Celio Corporation REDFLY Mobile Companion

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INTRODUCTION

The advent of integrated thumb keyboards on Windows Mobile devices has meant the demise of compatible portable Bluetooth keyboards. The current class of devices are almost full-fledged computing platforms, however the size of the screen and keyboards limits their full potential. The Celio Corporation identified this need and created the REDFLY Mobile Companion – a combination full QWERTY keyboard and 8″ LCD screen. This accessory looks more like an Ultra Mobile Personal Companion (UMPC) than an accessory for a Windows Mobile device. Let’s see how well it performs its job as a Mobile Companion to our beloved Windows Mobile devices!

SETUP

The Celio REDFLY Mobile Companion includes the UMPC like clamshell, power supply, installation CD, and quick start guide.

Here is the video unboxing of the Celio REDFLY Mobile Companion.

The REDFLY measures 1x6x9 inches, weighs 2 pounds, sports an 800×480 8” screen (that’s WVGA for those keeping track), an 80 key QWERTY keyboard with a touch pad, and a 4,500mAh internal battery rated at 8 hours which also charges your smartphone via the USB connection. The USB ports (of which there are 2) can be used for flash drives, keyboards and mice. It can also be connected to external monitors or projectors with its VGA port. The smartphone can be connected via USB or Bluetooth.

The installation and configuration of the Celio REDFLY Mobile Companion drivers on my Verizon Samsung i760 Windows Mobile 6 Professional was mindless. The Celio REDFLY Mobile Companion provides USB and Bluetooth connectivity. Only certain devices are currently certified to operate with the REDFLY. The list of Windows Mobile device are found on the

Celio web site

Here’s a list of the most popular phones: Treo 750 and 800w, Sprint Touch and Mogul, Motorola Q9h/m, unclocked HTC Touch, AT&T Tilt and BlackJack II, and others.

PRODUCT FEATURES

The Celio REDFLY provides full access to the Windows Mobile device’s functionality.

The breadth of applications which render well on the REDFLY’s 8″ screen is extensive. However, applications which directly access the Windows Mobile device’s video hardware like Windows Media Player (in video mode) and Sling Media Slingplayer mobile do not fare well, with video coming across as choppy and difficult to watch. This video demonstrates Pocket Excel, Pocket PowerPoint, Adobe Reader, Windows Live Search, and Pocket Internet Explorer.

MORE PRODUCT FEATURES

The keyboard and USB ports are major features which make the Celio REDFLY Mobile Companion appealing.

The built in keyboard is a key component of the REDFLY and provides similar functionality to a PC with shortcut keys and the ability to use single letter mnemonics to access menu items. The USB port can also be used to plug in flash drives. Unfortunately, that is the only USB accessory, other than an external keyboard and mouse, supported by the REDFLY, that means no printers/scanners or external hard drives.

In response to Adam Lein post;

Race My Treo! – Usability Speed Tests for the Treo 800w

I created this video for the REDFLY.

The list of tests I run through are:

  1. Switch between the email, contacts and calendar applications
  2. Open a 3rd party application (Windows Live Search) buried within the interface
  3. Open a favorite web page from the home screen
  4. Start playing music from a specific artist
  5. Add a new contact beginning from the home screen using the following details:
    • Name: John Doe
    • Work Phone: 800.555.1212
    • E-mail: [email protected]
  6. Compose and send a specified E-mail to that contact (beginning from home screen; no cheating and using the contact you’ve just created and Send E-mail to) using the following details:
    • To: John Doe
    • Subject: Test
      Message
    • Body: The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.

HELP SUPPORT

The support of the Celio REDFLY Mobile Companion is handled via an US toll free number (1-888-4REDFLY) and email. The Celio support web site contains a good amount of information in their knowledge base and FAQ. All of the well written documentation can be found here.

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

The Celio REDFLY Mobile Company currently only supports Windows Mobile 5 and 6 devices found on their smartphone list. The drivers for Verizon Samsung i760 require about 500Kb of storage memory.

BUGS AND WISHES

I had no issues installing, configuring or using the REDFLY, however I would like to see:

  • Smoother video rendering for applications like Sling Media’s Slingplayer mobile
  • Support for additional USB accessories, like a USB hard drive
  • Built in speakers and microphone

PURCHASING

The Celio REDFLY Mobile Companion can be purchased at Amazon for $499.


PROS

  • Great rendering with most applications
  • Small and lightweight
  • Excellent battery life
  • Charges your device

CONS

  • Videos come out blotchy and unwatchable
  • No speaker or microphone
  • Expensive
Value
Ease of Use
Features

Overall

What do these ratings mean?

OVERALL IMPRESSION

The Celio REDFLY Mobile Companion is a one of a kind accessory which enhances the usability of Windows Mobile devices. I found the REDFLY rendering of Excel spreadsheets, Pocket Internet Explorer, and Powerpoint impressive. Unfortunately I could not say the same thing for video rendering. The lack of USB hard drive support is also a disappointment. The REDFLY is currently targeted to enterprise customers which do not need video and would like to reduce their laptop total cost of ownership by providing a single manageable device (a Windows Mobile device), rather than two (a laptop and a smartphone).

This versatile functionality comes at a very steep price of $499. That is much more than the subsidized price of a Windows Mobile device, heck, it’s about the same price as a decent laptop.

In the end this is a compelling device for business, however given the price and lack of proper video functionality, I don’t believe it is ready for the consumer market.

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