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Palm's Foleo gone, but idea isn't

Start-up Celio is pitching a smartphone companion that's reminiscent of the ill-fated Palm product, but addresses some of its shortcomings.

Unlike the Foleo, the Redfly doesn't have an operating system, storage, or processing power. Celio

SAN FRANCISCO--When I first glimpsed the Redfly from Celio at this week's CTIA show here, I thought I was staring at a Palm Foleo.

But while both are "smartphone companions," there are a couple of key differences. First and foremost, the Redfly hasn't been shelved.

Also, although the Foleo was touted as a complement to a smartphone, it had its own Linux-based operating system and application development apparatus.

As noted in January, the Redfly looks like a laptop, but has essentially no processing power or storage of its own. Rather, it's designed to hook up with a Windows Mobile smartphone.

It takes all the applications and data from the phone (via a Bluetooth or USB connection) and adds an 8-inch screen, keyboard, and pointing device. PowerPoint presentations and Excel spreadsheets that barely show up on a 3-inch phone screen are much more usable. Also, as mobile browsers get better, Web surfing stands to be much better as well.

Palm co-founder Jeff Hawkins introduces the Palm Foleo at the May 2007 D: All Things Digital conference. CNET Networks

It's price tag is still hefty--around $400. That's a lot for a device that doesn't actually hold any information. Of course, that might also be Redfly's biggest selling point.

Because all the Redfly is doing is acting as a remote display for the phone, no data actually lives on the device. That feature alone could justify the price for some businesses. While most laptops can't be remotely wiped, many smartphones can.

For now, Salt Lake City-based Celio is still small, with just over a dozen employees.

Marketing Vice President Brad Warnock told me his company still hopes to crack into the consumer market, but understands that it needs to get its costs down before that's a practical option.