Celio’s REDFLY – The Ultimate Smartphone Extension Review Part 1

One of the challenges with using Windows Mobile devices, as with most mobile devices, is the size of the screen. It is great having Office Mobile on the latest and greatest device but doing a significant edit of a document on a 3.5″ QVGA screen is, well… fun? Granted, on bigger devices that have VGA screens, the HTC Advantage comes to mind, it is a bit easier but you still end up doing a lot of side-to-side scrolling. Couple this with either a soft keyboard on the device or a small thumboard to type with and once again, doing big edits on a document is, well… fun? How then do you get around this quandry? With a colorful insect of course!

The Celio REDFLY is designed to help resolve this difficulty for Windows Mobile users by allowing them to connect their device via a USB cable or Bluetooth to the REDFLY and gain an 8″, 800×480 VGA display and full QWERTY keyboard. The REDFLY has no memory, storage or operating system itself. It is literally an extension of your device, utilizing the memory, storage and operating system of it. Even better, the REDFLY has a VGA output so you can display on an external monitor or projector straight from the device, something only a select few Windows Mobile devices can do natively. All of this in a package that is less than 2lbs. and 9″ wide and under $500? If you a a true power user of your Windows Mobile device, you should seriously consider a REDFLY. It could save your eyes and thumbs!

The REDFLY Closed
Figure 1: The REDFLY Closed

The REDFLY itself is 1″ x 6″ by 9″ (Depth x Width x Length) in size and puts it in the size of a Ultra Mobile Personal Computer (UMPC) or Handheld PC. It is lightweight, coming in at 2lbs. with the 4500maH battery built into the unit. The outer case, as you would expect, is a metalic red with the edging and inside a dark grey. The 78-key QWERTY keyboard is black and has great tactile feedback when using it. Just below the keyboard is a touchpad which will give you mouse functionality while using the REDFLY. The touchpad has both a left and right button just below it as well.

Figure 2: The REDFLY Open

REDFLY Compared to a SmartBook G-138 and HTC Advantage X7510
Figure 3: The REDFLY Compared to an HTC Advantage X7510 (on left) and a SmartBook G-138 (on right)

On the back of the REDFLY you will find the VGA output connection as well as two USB 2.0 ports. These ports can be used to connect USB items such as mice and keyboards as well as your mobile device. In fact, if you connect a USB memory key to the REDFLY, it will appear as a memory card on your Windows Mobile device! If you do not want to connect your mobile device via USB you can also connect through Bluetooth. The REDFLY supports the USB 2.0 standard which is backwards compatible to 1.0 devices. The 9v AC Power Adapter port is also on the back of the device.

The Back Edge of The REDFLY
Figure 4: The Back Edge of The REDFLY

The power button of the REDFLY is on the right-hand edge of the base where the hinge for the display is located. When you turn on the REDFLY, like your Windows Mobile device, it is instantly on and ready to use.

The REDFLY\'s Power Button & LED Indicators
Figure 5: The REDFLY’s Power Button & LED Indicators

The REDFLY\'s Keyboard & Touchpad
Figure 6: The REDFLY’s Keyboard & Touchpad

Coming in Part 2 of the REDFLY review, I will cover the useage and operation of the device.

The Celio REDFLY is available directly from the manufacturer.

MSRP: $499

What I Like So Far:
Crisp, bright display
Good tactile feedback on the keyboard
Expandability through the USB and VGA Out ports

What I Am Still Debating:
The pricetag

Categories: Autos, Reviews

Tags: , ,

14 replies

  1. Very Folio – esque! Curious to see how you find it in terms of actual use.. Still having problems incorporating a UMPC into my daily gear, this one looks as difficult.. :-)

  2. i seriously dreamed of this before

  3. TrvlngDrew,

    It is very Folio-esque! I’ll get into to using the device in part two in a couple of weeks but I will say I’ve been impressed so far. :) How’s that for a tease?!

    Augie, dreamed in what regard?

  4. Mine will have to be pried from my cold dead hands. Patiently waiting for drivers for the Touch though :(

  5. It has almost same size as EEE 701(and resolution too) :) But, the price is not same as EEE. ($350 vs $500)

  6. Clinton… any chance you can address using it with logmein or other remote desktop applications? (BT and/or USB connected.) That would be my killer app that would justify a $500 price tag, if it works well. Celio seems to allude to that on its web site, but I have yet to see anyone try it out. (Logmein has a free WinMobile version, btw, but you do have to set up the desktop as well.)

  7. I’d grab one of these in a heartbeat if the price was more reasonable. Perhaps something like $200. As it is, it’s just too rich for my blood.

  8. I don’t get it. At that price you could pretty much have a an EE or something.

    Concept is right, but price doesn’t work. If they made an iphone compatible unit, that could be interesting as well.

  9. Looks very interesting, but I will stay with my Folio. Looking forward to part 2.

  10. No fair Trevor!! We can’t get a Folio!! Ergo no choice! :-(

  11. Every discussion about the RedFly always seems to come down to… for $500 I could get an Eee or some other laptop. (Sorry, mchinsky. I’m not trying to pick on you. You were just wrong place at the wrong time – I needed an example.)

    First of all, you have to set it up and maintain it. Secondly, you have to sync data. Thirdly, it’s bigger and clumsier. Forth, battery life is not nearly as long. Fifth, you can use USB storage as if on the phone. But most of all, there is no available software for Linux or Windows to not only control he Win Mobile device, but to also expand the resolution and make connection quick and easy over BT and USB.

    Okay, my point is not that it’s better than a laptop. But simply that a laptop doesn’t do the same thing that the RedFly does. I think $500 is a bit much also, but it’s aimed at enterprise customers (a bargain if you look at TCO) and well, it’s the only game in town right now.

    In the future, with devices that have VGA and better displays, though, a competitor should be able to make something cheap and easy by simply adding an external keyboard/screen in the same form factor.

    You actually probably right, mchinsky, so forgive the outpouring here. Many/most average consumer-type people will want a small laptop instead of a RedFly. And eventually software will emerge to do RedFly stuff on a laptop. Hopefully on Linux versions and Windows. And a RedFly for now is really only useful for a certain set of compatible WinMo devices.

    But right now, it’s a product that seems really valuable to me and I’d love to have one. Justifying $500 to myself is the trick…

  12. The biggest advantage I see in the Redfly over something like the Eee PC or other similarly priced ultraportable is the wireless internet aspect. For someone like me with a Sprint plan and a inexpensive “unlimited” internet plan for my Windows Mobile phone, my phone offers near-ubiquitous internet access, perfect for news reading, forum browsing, or emailing. The biggest limitation is the postage-stamp sized browsing experience on my Motorola Q9c.

    While an Eee PC or other ultraportable provides more flexibility and more power, you’re tethered to wifi at limited locations (and often have to pay extra). Alternatively, you could get a 3G card, but that entails the significantly higher data/tethering costs on top of your regular voice/internet plan.


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