A company called Celiocorp has launched a completely different take on the netbook phenomenon. Instead of offering a lightweight computer running either Linux or XP like today’s netbooks do, this notebook PC is entirely powered by a device you already own: your smartphone. Dubbed a “mobile companion,” the Redfly device has an 8-inch screen, a full-sized keyboard and touch pad, and is connected to your smartphone via a USB cable or Bluetooth.
To use the Redfly notebook, all you need to do is install the Redfly driver on your phone (see supported phones here). You can then use the netbook like any computer. Its bigger screen makes it easier to read documents, write emails, or surf the web. Redfly supports remote desktop, virtualization and other cloud-based environments like Citrix, GoToMyPC, LogMeIn, Microsoft’s Remote Desktop protocol, stoneware, inc., and others. The netbook also features a VGA connector so you can connect your Redfly netbook to a projector for presentations.
As you use the Redfly device, you can be charging your smartphone too, assuming it’s plugged in via the USB cable. The Redfly battery works for up to 8 hours, according to the company.
Because Redfly has no OS, no CPU, no hard drive, and requires no software licenses, its cost is lower than a laptop PC (an Amazon search shows that price to be around $199). That’s also slightly more affordable than today’s crop of OS-powered netbooks, but not by much.
The benefit to using a mobile companion instead of a PC is that the device can get lost or stolen without any threat of losing important data. Of course, a lot of companies have already started doing this now via the use of virtualized business apps running on top of the OS installed on “regular” company laptops – all the important data is in the cloud so laptop loss or theft isn’t as big a concern as before. However, given the price ($199) of Redfly vs. that of a laptop, the replacement cost would be minimal.