Day 2 of my search for the Nirvana Deviceat CTIA 2008 ended a few hours ago, and we have some cool products to talk about. Let’s see how they do when we replace my OQO Model 2 with Nirvana Device candidates from the show.
Pic 1: Celio Corp booth at CTIA, including Citrix collateral at the booth.
Pic 2: Redfly demo at the booth connecting to XenApp 4.5.
The Redfly is a definitely a device cut from the cloth of Chris Fleck’s original Nirvana Devicepost. The Redfly is a portable docking station for Windows Mobile devices, thus a Mobile Companion, and has a built in mouse, keyboard and monitor. So you wanna run those BIG win32 apps from you WinMo device, but want a bigger screen, checkout the Redfly. It doesn’t have a CPU, memory or an OS. You connect your WinMo device to the Redfly by either USB or Bluetooth. If connected via USB, the battery in the Redfly will also charge your WinMo Device (8 hours of battery life), if it allow USB charging. Once the Redfly software is installed on your WinMo device, it will detect when it is attached to the Redfly, change the effective screen resolution to 800×480 and enable the Redfly’s mouse and keyboard transforming the user experience similar to that of a lot of UMPCs.
Pic 3: Redfly attached to an ATT Tilt in my hotel room at the Today screen.
In this scenario, the ICA client is installed on the ATT Tilt, and all processing involved and required storage is provided by the Tilt. Again, think of the Redfly as a docking station with a built in mouse, keyboard and monitor that you carry on trips as a companion.
The 800×480 resolution of the Redfly easily enables me to connect to a virtualized Citrix desktop or published application, in this case a published Microsoft Server 2003 desktop with the Luna interface enabled. As you can see from the picture below, this device has very good potential for use with both published applications as well as XenDesktop connections when using a WinMo device.
Pic 4: Picture taken as I was working on the text for this entry.
The Redfly has a number of other very useful features that really enhance its usability in my opinion.
First off, there is a VGA out port on the back of the Redfly that enables you to output the screen to a larger monitor, overhead projector or hotel TV as shown in the picture below.
Pic 5: Redfly using its VGA output to the hotel’s flat screen TV.
You’ll notice that the entire screen of the TV is not used and that the 800×480 resolution is maintained even when output to a larger monitor. Basically, you can use the Redfly as a VGA output device for you WinMo device if you like, very cool. But I would like to see the Celio guys enable you to change the resolution being displayed when VGAing out to a larger monitor. Well see what happens in subsequent releases.
So you can use the Redfly’s native screen or output to a larger screen, what about upping to a bigger keyboard and external mouse? Well, they’ve thought of this as well. There are also 2 USB ports on the back of the Redfly that you can plug in USB mice and keyboard. Even cooler IMO is that I can plug a USB stick into this slot and the device will associate this new storage as “remote storage” on the WinMo device. And you may have guessed it, ICA will now have access to this USB drive as part of its client drive mapping. For those concerned about security of such a use case, you can always disable this virtual drive mapping from the XenApp admin console.
Pic 6: Shot of the USB Flash card reader files maped into the XenApp desktop session via virtual client drive mapping. This is the actual flash card that contains the pics in this post plugged into the back of the Redfly with a USB flash card reader.
There are a number of other cool features on the Redfly, such as special function keys that are mapped to normal phone functions like Send and End calls, but I’ll
let you check out their site for these. As I stated in my initial post on my blog, when I look at devices in this space, my first thoughts are how Citrix customers can leverage such technology to enhance their use of Citrix products. So how to I rate this one, I like it. I see it as a true enabling technology when used with mobile devices to access XenApp or XenDesktop. IMO, the Redfly Mobile Companion enables a lot of the concepts that we discuss in the Nirvana Device concept. While it’s not a Nirvana smartphone, IMO it takes a lot of today’s WinMo devices and gets them a lot closer to the Nirvana use paradigm. Having the option to use the Redfly as a companion to provide a bigger screen with its mouse and keyboard, or use it as a VGA output device with an even larger external mouse and keyboard is an interesting advantage if this is what you are looking for.
Reality check: note that this entire post was produced using the ATT Tilt phone, 3G WWAN network, from the Redfly’s mouse, keyboard and native monitor connected to a XenApp published desktop. And it worked really well! Albiet, I’m used to using UMPC devices with smaller screens and keyboards, it will take some getting used to for some. So if you looking to lighten your load when traveling, and would like an ICA companion to go with you mobile phone so you can leave your laptop behind, you might want to check out the Redfly from Celio Corp.
We’d appreciate your thoughts on the use of these types of devices with XenApp and soon XenDesktop. I’m sure the Celio guys will also be interested in your input, pro or con. At the end of the day, there is no one Nirvana solution for everyone, but is the Redfly going down the right path for Citrix users looking to further leverage ICA on mobile devices?