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By Chris De Herrera 
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Redfly "Deep Dive" Review
By Chris De Herrera, Copyright 2008
 Version 1.00  Created 11/2/2008

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A Redfly is a larger keyboard and screen for a Windows Mobile Standard (Smartphone) or Professional (Pocket PC) device. Since I use Windows Mobile daily, I have been watching the price point of the Redfly. Earlier this month, Celio decided to sell the Redfly for $199. So I decided to pick one up. Two weeks ago I received my Redfly. After taking two trips with the Redfly, here’s my experience with it.

OpenSpecifications:

800 x 480 Color backlit LCD display
Small full size keyboard (similar to a UMPC)
A touch pad with left and right click buttons
2 USB 2.0 host ports – Connection to your Windows Mobile device, USB flash drive, a USB mouse or keyboard
Bluetooth – Connection to your Windows Mobile device
VGA Output – 800 x 600 (800 x 480 with a black border on the bottom)
Supports selected Windows Mobile 5.0, 6.0 and 6.1 devices. See Celio’s website for details

What’s in the box…

In the box, you will find the following:
1. The Redfly
2. A black bag to put the Redfly in
3. An AC adapter to charge the Redfly
4. A Quick Start guide.
5. A warranty card

Looking at the Redfly

It is clear that Celio really thought about the mobile user with the design of the Redfly. On the outside you will notice right away that the Redfly has a rubberized coating which makes holding onto it much easier. They did a really good job on the case – it fits together well. Also, on the bottom, there are four individual rubber feet on the bottom which make it less likely to slide on smooth surfaces. On the back you will find the VGA port, 2 USB ports and the plug for the AC adapter. One interesting thing with the USB ports are that the case sticks out about a 1/16” on the bottom and ¼” on the top so you may not be able to plug in some flash drives all the way however they should still work.

On the interior the case is painted plastic with the keys for the touchpad are also painted. I suspect that with use the paint will come off. Also, there’s an LED under the Numlock button in the upper right corner but I have not figured out what it is for.

The 800 x 480 display is bright which makes it easier to use outside however I would encourage you to use it in the shade so you can see the screen more easily. Also, when you drag the cursor down to the bottom right corner, you will see a USB symbol, battery meter/charging status and numlock and capslock status.

My Experience Before Traveling…

So right away I plugged the AC adapter in the wall and the Redfly to charge it. To fully charge the Redfly takes about 3 hours. After charging, I then used my PC to visit the Celio website and download the driver for the Redfly. The driver is a.CAB files that you can copy from your PC onto your device and install. So after you have installed the CAB file via the method of your choice (ActiveSync/WMDC/Flash Card, etc) then you are ready to connect to the Redfly. The initial connection must be made via USB. However once you connect you can launch the Redfly driver and enable the Bluetooth partnership which you can use for future connections.
After installing the Redfly drivers, I noticed a few changes:
1. The ATT phone app was replaced with the Microsoft phone app
2. On the Redfly, applications appear in Landscape
3. On the Redfly, the Start button reverts back to the older start menu with the last 6 run apps as icons in a bar below the button.

Upgrading the Redfly

One of the other files you can download from Celio is the updated Redfly software. I downloaded the latest driver and installed.  I then plugged in the Redfly and it installed the new firmware.  Then it rebooted the Redfly and reconnected.   Simple!  One hidden item you may find helpful is to use FN-Redfly to display the firmware version of the Redfly.

Display Compatibility with ApplicationsToday Screen

So Windows Mobile was not originally designed to support 800 x 480 displays. This causes some problems when applications are run with a larger display. Some applications work fine while others only occupy the left portion of the display in the original size of your Windows Mobile device’s display. This behavior is based on the developers flexibility to address larger displays that have been released since Windows Mobile 5.0 and later devices.

I have a set of screen shots of applications and their compatibility in the Redfly Screen Shots

Using Bluetooth

Once you have connected via USB and stored the settings of your Redfly on your device, you can connect via Bluetooth. Bluetooth allows you to easily connect to your Redfly without wires which makes using it a lot easier. Also, using Bluetooth helps extend the battery life of the Redfly because it does not charge your device. However there are a couple of downsides. The Bluetooth connection is slower than the USB connection (768k vs. 10 MB/s) and Celio does not recommend using a USB flash drive with it due to the slower speed and the possibility of corrupting it. (Yes you can corrupt the flash drive if you abruptly disconnect the Windows Mobile device from the Redfly). At this time, there is no Bluetooth support for using a Bluetooth mouse or keyboard with the Redfly.

USB Device Support

So after I used the Redfly for awhile, I decided to dig out a whole bunch of USB devices and see what worked and what didn’t. Here’s a general list of my experience:

1. Flash drives generally worked if they were formatted with FAT32
2. Flash card readers generally worked including readers with multiple slots
3. USB mouse – selected applications can take advantage of the scroll wheel so your mileage will vary
4. USB hubs are not supported – You can use one however only the first device that is plugged into the hub is available to your Redfly. However you can use the Redfly to charge more peripherals this way. Just be careful not to exceed the amount of power that the Redfly can output and you should be aware that this will reduce your battery life.

I have documented the details of my testing of selected USB peripherals at Redfly USB Support.

Travel Compatibility

So given that the Redfly is designed to work with your Windows Mobile device and many people will use it as a laptop replacement, I wanted to comment about my experience with using it to replace a laptop. I found that the Redfly allows you to view more content and this is very helpful in applications such as Word Mobile, Excel Mobile and Messaging. However the limited capabilities of these applications only allow the user to perform a subset of functions. So as a workaround I plan on using the Softmaker applications with the Redfly….

In terms of the hardware, I think that Celio did provide a high quality device with a nice case to make travel easier. However I found that it was easy to turn my Redfly on prior to inserting it in my bag. I suspect that this is because it is so easy to turn on by pressing the power switch. I recommend making sure that the power button is viewable in the top opening of the bag so you can easily check whether it is on or off at the time you insert it on your bag. If it does turn on, it will get warm in your bag and your battery life will be much less. Also, I looked closely at the AC adapter and it’s a brick with two prongs to plug in the wall. It would be a much better traveling companion if it was smaller and had prongs that folded.

The Warranty

One of the surprises I found when I read the fine print, is that the warranty is only for 90 days. While I plan on keeping my Redfly longer than 90 days, I was disappointed that the warranty was so short compared to the industry standard of 1 year for devices and accessories. On the Celio website I did not see any info on an extended warranty or how to get out of warranty repairs.

Overall Assessment

Here’s the key to me about using the Redfly. It will make a lot of sense for the user that is able to do everything they need to do with the existing Windows Mobile applications and want a larger display and keyboard. In this scenario the combination of a Redfly with your Windows Mobile device really makes the user more efficient:
1. The instant power on of Windows Mobile and the Redfly
2. There are no additional costs for applications such as Microsoft Office which are already built into Windows Mobile when you use them with the Redfly
3. The user does not have move their data from you device to switch between the Windows Mobile device and the Redfly
4. The Redfly still allows the user to use the Windows Mobile device to do things that a laptop can’t such as :
    a. Making and answering cell phone calls
    b. Uses the existing Windows Mobile data plans with no tethering charges
    c. Ability to wake up the Windows Mobile device to notify the user of alarms and calendar events.

With all of these benefits, I can see individuals and enterprise users using a Redfly as a replacement for a UMPC (ultra-mobile PC), MID (mobile internet device) or laptop especially when they have lighter application requirements that the Windows Mobile device is capable of addressing.

Other Articles on the Redfly

1. Redfly Screen Shots
2. Redfly SoftMaker Screen Shots - TextMaker, PlanMaker and SoftMaker Presentations - More functionality than Word Mobile. Excel Moble and PowerPoint Mobile
3. Redfly Pictures
4. Redfly USB Peripherals
5. Redfly Under the Hood - A look inside the Redfly Design

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