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Innovation

Review: Celio rolls out BlackBerry client for the REDFLY Mobile Companion

I've been a fan of the REDFLY Mobile Companion for a couple of years and purchased the C8N in November 2008. If you remember there are two models of the REDFLY Mobile Companion, the C7 and C8N, that give you a large display and keyboard to use with your Windows Mobile device. Celio Corp has been working on expanding their driver support and we saw a concept for Android back at CES. Today, we see the launch of a BlackBerry driver for selected BlackBerry devices, which makes the most sense considering there are so many BlackBerry devices in enterprise.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer on

I've been a fan of the REDFLY Mobile Companion for a couple of years and purchased the C8N in November 2008. If you remember there are two models of the REDFLY Mobile Companion, the C7 and C8N, that give you a large display and keyboard to use with your Windows Mobile device. Celio Corp has been working on expanding their driver support and we saw a concept for Android back at CES. Today, we see the launch of a BlackBerry driver for selected BlackBerry devices, which makes the most sense considering there are so many BlackBerry devices in enterprise.

I have the C8N and had to make it “BlackBerry aware”. Celio Corp. made it much easier to upgrade the firmware of the REDFLY. In the past there were two separate downloads, one to install the utility on the Windows Mobile device and one separately to update the firmware of the REDFLY itself. In the new method you just update the software on the WM device and then after plugging in the REDFLY a prompt appears to update the firmware if an update is available.

Now that your REDFLY is ready for the BlackBerry you need the new free BB driver. Visit the REDFLY installation site and select your REDFLY device. After loading up the new software you then plug in the USB cable and turn on the REDFLY. You will immediately see the BB display on the REDFLY and unlike Windows Mobile you will see output on the REDFLY and the BlackBerry at the same time. I was sent a BB Bold to try out and at launch you will need a BlackBerry Bold 9000, BlackBerry Curve 8900 or BlackBerry Tour 9630. They plan to support most of the new phones BlackBerry releases in the future. In order for the REDFLY driver to operate efficiently, you’ll need a BlackBerry phone with a 512 MHz or faster processor; 128MB or more memory; and a BlackBerry OS version of 4.6 or later.

Celio recommends connecting via USB since there is limited throughput with Bluetooth. Unlike Windows Mobile, Celio's REDFLY driver is at the application level (this is why you see both displays active) so the display scaling is not as robust as what we see on Windows Mobile. Other than small black areas on either side, the display looks and functions quite well.

It does take a bit of practice to get used to controlling your BlackBerry with the keyboard and trackpad. The trackpad can be used to emulate the trackball with the left mouse button acting as the selection (center push) of the trackball. The left and right soft keys function as the BlackBerry menu and back buttons, respectively. You can also assign three hot keys for quick access to apps you want to use with the REDFLY and I set them up for email, TwitterBerry, and the web browser. Web browsing takes a bit of getting used to since the navigation is not as fluid as using the trackball on the BB, but the display is larger and quite readable.

I see the most value in the REDFLY for BlackBerry users to be in the email application where you may be able to crank them out on the larger keyboard. Then again, some BlackBerry users can really hammer out the text on a small QWERTY keyboard too. The REDFLY also charges up the BB while it is connected to the USB cable.

To celebrate the launch of the new BlackBerry driver you can enter a contest to win one of 5 REDFLY C8N's given out over the next 10 days. The C7 is priced at $199 and the C8N is $249 and if you are a person who wants a larger keyboard and display for working on your smartphone on the go these are great prices on a highly useful accessory.

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