Review: Redfly Mobile Companion - Use Your BlackBerry Smartphone as a Laptop

Redfly Unit
By Adam Zeis on 3 Nov 2009 12:01 am
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Contest: Win a Redfly Mobile Companion for BlackBerry! Details Below..

If you're on the go and find yourself stuck in airports, on planes or in hotel rooms you know how valuable your BlackBerry can be to get work done. Be it emailing, finishing up a presentation or various other tasks, we like to use every spare minute to get things done. Sometimes the keyboard and small screen can bring your productivity down, and lets face it, not everyone has a laptop or netbook to cart around. Wifi isn't always available, and sometimes tethering isn't an option. All these added together can make for some crappy traveling and even less productivity. Enter Redfly from Celio Corp. Redfly carries the tagline "Use Your Smartphone Like A Laptop" and you can do just that. The unit itself is smaller than a netbook which makes for extreme portability, and you just plug in your device (or jump on via Bluetooth) and you're up and running. You're BlackBerry screen is instantly transported to the Redfly's 7 or 8 inch screen and you have a full QWERTY keyboard at your disposal. Now you can use the power of your BlackBerry as a laptop. Email, BlackBerry Messenger, MemoPad, Calendar and more are all at your disposal. Lets start from the beginning and take a look at the Redfly unit and all of its functions.

In the box you'll find the Redfly unit, AC adapter and an instruction sheet - thats it (and thats all you need).  You will have to download a small app to your device through which the Redfly will communicate. This allows you to tweak a few settings, and specify a USB or Bluetooth connection. From there just connect your device (the Redfly currently only supports the Tour, Bold and Curve 8900) and switch on the Redfly. The unit is instant on, so it fires up insanely quick meaning no wait time. This is useful on many levels. If you're mid-email and its running a bit longer than you thought, you can instantly switch to the Redfly to finish it out. You won't have to factor in wait time for booting since there is none, which is awesome. Once you're connected your BlackBerry screen shows up on the Redfly and all the functions are moved onto the unit. 

Redfly Unit

Sides
Side by side with HP Mini Netbook

The unit itself has a familiar layout. It looks just like any laptop (moreso a Netbook now) with a full keyboard layout (complete with F keys) and a two-button trackpad on the bottom.  The quality of the display is good overall, and I don't think anyone using the Redfly will be seeking a high definition display anyway. The build quality is good and the unit feels solid. It is extremely light and very portable. Small enough to carry in pretty much any bag or briefcase, and maybe even in some coat pockets. There is a port for the AC adapter, two USB ports and a VGA port. You have the ability to hook up an external accessory like a mouse or full size keyboard, and also a monitor or projector for presentations or larger viewing.  

Keyboard
Keyboard and Trackpad

When first using the unit, I found it hard to get out of the "laptop" mentality. Seeing a full keyboard, trackpad and display makes me feel like I'm at a laptop, but I had to remind myself that I was using a laptop-hybrid if you will. Gone was the OS and some functions I was used to, and it was replaced with my BlackBerry OS. The Redfly gives you the option of using either a 5-way scroll method that mimicks the trackball movement (and even shows a trackball icon on the screen, which is obtrusive at times) or the typical mouse movement. Using the mouse mode I found the adjustment of scrolling through my icons fairly easy, and once I got into the swing it went smoothly. I think that overall once you get used to it the 5-way navigation is the way to go. Both take some adjustment, but having both should leave the option for everyone to find whats best.  

Side by Side
Redfly Keyboard and HP Mini Keyboard Comparison

When it comes to actually typing I had some difficulty. Over the last few months I've slowly adjusted to typing on the smaller keyobard on my HP Mini. I still find it difficult and frustrating at times, but I can do it when I have to. One of the first things I noticed about the Redfly was the small keyboard. It is a good deal smaller than a standard netbook keyboard, which may be an instant turn off for some users. Certain keys like the Shift are just way to small and really slow you down at times which is a big downfall. Other things you have to adjust to when navigating with the keyboard are remembering which keys are for what. Like the dedicated menu key on the keyboard that activates the BlackBerry menu. Its tough at times to remember that you're not on a laptop, so you can't just click the Start button to get a menu, and you actually have to hit the Menu button the keyboard.

Keyboard
Redlfy Keyboard

Some things are inhibited by the APIs that are a drawback as well. Web browsing is hindered by the fact that a page will not scroll when you reach the bottom. You have to either use the spacebar as a shortcut to page down, or click the scrollbar on the side of a page. This takes some getting used to and can be a very big turnoff. I did find navigating hard at times, and there is obviously a slight delay in the interface which is to be expected.

Overall once you get used to the navigation with a different interface the hard part is over. I don't think the average user will need to own a Redfly. Consumers who rarely travel will not have a full time use for the device unless the larger screen and keyboard is more appealing. I honestly can say that a BlackBerry user for the most part will be able to type quicker on the actualy device than with the Redfly. The web browser is a downer since its more trouble than its worth without being able to scroll fully through the pages. I think that business users who are stuck behind a BES and travel often will find the most value in the Redfly. Being able to connect on a larger unit through the device will be a big bonus. Using the company Wifi and data as opposed to a personal laptop is a definite bonus. 

The Redfly is available in a 7" version for $199 and an 8" version for $249. For more information or to purchase a unit, check out celiocorp.com/where_to_buy.

Contest: We have one Redfly C7 unit to give away (the one seen in this review actually - used but not abused). Just leave a comment on this post to be entered. Contest ends this Sunday at Midnight PST. 

687 comments

wcmarchese

You don't know how much I'd appriciate this.

WCM

wcmarchese

You don't know how much I'd appriciate this.

WCM

mantheron

Interesting idea, I wonder if it could take a serious chunk out of netbook sales.

LuVNmyBlackberry

This device is a big plus for us people on the go! I sure would need one of these devices!

CyBrry

would love to have one of these

Syco54645

I would never buy one but I will gladly take one for free!!!!

inspector6

I would love to help you promote your product. Thanks for your consideration. :)

Edsosa

This is great for traveling and meetings!!

stubbornswiss

Real CrackBerry CrackHeads do ALL their CrackBerry computing on their BlackBerry's, without any of these crackerjack add-ons!

NO....I dont want one!!

chgogolfpro

perfect for an old guy like me....

ronin2046

I'd love to win one! Pick me!

Bolo Banderas

This would be great! Pick me!

roninksb

Oh my, winning this would really be spiffy!

wilso2wr

I want oen of these so bad. My blackberry is my only internet right now so me an my mom are having a hard time seeing everything.

IBMguy

yes i would love to win this......

fireinv

This would be great for the fire department.
Assistant Chief Bob Leonard

tsells

My first time to enter a CB contest!

pmich

Great idea of a product! Hope i can win this!

Mr.Girafales

that actually looks pretty cool.

Emissary

This would be an interesting win!

asggold

Imagine the possibilities? Smaller and lighter airplane carry-on bag!

oliv2915

This would be nice to have. Crossing mt fingers in hope that it will be my lucky day.

ilabelu

wow, i plumb forgot about the redfly. saw it advertised when the acer eeepc was introduced. considered it, but wasn't compatable with my palm treo at the time (gee, that seems like a lifetime ago).

i would love to give this thing a try now with my BB curve and soon to be upgraded Tour. BuzzBuzz

dsump

Please enter me in this one. Nice to use on a motorcycle

blak8830

Glad I noticed the comments - almost missed the giveaway piece

morgawr

This would be nice to have.

Cohibaluvr

I'd definately rock this out with my Tour.

cavingjan

I was looking forward to the Folio when I had a Treo. This looks like the same thing for the BB.

Quincy462

Another gadget to add to my collection. But this one looks usefull!

Smoky311

I'd gladly take a used one!

Dreyfus42

Love this idea - where can I get one??

bordapapa

Yup, it would be nice! :D

Buch12

Looks nice to have but will many people pay for it?

lydxterra

Wow!!!.... This would make all the time i spend in airports much more productive!!! I need to get my hands on one of these!!!!

cdguerre

hey if its free99 i'll use it

BlackBerry Brian

I would LOVE to have this!

Penutbutter_N_Jelly

This would be so sweet to win. Please pick me!

AQucsaiJr

I would love to pick one of these up. The price for one is out of my affordable range, and I believe it would come in very handy for me at school and work.

bgouin

i want to become redfly addict also

Barredbard

The redfly sounds like a swell buy for a well-bred guy to prevent wet, red eyes from glaring at the inert screen of the Blackberry beyond bed time. Rock on...

luke-f

These devices look awesome - So many times have I been stuck In a hotel room hindered by a backlog of email and sore thumb from my BlackBerry.

It would be a bonus if I Won One !

giardinop

This would be great for me to teach my fello BB users on. Somehow I'm always tapped for "how do you do that on the BlackBerry?"

philchang

Enter me! Looks like exactly what I need! What I don't understand is why it only got a silver star? What took the gold?

delsolracing

This is an awesome idea and would love to win!!

lyoko37

That is pretty amazing! Great idea guys. I wouldn't mind picking up one.

SteveO86

Wow, that's really an amazing peice of technology I could see some hard card BlackBerry Users purchasing this.

chaz_cb

Now this is sweet. I'd love to have one. First contest in a long time, where if I don't win it, I'm buying it.

bmtbandit

would be really nice on Air Planes, bigger video etc.

UnicyclistRobe

You can pass it off to me if you want.

Mikeha

Please select me. Thanks.

LF999

This would be a great tool for me, as i do alot of traveling, and it would be great not to have to drag my laptop with me everytime. I think it would also look awsome with my strom.

juwaack68

Thanks for the comprehensive review.

Did I win yet? ;-)

OskahOfDisastah

sounds cool, would love to have the ability to do this!

Xopher

I like the idea. I wish they had a software version that would run on a standard netbook or notebook, though.

Yandar

Its an interesting idea. I'll gladly give it a spin if I win.

juszvybin

i want one! this would make typing notes in class so much easier!

jlamb30

Wow, I could use this.

Ct_mike92

Always worth trying to win a useful piece of equipment like this. Saves having to tether.

ct_mike

areyes

7 is my lucky number

afficial

WOW... This could be the greatest accessory for my Bold... It would make those lengthy layovers slightly more enjoyable.

Mummy2

It will make travelling a lot easier.

xtower

I hope I win this so I can make a video of me smashing it.

skipdogkck

Now how can I talk the company in to buying me one?

Cyberwatt

Sounds like something I might like to try out. Consider me entered. :)

tomcdman

A free one would be awesome

wdfly

ill put my name into the hat.

ihawkeyes

This product looks awesome. I would love to put this unit to use in my day to day business. Please consider me.
Thanks.

Chuckit31

That would be a very useful tool!

KurtisBertolami

Count me in for one of these puppies!

jimg57

I've got to have one of these bad boys. This is the future of personal computing. Your phone will be powerful enough to be your main PC. You will have something like the Redfly to dock your phone to when at home or at the office.

derekflint

It is a terrific idea. I used a bluetooth keyboard with my Nokia N95 plugged into my TV as a computer substitute, and apart from lag, it was fine. I think the cost is too high though; a Samsung NC10 would not cost much more in the uk. I do believe that Web OS would fit this like a glove!

joefalco

Thanks for the contest chance!

Joe

mrbirdtales

Me please. I really like this thing.

JerseyDevil980

For the traveler in me on the road a lot that sounds like it could be useful.

rholford

Free you say? sign me up!!! I'll take that one!

walt87jm

this would make doing work soo much easier then tryin to type huge emails on my storm lol

ccg

It seems like a pretty good idea. This should avoid paying for an additional data plan on my netbbok.

Furgus

I love new gadgets and this one looks pretty cool.

callmeforge

Pick me. I travel a lot.

bboutdrsmn

that would speed thing up alot

Unicorn56

I have tried to use remote desktop on my BB with frustrating results. I wonder if this is not the answer to that problem... I'd love to find out.

diamanj

Looks great, nice for the travelers!!!

rwilley

I travel on business quite a bit and really could use this. Thank you.

gaphair

Interesting concept!

vba

that's fun, I'd like to have one

gfe9

It will be great for someone with big hands.

sjpakuma

With this, the Due Date is nothing to be scared of, count me in ;]

bryan.grider

for fffffffffrrrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee?????

sounds good to meeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!

Ninjagirrll

Winner Winner chicken dinner? no? maybe? *crosses fingers*

not4no1

This fills a gap that I have been looking to fill. Maybe this would be a better choice than the netbooks I've been looking at.

Robinson BT

I hope get one!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Leviathan123

I like free stuff.

It's looks interesting, but wouldn't it kind of be a hassle to carry it around with you?

alias2on2#CB

This is ridiculously awesome in every way!!! I want to win it!!!

startsev

This looks like a great alternative to fumbled typing on the Storm! Let the contest begin!

Vinniedesmondmi

this would be a nice unit to have.

rayzryd266

I'd love to try this out!! Looks great!

brattface

I'd be the envy of my cul-de-sac.

mvoss3

Free is the best price!

jimn367#CB

I would love to have one of these! This + my tour and I have a secure computing platform that complies with company policy and gives that little bit extra ease of use.

"I think that business users who are stuck behind a BES and travel often will find the most value in the Redfly. Being able to connect on a larger unit through the device will be a big bonus. Using the company Wifi and data as opposed to a personal laptop is a definite bonus. "

That part of the review hit the nail on the head.

TheElderBerry

I would LOVE to try this out. Thanks.

r1ckynutz

Ill take one please :)

qdenning

It'll be interesting to see how this idea takes off.
Price is pretty good.

jmayfield123

Crackberry does it again. Giving away free stuff at every turn. You guys rock.

natedeezy

Hmm this would be nice on the road work won't pay for tethering.

syb0rg

feel free to send one my way . . .

dweasel36

this would be the ultimate win. i cannot even describe what it would be like to win this.

fox4800

I'd love to have this...here is my comment!

JamieMc65

This is another useful extension for the BB. Great contest!

TeLLy77

I've always wanted something like this; consider this my hat in the ring!

MrPat

I'm in. Thanks for the contest !

DanD2

Keep these contests going crackberry....they are awesome.

A Redfly in my stable would be SWEET!!!

Troggie

I could use this... yes please!

grayzweb

I'm very happy to see such great innovation with what this offers to Blackberries! I'd be happy to win this to try it out :)

jveedell

Thanks for the giveaway! :)

dizzydan58

...because i wouldn't purchase one. A netbook is faster, more powerful and in the same price range. You can tether your phone if you want internet without wifi.

This device is like wiping before you poop...it just doesn't make sense!

alc94

Doesn't seem like something I'll buy but if I win a free one I would give it a chance. Too bad this thing had potential to be even better hopefully other companys decide to make their own more useful version of this.

katt1956

My husband would love having one of these

bobbrown

My laptop just crashed making it hard to do my work in the field and documents!in this crunch time that would so help!

Hope to win! Thanks for the chance!

tony bag o donuts

Crowded amtrak or NJ transit by the time my laptop boots up, I could have 10 emails out the door...
Ideal solution....

R S L

I'd love to give you my opinions on this...

love_my_bberry

I always have trouble reading my notes for school since I have this hand problem,my writting is horribly bad that it seems like im trying to decipher a lost language. I NEED THIS!

bkhanni

Would be a great travel companion. I've been watching this product for a while, just waiting for them to come out with the Blackberry APIs. I think they will get better as time goes on as well (i.e. web browsing). Great add-on for the plane, airport, or hotel room instead of lugging a laptop along.

love_my_bberry

I always have trouble reading my notes for school since I have this hand problem,my writting is horribly bad that it seems like im trying to decipher a lost language. I NEED THIS TO TYPE MY NOTES IN!

love_my_bberry

I always have trouble reading my notes for school since I have this hand problem,my writting is horribly bad that it seems like im trying to decipher a lost language. I NEED THIS TO TYPE MY NOTES IN!

bayvilleguy14

i always enter every contest i am eligible for AND HAVE NOT WON ONCE plz this would mean a lot to me to win this

techuser

Always be REDy when you FLY.

techjpo

The Redfly unit is interesting, could see it being handy if you know you are going to be stationary for a while and have quite a bit to type. I do like the "instant on feature"-if it had to boot up I would not find the unit appealing at all.

kdmea

I travel everywhere in airports and highways and this would be great instead of my 17 inch laptop. Hope I win.

derande

interested in one of these for travel.

misskace

Fly my way!!! So cool!

richro

Interesting.. I'd rather just use a $200 netbook, but why not enter to win this for free. ;)

TJM623

i should totally win!!

fugaziiv

I 'll admit this looks like an interesting concept but I wonder what it would take to have a similar program created for already established netbooks, and then you could have the feature set of a true netbook in addition to the feature set of the redfly. I'd still like to try one out for myself however.

Matt

JustinF#CB

this would come in handy sometimes

naman919

sure, i'll take one.

carlsonwa

sucks it's not on the storm, but this would still satisfy my netbook cravings.

chosen1_88

This could come in handy when travelling and having to respond to long emails. I scrolled down to the bottom and saw the price wasn't that bad, as I was expecting it to be around $400 for a basic model. If that were the case, then I'd just get cheap netbook and tether it to my BB, but it's not.

So put me into the running for one!

saintj

I loved the idea of this from the first time I saw it mentioned in the blogs. This would be a huga asset when having to type out those long emails, amongst texts and things while on the go. In my line of work the laptop cant go everywhere.

mnl

...yep, me: the winner!

hardslog

This makes it easy to type up stuff without having to transfer or email all the files to another computer. I mean i can type alright on my BB keyboard as well but 2 thumbs can never replace 10 fingers!

bubbasixx

This is a sweet setup!!!

Rwagner304

I want this like now please :) a new toy to show all my none geek friends. Please pick me to win.

cmyoch

I need one of these!!

aceroadrunner

There's nothing better that free!

mkerbow

Please, please, please, puleeeze!

nathanix

Okay.. I really could use this on so many levels... Hook it up CB!!!

quzer

This could be very handy!

oneL8chic

this is totally awesome. sometimes its a great idea to be able to have a full keyboard and a bigger screen. Especially when working to finish a project.

Pick me Pick me pick me

cook46933

sounds cool. I can't afford one, but I could sure use the free one. Pick me!!

dwain77

I never knew there was anything like this available. Would be very handy.

crackedshel

A larger keyboard and screen would be great some times. Sign me up.

Suprah

i would love to have 1! this is my 12th participation in a contest!

robertmills

Seems interesting...I'll take it.

alonesoul

Looks cool. Please enter me!

johnjuan

Perfect would love to win

andreaholloman

I would love to win this! It would be so helpful on the road.

Andrea in NC

cantondog

would fill a ton of need. Thanks for the contest.

jbudzinski

Always up for a good giveaway, even if it is used.

davidnc

I should get picked for having a upcoming Holiday greeting as my aviator So let me know when you need my address for shipping purposes, LOL Thanks in advance too. :)

Jackskid#CB

I wanted a Palm Foleo back in the day. I really need a Redfly. Please?????????

jf2go

Looks like a good device to for frequent travelers

FredaDeeda

I SOOOO NEED THIS! PLEEEAASSE PICK ME!!!

pjmontymn

If I don't win it, I may just buy it! This would be the best thing to go with my Storm since I got my Storm! Of course, I will have to wait for it to work with my Storm... :(

mothy

This would be awesome to use. Please pick me.

bobaloo

Wow. What an awesome giveaway. I'd be really excited to shed my large & heavy personal laptop during business travel. This sounds like just the right tool.

Nmbr13

This is an interesting device, don't know how well it is going to go over, would love to have one though. So Crackberry, how about picking me.

mungera

Not a bad little gadget. not sure if its worth the price.. but if its free its DEFINATELY worth the price :)

tucg15

Please enter me in the contest, thanks! I'd love it give it a try!

mtikubwa

Pick me please. I think I am in love.

weekutch

Nice! Hope I win... I'll give it to my sister as a christmas present for her curve!!! If only it supported the storm.... :(

Tekkmonkey

This looks really cool, I hope I win!

Gimik

Seems like it might be more practical to have a netbook instead. It would be an interesting device though.

azheliflyer

Nice product...winning one makes it even nicer!!!!

c5karl

Needs to be a lot cheaper than a netbook, which it ain't. But for free? Yes, please.

myth90045

I wouldnt mind toting this bad boy around..maybe..

but a free one could change my mind!! haha

mrholder

Looks pretty cool. Hope I win!

ns424

This is exactly what I need...no more blurry vision from staring at my BB's small screen.

numus

Interesting way to circumvent the no tethering policy the carriers are placing now... No i wasen't tehtering my blackberry to a computer and access the internet, the internet was done all via the blackberry browser.. just wasent on my actual blackberry!!
Would be awesome if this could be coded for windows or on a live disk and work in other computers... Would be very interested

STEEDJON

Its about time that a mini, "mini" came out for those of us who hate imposing on another's plane space and who cannot keep the BB,(storm) out of hand! I hope the functionality lives up to the BB user's expectations.

pvtolson

hey great review and great product im in.

dan42983

I'd like a chance to win one.

wolfpacker92

Would love to win one of these for my Tour!

gattmandoo

Pick me I never win anything!

altd

What a handy little device. I was thinking about a bluetooth key board for notes on the go. This could help me out a lot!

mikedaub

I will take my shot at the drawing....

kbrosnihan

I really want one of these devices.

orangebill

It would give my thumbs a break from typing :)

jbergoon

I'll take one...this thing would be awesome!

blahzay

What an interesting product

yy713

bigger screen~ nice..

rpileggi

If it's for free.....It's for me!!!!

Bodero

Sounds like the product was imagined before the Netbook boom and took too long to market.

That being said, I'd love a free one :)

sfjon918

this would be nice to have, would be great during flight delays.. good luck to everyone

ruhrohs

Sounds like an awesome "toy" to add to the blackberry arsenal. I hope I win!

RonBoyd

Ew! Ew! Pick me. I sooo need this device.

AUTiger92

I'm getting timeouts trying to get the Blackberry driver downloaded. Anyone else have any luck?

Sno-STORM

Not a bad idea, but a little too pricey. Although a free one might be nice!

bboyes

We have a lot of travelers asking for a netbook or something smaller to travel with, this could be the answer...plus I just want one!

miata492

I had a Redfly that I used with my WinMo phones and it was great - stopped carrying my laptop on short trips. I will say that it is much better to use the internet and email when you have WiFi on your phone or if you have strong EVDO signal when connecting via BT. It is instant on and charges your battery while using it when connected via USB plus the battery lasts for WEEKS!

CrackCurve56

This would make a perfect addition to my Bold. Thanks, CrackBerry for offering this contest to us. :)

trevtheman900

this would be perfect for when I'm on the train. No more sore thumbs!!!

bubba_84120

Oh, please pick me! I am ever so needy!

FASTBerry

I have been waiting for something like this.

dfournie

This would be a great addition to my travel inventory!!!

ssjtiamat

Howver, I have yet to get any from CB!!! PLEASE!

ChowYumPhat

Very useful for business users on the go! Another reason why BB's are the best for business.

flechuga

This is exactly what I need! I think is a great device.
Please count me in for the contest!
Thankz CB!

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