this price.

While I refrained from getting my own Redfly when it was available for $399 I have to admit that the $199 price point made it rather more enticing to take this device for a spin and below you’ll now find my review.


The 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.  This is why the Redfly unit has no operating system, no CPU, no hard drive and no installed software of any kind.

Redfly Mobile Companion - Profile

The Redfly 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.


The Redfly Mobile Companion is a small (only 1 x 6 x 9 inches), light (only 2 lbs.) and extremely solid, elegant (with a wine red rubberized coating) and well built laptop “shell” which offers a keyboard + touchpad, 8 inch screen at 800x480 resolution, Bluetooth, 2x USB ports and VGA port as well as a 4500mAh battery that lasts a very healthy eight hours. 

The two USB ports (pictured below) can be used to connect a wired/wireless mouse (no drivers required), flash drive or memory card reader as well as your smartphone with a Retractable S&C Cable for example (your smartphone charges when plugged-in) while the VGA port will allow you to connect a monitor or projector for presentations. 

Redfly Mobile Companion - Ports

Considering that the Redfly is only 9 inches wide it’s clear that the keyboard is tiny but even with my large fingers I found it surprisingly easy to use.  Additionally, the screen offers excellent resolution and brightness for both indoor and outdoor use (I have not yet had to set the brightness at more than 60%).

 Redfly Mobile Companion - Keyboard Redfly Mobile Companion - Side

Small details such as the side power button (above right), the latchless screen closure mechanism and large rubber feet at the bottom all contribute to make the Redfly mobile companion a rather pleasant device to work with. 

Redfly Mobile Companion - Kit

Perhaps my only complaint (albeit minor) is that the charger is both a bit larger and heavier (7.2 oz) than I would have liked but then again when compared to the diminutive Redfly everything else starts looking big…


As I mentioned earlier, one of the main advantages of the Redfly Mobile Companion is that it does not have nor requires any on-board software to work with your smartphone (you just need to install the Redfly driver on your Windows Mobile Treo smartphone and you’re ready to go within only a couple of minutes).

With the driver installed on my Treo Pro I simply plugged the USB sync cable into one of the USB ports (you can also use Bluetooth) at the back of the Redfly and pressed the Power button on the Mobile Companion.  Within five short seconds the Redfly had “acquired” my smartphone and I was now able to view my display in 800x480 resolution (nearly four times the size of your 320x320 resolution smartphone screen).

Refly Mobile Companion - Programs

The actual screenshot (click for full size) of my Programs screen on the Redfly above for example can now display seven applications across while my smartphone is limited to three.

Virtually all Microsoft applications installed on your smartphone will work at this higher display resolution.  For me the most important were all PIM applications such as Contacts, Messaging, Tasks, Calendar and Notes as well as Internet Explorer, Adobe Reader and all Office Mobile apps (Excel, OneNote, PowerPoint, Word) – I was delighted to see that I had absolutely no problem at all using all of these applications.

Refly Mobile Companion - Excel

For example, working within Excel Mobile at 75% zoom I was able to easily view 12 columns and 19 rows of content (screenshot above).  Other examples include the Contacts below left and a full HTML email below right (click for full size).

Refly Mobile Companion - Contacts Refly Mobile Companion - Messaging

Generally speaking you will have to test the other Windows Mobile software that you have installed on your smartphone to determine whether it will display correctly at the higher resolution that the Redfly delivers.  For example, Google Maps (below) worked superbly well while CorePlayer Mobile was unable to properly display video.

Refly Mobile Companion - Google Maps

Also, it’s clear that mobile browsing will be a core priority for Treonauts interested in the Redfly Mobile Companion.  In this respect, I’m happy to report that Pocket Internet Explorer and the Iris Browser work extremely well both over 3G and WiFi but Opera Mobile unfortunately will not launch.

Additionally, although I could receive calls without any problems on my Treo Pro while connected to the Redfly (I highly recommend using a Bluetooth headset for all calls) for some reason the main Phone application would not display properly.  An easy way around this proved to be simply accessing the Contacts app and initiating all my calls from there.

Overall however there were significantly more applications that worked perfectly well with the Redfly than those that did not and I grew rapidly used to the increased screen real estate that it offers.

UPDATE: Celio has provided me with some additional info below:

1) We’re working on fixing the HTC Comm Manager and the Treo Pro Dialer and will release an update to the Treo Pro REDFLY driver when fixed.

 2) Sadly, in general, video doesn’t work. There are a few isolated combinations (phone model/video codec/REDFLY firmware/media player) that do somewhat work. But the frame rate is poor and the combinations are so specific and sometimes unpredictable that we have to officially say, “No video is supported at this time.” We want to watch video on our REDFLYs just as bad as everyone else, so it’s a high priority to fix. However, due to bandwidth limitations of Bluetooth and USB (no phones right now I believe support USB 2.0 although the REDFLY does) and the fact that video must be compressed and decompressed twice (once in the media player on the phone and again on the way to the REDFLY screen) we may still be one or two product generations down the road before we get true video on the phone itself to transmit properly to the REDFLY. There is a slim chance we could get some video working with just a firmware update to the current version, but it is quite a long shot and most likely will come in a later product iteration down the road. We’re currently working on a short-term workaround (stay tuned) but even that still won’t support full video from a phone’s media player.

3) The Opera 9.6 and Skyfire browsers will not work. We’ve been in touch with both companies, but each would have to alter some code to get their browsers to scale/handle the resolution change. Opera 8.6 works great though.


I have to say that I have been rather pleasantly surprised by my Redfly Mobile Companion experience.  It is extremely easy to setup and use, beautifully designed and built, offers a good keyboard and large high resolution screen in a very small and light body.  I would personally not have considered ever getting one priced at $399 but at the current $199 I have to admit that the Redfly gets two thumbs up from me.  Mobile professionals who don’t want or need a full laptop on the go will be rather pleased by its simple yet powerful features (see below).

Top 10 Redfly Mobile Companion Benefits

  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.

Treonauts are always ready to fly

Posted by Andrew on October 13, 2008 at 12:59 PM

Redfly Mobile Companion

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by Kirk | Oct 13, 2008 2:54:56 PM

As a long time Palm user in both Palm OS and WM OS for many years, I was disappointed with their progress and switch to HTC devices for the past 2 years. However, I am still looking closely in Palm devices and must admit Centro & 800w didnt tempt away from HTC Touch Pro.

However, the moment Redfly dropped its price and its compatibility with Treo Pro made me switch back to Palm. I must admit front qwerty with Palm enhacements just work.

The new Opera 9.5 will not launch but using Opera 8.5 with Redfly is simplay stunning. I have been using it over 2 weeks and found its running without problems. Using mouse cruser in Redfly is like using PC. Strongly consider to sell my HP 2133 in order to save time to upload files between devices.

by Ajax | Oct 13, 2008 5:02:47 PM

Andrew, would any multimedia work on the RedFly? Such as windows media player? Is there any upgrade planned to allow this?


by Andrew | Oct 13, 2008 5:13:25 PM

Ajax - I tried a few multimedia applications but none would display video on the Redfly so I have to assume that this will not work. I have contacted Redfly to see if there is a workaround this.

Cheers, A.

by Hemanth | Oct 13, 2008 8:20:52 PM

After playing with a Redfly for 2 weeks, I am sold. As a newer Palm user, I have never understood the debate between Palm OS and WM. I guess I grew up with Windows and find it perfectly fine for the range of business tasks I need to accomplish. From Outlook to Office, my new Treo Pro runs the range of programs I need to be productive while away from my desk. the Redfly takes it to a new level.

The Redfly keyboard is just right in size for my fat fingers but the screen in the best part. I can finally work on an Excel spreadsheet on my Treo! I can present a Powerpoint presentation from my Treo! I can write and edit Word docs with ease! The Redfly truly does make my Treo the mini-PC is has become to my work life. Bravo Celio and for $199 you have changed my professional life.

by waldo15 | Oct 14, 2008 5:48:25 PM


First of, when I saw the pictures you posted I could swear I was staring at my own setup, down to the exact shade of birch color on the table.

I have tried also multimedia apps. No video whatsoever, that is true. What in fact I'd like to do is AUDIO; the Pro has a decent speaker yes, but is only monoaural audio. I'd love to see the redfly have a couple of speakers. That way, while on the road you can have with you a portable "iPod-esque" docking station that serves as a terminal and as an audio player for whatever music collection you have sitting in your 8GB microSDHC. That'd deliver the final punch in an already well-rounded design.

by Ajax | Oct 15, 2008 2:42:33 PM

Thanks Andrew. I will have to hold off on it until it can play the vidz. If it could do that it would be very worth having. Until then i will stick with my eeePC 901. ;)


by Ajax | Oct 15, 2008 2:43:27 PM

Thanks Andrew. I will have to hold off on it until it can play the vidz. If it could do that it would be very worth having. Until then i will stick with my eeePC 901. ;)


by ChrisTom | Oct 18, 2008 5:29:43 AM

Any chance we will get one of these for Palm OS Treos?

by Andre Kibbe | Oct 19, 2008 11:53:17 AM

@ChrisTom: One of the CES videos I saw about the Redfly had the interviewer asking Celio about POS support. The Celio reps answer was an explicit "no." As a current POS users myself, I found the answer disappointing but not surprising. Palm has effectively EOL'ed Garnet, since they plan to have Nova (POS' Linux-based successor) completed by the end of the year, so no developers are spending time or energy on supporting the current crop of Palm OS devices.

As someone who was lucky enough to use the Folio for about three weeks, I have to say that the Redfly is a much more intelligent design. The Foleo only allowed syncing of email and contacts. There was a third-party PIM solution in works, which I saw in action once, but MotionApps was unwilling to release beta copies prior to the Foleo's cancellation. With the Redfly, syncing is a non-issue. Your data is in your phone and stays in your phone.

I suspect that the POS' inability to multitask was the reason for including separate CPU and OS in the Foleo. The Redfly, on the other hand, is essentially a dumb terminal. I think there's a good chance that when the first Nova devices come out, they'll release a more Redfly-like version of the Foleo.

by serge | Oct 29, 2008 11:47:26 AM

Of course the Redfly does not work with a Palm OS software Tréo... AH AHH AH !
This too much irony !

by Dennis Kaping | Nov 4, 2008 8:15:38 PM

Will Redfly work with the Palm versions of TREO?

by Ed | Dec 5, 2008 10:50:18 AM

I have the same combination, the RedFly and a Treo Pro. Opera 8.65 works very well with the RedFly and comes as close to a desktop experience as you can get.
Great review, a second each of your findings.

by John P | Jul 22, 2009 5:46:22 PM

Will Redfly work with HTC Touch pro?

The comments to this entry are closed.

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