Companion piece

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Can a gadget designed to be a terminal for a Windows Mobile-based smartphone succeed where a gadget designed to be a terminal for a Palm-based smartphone failed? Celio's Redfly Mobile Companion may give us the answer.

Today's smartphones pack the power of a computer into our pockets - they can run applications, surf the web, send e-mail, display presentations and much, much more. However, their tiny screens and even tinier keyboards make them frustrating in many situations.

The Redfly Mobile Companion ( can help. The two-pound device stands nine inches wide and six inches deep, and it connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth or a USB cable.

Simply install the product's software on your phone (either over the air or using ActiveSync) and Redfly's eight-inch screen and ample-sized keyboard will make using your smartphone a whole lot easier.

The Redfly also has two USB ports, allowing you to access files (or copy files between your smartphone and that drive) as well as connect a peripheral such as a mouse. A VGA output port on the Redfly can connect to a video projector or external monitor so the images from your Smartphone can be viewed in a much larger size than normal.

This gadget offers an eight-hour battery life and can even be used to charge your smartphone, though that particular feature will deplete the power of your Redfly much faster.

The Redfly's portability is enhanced because it has no operating system, CPU or hard drive. Instead, it uses your smartphone for all of its computing needs. However, that portability is offset by the Redfly's usual $500 price tag. These days, for a couple hundred dollars more you could buy a full-function laptop.

By this time, you're either thinking the Redfly makes a lot of sense for your mobile lifestyle or you're asking yourself who in the heck needs a larger keyboard and monitor for a smartphone?

To complicate your buying decision, consider these two facts:

* About a year ago, Palm announced the Foleo, a similar terminal for Palm-based smartphones that came with a 10-inch screen. It was taken off the market just three months after it was announced.

* Celio has lowered the price of the Redfly to a more digestible $200. They say the discount is only good through Monday, Nov. 17.

So what's it gonna be? Deal or no deal?

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