Friday, November 14, 2008

REDFLY - a perfect Mobile Companion?

Tired of lugging round your giant 'developers' laptop? Or do you need a secure but lightweight way to access your email and files that is more accessible than your phone?

Over the last few weeks I have been testing out a new gadget, or as my wife says, a new "toy". This great new gadget has the interesting name of REDFLY (yes, all caps ... sorry!), and it is used to enhance the features of your mobile phone.

REDFLY in action, from the Celiocorp web site

The REDFLY is about the size of a large paperback book, and weighs around 2 pounds. It has a 7 inch screen with a resolution of 800x480 pixels. It has *no* internal memory, *no* processor and about an 8 or 9 hour battery life.

Since it has no memory or processor, to use it you must connect it to your cell phone. You can connect either with a standard USB cable or via Bluetooth. If you use the USB cable, the REDFLY will charge your cell phone at the same time.

So what does it do? It gives you access to all of your cell phone's features and functionality, and lets you use a (not quite full sized) qwerty keyboard and large (compared to your phone) screen. Anything you can do with your phone, you can do with the REDFLY - except, for the moment at least, watch video and play animated games.

Why would you want to use it? Most of us probably wouldn't, but if you travel a lot and use your phone to keep in touch with the office, or if you choose to carry your laptop for web browsing, email and to occasionally show PowerPoint presentations, you might find that the REDFLY is good for you.

From a business perspective, since the REDFLY has no memory, no hard drive, no software, and thus requires no configuration or maintenance, the TCO is essentially the price you see on the box - currently $199 + shipping, compared to the total cost of a $600 laptop which might be something in the region of $3000 or even more.

See how the REDFLY can lower your TCO

If you work with confidential files, losing your work laptop can be disastrous. But since the REDFLY has no memory or drive space, there's nothing to lose of you misplace it.

Most cell phones have the ability to do some form of Remote Desktop (RDP) access or VPN to get to a remote PC or virtual machine. The REDFLY changes the unusable RDP into a usable experience, and with software options like LogMeIn desktop-like performance is possible.

The REDFLY in action - remote desktop to Windows XP.

I used my REDFLY for 6 or 7 hours solid in one day, without needing to recharge it. Towards the end of the day my cell phone was complaining of low battery, but no problem. I just plugged it into the REDFLY via USB and continued to work, while charging my phone at the same time. The REDFLY needed no recharging before the following day.

See how real users are using REDFLY

Four remaining features stand out in my mind.
• The REDFLY has a VGA output, so you can use a standard monitor or a projector for your presentations.
• If you are using PowerPoint through a projector, you can use your phone handset as a remote control to click through the PowerPoint slides.
• REDFLY has two USB slots. You can attach a standard USB mouse or keyboard to these, and also USB memory keys. When you insert a memory key, it becomes an external storage device for the phone, so you could carry PowerPoint slides or other documents separate from your phone.
• I can fit the REDFLY in the pocket of my cargo pants, so I don't need to carry a bulky laptop case with me.

All in all I have been very happy with the REDFLY. I think it is a great device for the business traveler who relies on his cellphone to keep in touch with the office, doesn’t need to carry a laptop, but wants easier access to the features of his phone.

Unfortunately Celio Corp ( only have drivers for Windows Mobile as I write this. They have plans to add drivers for S60 (Nokia) phones, Blackberries and iPhones. As I write, no official date has been given for these new drivers.

Other in-depth REDFLY reviews,2817,2310686,00.asp

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