A few months ago we wrote an article about the Redfly Mobile Companion and how it was coming for the BlackBerry [Cool Device Alert! Use your BlackBerry like a Netbook with Redfly]. Well that day has arrived and we have had our grubby fingers on a demo unit for the last couple of days now.
What is the RedFly?
The RedFly Mobile Companion is made by Celio Corp and has been available for other smartphones for some time, but now it is available for the BlackBerry Tour, Curve 8900, and Bold smartphones.
The device itself is about the same size as the new netbooks you see these days. The installation was very simple and only required a small over-the-air (OTA) download (780kb) direct to your phone from the Celio website (http://m.celiocorp.com/install). Once the driver is installed you get the standard permissions screen, which requires nothing more than a quick exit and save.
Now here’s where the install is a bit tricky, you take your own standard usb cable and plug it into one of the Redfly’s 2 USB ports and then into your phone. Turn on the Redfly and that’s it. Ok, the tricky thing was an obvious joke, because the Redfly installation was honestly a lot easier than I imagined it would be. As a note, the Redfly is an “instant-on” device, which means you push the button and almost instantaneously you are looking at your BlackBerry screen.
We tested the unit with our test BlackBerry Tour and really like the extra screen real estate the Redfly brings (7″ or 8″ depending on model). The Redfly’s touchpad acts like the trackball on the BlackBerry, although the natural inclination is to think of the Redfly as a laptop, you have to remember that it’s only an extension of your BlackBerry screen and keyboard.
I really enjoyed the Redfly experience and had several others in the office give it a try with the same results all around. The only thing to note is that the keyboard on the Redfly is rather cramped and does take some getting used to.
However, once you get the knack of it, the Redfly operation definitely allowed me to be more productive than I would have been with the BlackBerry by itself. Also it should be noted that the Redfly comes with a VGA out port on the back, which means you can literally hook it up to a projector in a conference room and use the Redfly-BlackBerry combination to project any documents or presentations you have on your BlackBerry.
From an IT standpoint the introduction of the Redfly into a corporate environment is almost a no-brainer. It doesn’t need anti-virus software, it uses the existing internet connection on the BlackBerry, it gets access to the corporate network through the BlackBerry BES connection and if it breaks, then replacement is just a matter of hooking up a new Redfly. The reverse is true if your BlackBerry gets replaced because you simply download the link driver and away you go, no lengthy configuration needed. If you are in a medical environment, there are no worries of compromised patient data if your Redfly is stolen, because it does not keep any information.
One last note, although the device will allow you to connect your BlackBerry to the Redfly via Bluetooth, the performance is severely affected and we would recommend that you stick to the USB connection. As an added bonus, by doing so, you are also recharging your BlackBerry battery.
For more information or to find our where you can get one for yourself, head over to the Celio Corp. website.