Redfly Review: A Laptop-Like Smartphone Companion - Page 2

By Amy Mayer | Posted November 05, 2008

Unfortunately, its battery while connected to a phone via Bluetooth doesn't seem to last much beyond an hour and a half, and that's with only basic internet browsing and Office programs running, not audio or video.

It comes with an AC adapter that has such a giant connector it hogs space on a power strip (very retro!). On the upside, when the Redfly is plugged in, you can connect your phone via USB and charge its battery. That's one less outlet you'll need. Celio recommends that for data-intense uses you connect via USB rather than Bluetooth.

Making Windows Mobile easier to use did bring out some of the platform's idiosyncrasies. Word Mobile, for example, doesn't default to having an active Spell Check. If you rely on autocorrect, or just the red underscores on misspelled words, be extra careful before sharing anything you type on the Redfly. (Or run spell check manually by clicking Menu'Tools'Spelling.) Wallpaper files often aren't compatible with the expanded monitor—a quirk Celio knows about.

Our test unit has a mountain vista for its wallpaper and the image repeated three times on the Redfly's background. No harm and not a problem, but if you don't like the look Celio recommends you select Guava Bubbles or Windows Mobile Green for your background to maintain the appearance you're used to on your phone.

It's lovely to have the Windows Alt-Tab function available to really see what all is running on the unit, and toggle among them.

Some applications, like the communications manager, don't expand to fill the monitor. But in general, e-mail, web surfing and using Word Mobile documents proved way more comfortable on the 800 x 480, 7 x 4-inch screen.

It's easy to imagine some scenarios in which the Redfly would boost comfort and productivity for workers on the go. Since it has no hard drive, it can be left in a car, hotel room or other unsecure location without the threat of company data being lost or stolen. This makes it a smart choice when on-the-road computing needs don't require the full might of a laptop.

And since it also can be plugged into a projector, even giving a PowerPoint presentation is possible (though modifying a PowerPoint isn't, so you'd have to have your presentation ready to go before leaving your computer behind).

Certainly traveling without a laptop will be liberating for certain people who make day-trips by plane or cover long distances on foot or public transportation. The ability to type faster and more comfortably will also improve communication for people who are often texting or typing emails from their phones.

The Redfly also apparently works well for connecting to remote desktops, servers or cloud apps, according to the company, though these are not features we tested.

Celio says this unit is just the first in what it expects to be a series of devices for both on-the-go and stationary expansions of a smartphone. Full-sized keyboards and monitors that would reside on your desk are other peripherals they expect to develop to expand the utility of smartphones into all-in-one devices. Perhaps a pocket until like this for the road and a full size keyboard and monitor for the office truly could allow your phone to replace your computer.

But for now, the Redfly isn't quite ready for prime time. Its successors, however, seem destined to play a part in the digital, mobile, workplace of the future.

Adapted from SmartPhoneToday.com.

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