If you’re still using a digital camera (in this smartphone era), and you haven’t heard of Eye-Fi, then prepare to have your life made easy. Eye-Fi is an SD memory card with a twist; it has built-in WiFi. Using the Eye-Fi, you can wirelessly transmit your photos to your computer or the internet, while you’re still taking them! The new Eye-Fi Mobile X2 model can even wirelessly transmit the photos to your Android, iPhone or iPad.
The Eye-Fi is a regular SD card — SDHC Class 6, to be more specific. This means it works in virtually any camera that uses a regular SD card. Class 6 has a read/write speed of at least 6 MB/s, which is plenty fast for even DSLR cameras. The Eye-Fi looks and feels like any SD card, and it also works with regular SD card readers.
Astonishingly, this little card has built in Wi-Fi. It supports 802.11B, G, and even N. With proper setup, it can connect to pretty much any WiFi network (WEP, WPA, and WPA2 security support). It can even broadcast its own WiFi signal so you can connect directly to it from a mobile device or computer; no router required. It has a range of 90 feet outdoors and 45 feet indoors.
There’s a few different Eye-Fi cards currently available; the newest is the Mobile X2. The Mobile X2 is an 8GB card that can sync to an iOS device or Android device, anywhere. That means you can be in the middle of an ocean, sync your magnificent HD shots straight to your iPhone, and then email them out to the world. No cords required. The Connect X2 is the entry-level Eye-Fi card; it cannot sync to mobile. Both models can sync photos and videos to the web, computer, or both.
The Mobile X2 Eye-Fi can wirelessly sync to a mobile device, a computer, to the web, or all of the above. The setup is pretty straight forward, but it can actually get pretty advanced. There is a nice number of options, all of which can be configured using the Eye-Fi Center application for Windows or Mac. Nicely enough, the application and everything you need to start is stored on the actual card. It comes with an SD memory card reader. There is really no instructions required to set up the Eye-Fi. The Eye-Fi center will prompt you through the set up, one step at a time. Once the card is initialized, there’s a few options:
You can setup an Eye-Fi card to remember up to 32 private Wi-Fi networks, that should cover every router you regularly use, and then some. You can’t make Eye-Fi connect to a new router without your computer, that’s when you’d take advantage of Direct Mode. The Eye-Fi center gives you an SSID and WPA2 password to connect to.
In addition to uploading to your mobile device or computer, you can upload your photos directly to online accounts. Some of the popular sharing and photo sites include: Facebook, Flickr, MobileMe, Picasa, Photobucket, Shutterfly, Snapfish, and Costco. Each has privacy settings that can be configured.
You can choose to be notified as photos and videos are uploaded from your Eye-Fi card. It supports email, SMS, Twitter, and Facebook.
This is where the Eye-Fi gets a bit confusing. There are a few different “transfer modes” to choose from. Selective Transfer allows you to select certain images to be uploaded or shared by using the camera’s “protect” function. Most people won’t use this feature, but it’s neat to have. There’s Relayed Transfer, which doesn’t require your computer (or mobile device) to be on at the same time your Eye-Fi is. Relayed Transfer is a great feature, and strangely it’s not turned on by default. Lastly, there is Endless memory. This is a neat feature which automatically deletes media from your memory card after it’s been successfully uploaded. You can set a threshold, so this feature only kicks in once you’re, say, 75% storage capacity.
With a proper setup, the Eye-Fi is absolutely amazing. It takes some fiddling, but that’s not to say a tech-challenged user couldn’t pull it off. The Eye-Fi Center is pretty good about explaining features.
It’s crazy to think how much the little card can do; it’s even crazier when you realize it has very little effect on your camera’s battery power.
The wireless transfer speed can be slow. This isn’t so much an issue of Eye-Fi, but more of network and bandwidth limitations. The resolution/size of your photos and videos also has a large impact. If you use relayed transfer then your media needs to be temporarily uploaded to the cloud until it can transfer to your computer or mobile device. You’re limited by your internet’s upload speed. Considering digital photos can be 5MB and up, this can take a considerable amount of time. This is something to be conscious of, as it can dramatically slow down your network.
While the Eye-Fi iOS app does a great job of receiving all of Eye-Fi’s media, it still has some room for improvement. I take a lot of photos for Chip Chick. The Eye-Fi app will transfer all of these photos to my iPhone’s camera roll; it’d be nicer to have a dedicated Eye-Fi camera folder. It would also be nice if I could pick and choose which photos I want to transfer to my phone (so I’m not manually deleting 200 from my Camera Roll).
Normally, I use my Mobile X2 Eye-Fi card like I would a regular SD card: I take a bunch of pictures, then immediately remove the card and plug it into my computer. In the background, all of my photos are being effortlessly uploaded to my private online Photobucket account. Then I can access all of my shots whenever and wherever I want. Photobucket will host unlimited photos for free. It’s a beautiful thing!
There are a few different add-on features for an additional cost. Eye-Fi View is their hosting website/app that allows you to store all of your uploads in their cloud. It’s $49.99/year; which is fair. Geotagging, on the other hand, is a feature that the card is fully capable of, however Eye-Fi charges an additional $29.99 to unlock it. That’s pretty annoying, especially considering it just uses WiFi to determine location, there’s not an actual built-in GPS. The last add-on feature enables your Eye-Fi to recognize Public Hotspots specifically AT&T Wi-Fi, Easy Wi-Fi, and Harborlink Wi-Fi hotspots. This feature costs $29.99/year.
The Eye-Fi Mobile X2 Memory Card is an amazing product. The setup can be a little tricky at first, but once it’s setup, it just keeps on working. Photos and videos can be thoughtlessly and seamlessly uploaded to your computer, mobile devices, and cloud networks all at once… and without ever removing your memory card! No matter where you are, you can transfer media to your iPhone, iPad, or Android, and share it with the world. It’s comforting to know no matter how hard you mess up the setup, you’ll always have a working Class 6 SDHC card. The 8GB Eye-Fi Mobile X2 Memory Card costs $79.99, which is not a bad price at all. It can also be found on Amazon for as little as $56.99. It really wasn’t too long ago that even the cheapo non-Wi-Fi 8GB SD cards cost that much.
The Good: Wirelessly Transfers Pictures to Mobile, Computer, and Internet, Lots of Options/Settings, Can Remember 32 Wi-Fi Networks, 8GB Class 6, Affordable, Includes SD Card Reader
The Bad: Social Network Support Transfers Can be Slow, Geotagging Should Be Included, Mobile App Could be Better