Eye-Fi Wireless SD Photo Memory Card – Review
April 9, 2008
It’s not that I don’t occasionally find things I want to take a picture of, it’s just that I seldom think about it far enough in advance to be sure I’ve got everything rounded up, the battery in my camera charged, etc. to be ready when the opportunity strikes.
Similarly, after I take some pictures, it’s a hassle to gather up the data cables, memory card readers or whatever other gear is required to get them onto my computer so I can deal with them. (Yeah, I’m the guy that used to go in to have a roll of film developed with photos from 12 events over 3 years on it).
That’s where the Eye-Fi card is brilliant. It won’t automatically charge my camera for me, but it does make dealing with pictures once I take them dirt simple.
As far as your camera is concerned, the Eye-Fi is an ordinary 2GB SD card. It works in pretty much any camera that will take an SD card, but once a picture is taken, it automatically sends it out over the local wi-fi system to your computer, and/or your choice of 20 popular photo-hosting sites (Flickr, SmugMug, etc. — there’s a whole list here) — all without your camera ever knowing.
When you first get the Eye-Fi card, there’s a one-time setup process where you insert the Eye-Fi card into a USB card reader (which comes with it), and plug it into your computer. The setup software (for Windows and Mac) is right on the card — launch it, and it installs the Eye-Fi manager on your computer, and takes you to the Eye-Fi site to manage your settings. There you choose your wireless networks (the card does 802.11B/G, and can handle WEP 40/104/128, WPA-PSK, WPA2-PSK encryption), and where you want the photos to go when you take them. I have it upload mine to my Flickr account (and mark them private until I look at them, although you can make them public automatically), plus stick them in iPhoto on my desktop computer.
That’s about all there is to it. I take a picture, it’s on my computer, and on my Flickr account. If I’m away from my wi-fi (it has a range of about 45 feet indoors, 90 feet outdoors), all I have to do is switch the camera on when I get back, and it automatically starts uploading. No muss, no fuss, no cables, no nothing. The impact of the Eye-Fi card on camera battery life seems to be negligible.
If you want to upload the photos from someone else’s wi-fi, it’s a little more complicated — you’ve got to use your computer and Eye-Fi Manager to tell the card to use a new network (it can handle about as many as you want to configure), and there’s of course no way for the card to log into a “public hot-spot” or anything.
Alternatively, you can carry something like the Cradlepoint PHS300 Personal Hotspot to automatically upload photos from anywhere you have access to a 3G cell signal.
The Eye-Fi costs a bit more than a normal 2GB SD card, but at $99 it’s still dirt cheap. It’s also probably not for everyone — if you’re big into digital photography, 2GB may not be enough for you, and you might not be bothered by having to get the photos off your camera. But for dilettantes like me, this just makes it that much more of a no-brainer to grab the camera and take a couple of photos.