When Palm announced its Foleo, then failed to follow up with a shipping product last year, sages across the industry wisely nodded their heads in a "I told you so". Why buy a relatively dumb laptop, they asked, when a fully functioning product such as the Eee PC could be had for less money?
In the inimitable words of our very own Gordon Kelly, it was; an utter disaster of a product that should never have gotten off the drawing board. Well, if the Foleo was a disaster of a product, I wonder what he would have made of Celio's Redfly? (I thought this! - Gordon).
It's effectively the same concept as the Foleo, and though it looks like a mini laptop such as an Eee PC, it's actually what's called a mobile companion. No, it's not an electric blanket for your smartphone to keep it warm during the long, cold winter nights, but a terminal that connects to your Windows Mobile phone; what you see on the screen of the Redfly is effectively your own smartphone's operating system, complete with mobile office suite, push email, connection to the Internet and so on. There's no storage on the Redfly, and not much processing power either - it relies on the phone to do pretty much everything bar display the image on screen.
It's a nicely designed and extremely portable device, too. The chassis is wrapped entirely in an attractive burgundy soft-touch plastic finish and it feels robust enough to take its fair share of knocks. Around the edges of the device are a couple of USB ports, which can be used to connect USB flash drives, an external mouse as well as the phone you're interfacing to, plus a VGA port for connection to an external monitor. And at 229 x 152 x 51mm and 0.9kg, it's smaller and lighter than the smallest of the Asus Eee PCs as well.
And there's no denying that it does what it claims to do pretty well. Plug in your smartphone via USB and a few seconds later, its screen instantly appears on the 8in 800 x 480 pixel TFT display of the Redfly. Bluetooth setup is a simple job, too. I hooked up my HTC TyTN II and was tapping out this review in a matter of moments, browsing the web and sending email out without pause for thought. Though there's no microphone or speaker on the Redfly, receiving calls is simple too - simply click Answer on the screen of the Redfly when the phone rings and pick up your handset to talk as normal.