Can the REDFLY Windows Mobile Smartphone Companion succeed where the Foleo couldn't?

Can the REDFLY Windows Mobile Smartphone Companion succeed where the Foleo couldn't?

Summary: The first mobile device I saw at CES 2008 earlier this year was the REDFLY Mobile Companion and I was very interested in checking the device out further. Celio Corporation just sent me an early beta version of the REDFLY Windows Mobile Smartphone Companion to evaluate for the next 2-3 weeks. The Palm Foleo project was shut down before launch and I am curious about whether or not a mobile phone companion device like this has a viable market. Earlier estimates had it priced at US$500 and if that is the release price I think that will be too high for most people. I'll have to check it out in more detail, but if it was something like US$250 then I may see the value in a device like this. I took quite a few photos as you can see in my image gallery and also shot a video of the device in action.

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The first mobile device I saw at CES 2008 earlier this year was the REDFLY Mobile Companion and I was very interested in checking the device out further. Celio Corporation just sent me an early beta version of the REDFLY Windows Mobile Smartphone Companion to evaluate for the next 2-3 weeks. The Palm Foleo project was shut down before launch and I am curious about whether or not a mobile phone companion device like this has a viable market. Earlier estimates had it priced at US$500 and if that is the release price I think that will be too high for most people. I'll have to check it out in more detail, but if it was something like US$250 then I may see the value in a device like this. I took quite a few photos as you can see in my image gallery and also shot a video of the device in action.


 Image Gallery:Take a good look at this slick REDFLY Windows Mobile Companion in my image gallery.  Image Gallery: A closed REDFLY Mobile Companion Image Gallery: An open REDFLY Companion 

Specs The REDFLY is intended to provide you with a larger display and keyboard to use with your Windows Mobile device so you can be more productive on the go. The display is an 8 inch 800x480 WVGA non-touch screen display. The keyboard is quite large and measures about 8 inches wide by 3 inches deep. The device has 2 USB 2.0 powered ports on the back so you can connect and charge your device at the same time. A Bluetooth 2.0 radio is included so you can connect to your mobile devices wirelessly after you first make a cabled connection to setup the device. A non-removable Lithium Polymer battery is used to run the REDFLY and charge your devices. Stated battery life is something like 8 hours. The REDFLY Mobile Companion weighs in at 2 pounds.

The device is currently certified to work with the AT&T Tilt, Sprint 700w/wx, Sprint HTC Mogul, Verizon 700w/wx, Verizon SCH-i760, and Verizon XV6800 devices. I also loaded the AT&T Tilt driver on my HTC Advantage and it worked very well, even with my RealVGA utility loaded to give me a richer VGA experience on the Advantage. Further devices will be listed as they are tested. I next need to try out my T-Mobile Shadow device.

Setup: Celio Corp loaded up the REDFLY driver on the evaluation AT&T Tilt and to test out my Advantage I simply performed an OTA download and installation of the driver. The driver and REDFLY utility loaded on your Windows Mobile device has a few tabs with settings. You can manage your Bluetooth connections, manage the sensitivity and functionality of the touch pad and keyboard (I moved it to a fast setting so I could go from one side of the display to the other in shorter swipes), establish your power settings for battery and A/C adapter, and also establish what the 3 hot keys launch on your device. After loading the REDFLY utility you simply connect the first time via a USB cable and then press the on button on the REDFLY. Your connection should take place automatically. After you setup your first connection via cable you can then use Bluetooth to connect so your device can sit in your bag while you type and surf. I haven't tried a Bluetooth connection yet, but I will soon.

Design: After pulling the REDFLY Companion out of the box, I was immediately impressed by the soft touch material surrounding the REDFLY. This type of material should keep scratches to a bare minimum, while providing a very grippable surface to prevent drops. The burgundy color is attractive and professional in my opinion and I would use this in and around the office. The keyboard is fantastic and I am finding that I can actually rest my palms on the device and type with two hands and all my fingers just about like I do on a full size keyboard. I cannot do this with my Fujitsu U810 and am really loving the keyboard. The display seems just about the right size and resolution for a Windows Mobile device because it does upscale your device so going too far to 1024x600 or something may not be as good and may require more processing power.

Overall first thoughts: The applications appeared much better on the REDFLY than I thought they would before I had a chance to try the device and there were only a couple that had issues. This is an early beta model and the software is still being worked on and optimized. Web browsing was actually enjoyable on this display and text entry is going to ROCK! Using applications like the SoftMaker Office suite with this large display and keyboard could be killer for the business user. I really like the idea of the Alt-Tab functionality, but experienced major delays a couple of times (this may have had to do with my screenshot program though too).

If this device was available now for under US$300 then I would probably plunk down my cash right now, but if the US$500 price is what it launches at (this was the price I heard at CES) then I think it is going to be a tough sell for a large market. The Palm Foleo was a Palm Treo companion device, yet it also had a Linux OS so it could actually function alone without a mobile phone and it was to be priced at US$500. With the ASUS EeePC and other MIDs launching in the US$500 range this device may have a tough time in the mobile market. I personally carry around a Windows Mobile device most of the time and having a companion like this would actually meet my needs quite well, but I don't think I am in the majority here. I'll get a couple more weeks with the REDFLY Windows Mobile Smartphone Companion and I'll post more of my thoughts and experiences after further review.

UPDATE: I was thinking a bit more about this device this morning an understand that Windows Mobile is currently targeted due to their enterprise influence, but when looking at the numbers of smartphone worldwide it sure would be nice to see a S60 REDFLY client. I carry a S60 device around almost more than a Windows Mobile device and while there are several Windows Mobile devices with keyboards, there are very few S60 devices with keyboard and larger displays available.

Fellow MobileTechRoundup co-hosts James Kendrick and Kevin Tofel also were sent REDFLY units to evaluate. James posted his first impressions and he seems more positive about the success of this unit at US$500 than I am at this time. Kevin also posted about the setup experience.

Topics: Smartphones, Hardware, Mobility, Networking, Wi-Fi

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15 comments
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  • Foleo DID NOT FAIL

    The device was pulled before it had a chance to fail and I didn't think it would fail because there were a few interested parties that would have paid to get access to the device.
    nucrash
    • RE:Foleo DID NOT FAIL

      No it is just another poor decision from a long list of bad decisions by palm executives.
      mrOSX
  • RE: Can the REDFLY Windows Mobile Smartphone Companion succeed where the Foleo couldn't?

    Another option is for Redfly to provide software that would enable one to use an Eee PC (or any of the other UMPCs) in exactly the same manner. Otherwise, I agree that anything more than $300 is going to be a deal breaker. If this is priced at $200 or less it is a no brainer accessory for a Windows Mobile device.

    Enterprises are becoming more and more sensitive to price so thinking that companies will pay $500 may be a mistake.
    fmcpherson
  • RE: Can the REDFLY Windows Mobile Smartphone Companion succeed where the Foleo couldn't?

    Couldn't essentially the same experience be created by connecting the phone to a laptop computer with some special software, avoiding the need to pay $500 or so for this device?
    Justia
    • Not really, for details check below, I accidentally responding to the story

      resolution like you do with RedFly. The software options while free limit you to 320x240 resolution and a laggy screen connection.

      However, if you are traveling with a laptop, there really is no need to even bother viewing your phone's display with software (MyMobiler). Instead you would just use your phone's internet connection on the laptop to check e-mail/browse the web.
      sonus911@...
  • If it runs Windows Mobile...

    ...it only supports Windows PCs. Ergo, if Linux is not supported, and we know that MS is LOATHE to support Linux, I WON'T BUY IT.

    If it's running Windows, I won't buy it, period.

    And another thing, I'm getting really sick of authors on this website that talk about Windows like it's the underdog. Every dog has their day. The Windows dog is done. Mustard anyone?

    Scott
    epitax
  • Message has been deleted.

    bobhobocom
  • RE: Can the REDFLY Windows Mobile Smartphone Companion succeed where the Foleo couldn't?

    I would like to hear from your experiences with other smartphones such as t-mobile shadow or ipaq 510 (less powefull devices compared to htc tilt but with wm6). If experience is good, getting a redfly and a less powerful smartphone might be a bargain.
    xaviersp
  • RE: Can the REDFLY Windows Mobile Smartphone Companion succeed where the Fo

    I purchased an HTC Advantage x7510 from OnTheGo Solutions and a Celio Redfly. They work well together but I have encountered a few snags. First, when I the Advantage is connected to the Redfly and I am using the RSS Hub and click to go to the web the RSS Hub application tries the bring the page up in Opera, but Opera will not display on the Redfly. Second, when connected to the Redfly the advantage will not recognize my Bluetooth mouse even with the disable trackpad option selected. And, third, at times when connected via Bluetooth the Redfly seems slugish. But all in all the two work well together and I have no regrets about either purchase.
    bartletts4
  • RE: Can the REDFLY Windows Mobile Smartphone Companion succeed where the Fo

    I don't understand why you need a whole extra device
    to do this. Why can't you just plug the mobile device
    into your desktop/laptop and have it mirror the
    display?
    chaiguy1337
    • Great Idea

      Can you do that with Windows Mobile?

      I do this daily with my Sony Clie (Palm OS) UX50! and, I can't find anything Windows Mobile or S60 that will compare with this device, and its 5 years old!

      How did we get so far off track?
      chacalau
      • Yes, you can do that with WinMo, check out MyMobiler

        MyMobiler mirrors your phone's display onto your laptop/computer. However, it doesn't upgrade the phone's resolution to 480x800 like RedFly does.

        I'm guessing the Sony Clie doesn't do that either in mirror mode, huh?
        sonus911@...
  • RE: Can the REDFLY Windows Mobile Smartphone Companion succeed where the Foleo couldn't?

    I second haiguy1337. The moment MS or other smart vendors come up with a PocketPC Mirror software based solution, the $199 will go down the drain together with support for the few that embarked on RedFly.

    phermi
    phermi@...
  • Yes and No, You can, but you won't get 9hrs battery life nor 800x480

    resolution like you do with RedFly. The software options while free limit you to 320x240 resolution and a laggy screen connection.

    However, if you are traveling with a laptop, there really is no need to even bother viewing your phone's display with software (MyMobiler). Instead you would just use your phone's internet connection on the laptop to check e-mail/browse the web.
    sonus911@...
  • RE: Can the REDFLY Windows Mobile Smartphone Companion succeed where the Foleo couldn't?

    Total disappointment. Most of the applications I use on my AT&T Fuze do not work properly on Redfly (including Opera). Even though I'm trying to update the drivers and firmware to the latest version regularly. In the last 8 months I spent more time updating Redfly than actually using it. Most of the time it's sitting turned off collecting dust. You would be better buying an actual laptop or a netbook than trying Redfly.
    zdnet11121