Hands On With Eye-Fi

I’ve had the Eye-Fi on hand for a few months now, and generally speaking, I’m a believer.

This agnostic 2GB WiFi SD card ($100) allows most digital cameras to store and wirelessly transmit JPEG photos to both a local Mac or Windows PC and one of many online destinations (Facebook, Flickr, SmugMug, etc). It’s the perfect tool for the lazy blogger (that’d be me) or tech novices (like my mom) – removing the need for card readers or USB cables and manual imports. Though I wouldn’t recommend the Eye-Fi to those regularly shooting hundreds of photos, as WiFi uploads are slower than your existing transfer methods and camera battery life will be impacted. I’ve been mostly satisfied using the card for shooting and transmitting blog photos… Pics are conveniently uploaded into iPhoto on my MacBook Pro and into my Flickr account (as a backup archive).

My older Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX9 has experienced the occasional prob: Sometimes after attempting to snap a pic, the camera fully extends and then retracts the lens in a sort of zoom cycling – and unfortunately, an image is not captured. A nice-to-have feature that I’d like to see integrated into the very nice software interface and service is the ability to send my phone a text message once the current batch of photos has finished uploading (so I know it’s safe to turn off the camera). I’d also like a way to transmit videos, and I’ve noticed others looking for RAW support – though I’m not sure those folks fall within the typical Eye-Fi demographic.

Today, Eye-Fi is announcing the expansion of their product lineup. The card I have is being re-branded the Eye-Fi Share (still $100), providing both computer and online service uploads. At the lower-end, the Eye-Fi Home ($80) facilitates only camera -> local computer transmissions. At the high-end, the forthcoming Eye-Fi Explore ($130) will geotag all photos and adds Wayport hotspot uploads (free the first year, $19/yr thereafter). While the geotagging feature is pretty cool, until/unless Starbucks hotposts (AT&T or T-Mobile) are added, I’d purchase the Share card… which I’m surprised they’re not offering (yet?) in 4GB capacities.

Overall, I’ve appreciated what the Eye-Fi offers and it’s one of the few review products I’ll purchase once the loaner has been returned or raffled off.

10 thoughts on “Hands On With Eye-Fi”

  1. I guess I just don’t get it. It seems like might be nice to have, but the price premium doesn’t seem worth it. Bluetooth would be easier to manage than Wi-Fi, but I suppose it’d be even slower.

  2. Call me crazy, but i dont see whats so hard about sticking a memory card into a convient reader that sits on a desk… I rather not waste battery life AND have slower reads and writes, which probably eat up more time then putting the stick in your pc.

  3. I’m mostly mobile, and my laptop doesn’t have a card reader. Though I do have a 2GB SanDisk “flippy” SD->USB card that I used prior to the Eye-Fi and still use for video, but I prefer just leaving the camera on for a few minutes while doing other stuff (often in a separate room or location) while things are automatically transferred in the background. My computer can be off and it’ll still upload to Flickr and when I turn the computer back on, the Eye-Fi service will push pics down to iPhoto. I think I mentioned “lazy” above… ;)

  4. RandomRage & Ben,
    There’s nothing hard about uploading photos. It’s just one of those things that get put off or worse for many non-tech folks never happens. No matter how easy it is, if it involves more than one or two steps it isn’t going to happen. So if I can automate it for my Dad, it’s worth it. And for me, its just a “nice-to-have” kind of thing….

  5. I have a quick question…If you are out and take 20 pictures, when you return home you turn on your camera, and it will know that only the last 20 pics havent been uploaded and only upload the new ones?? Also you do have to turn the camera on for it to upload right?

  6. Ben, yeah – the camera has to be on and the Eye-Fi knows which are the new photos to upload. On the Mac, you have the option to show little thumbnails of each picture in the upper right as they’re coming in. I don’t pay attention to specific pictures, but when I don’t see anymore I turn off the camera. In iPhoto, the pics are organized into folders by date.

  7. I wish this worked on my Sony camera!!! I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve needed to shoot a quick pic for a blog post, and it’s been such a pain having to shoot, then find a cable and plug in to capture the image on my PC. I’m so sick of cables.

  8. Don’t buy this card if you’re unfortunate enough to be connected to the internet by satellite! The card must be configured online in order to work for even local uploading through the network to your hard drive, and you cannot connect to the Eye-Fi server if you’re on satellite internet access. Eye-Fi says this is because Hughes uses “hidden proxies”. I’ve even tried doing the Turbo Page Server bypass mode with Hughes – no good. Eye-Fi says it’s Hughes’ fault; Hughes says it’s Eye-Fi’s fault. Now I’m stuck with an expensive, worthless card I can’t use.

    It WOULD have been a good idea. I use my camera to take zoom shots of wild birds through my windows, and the Eye-Fi automatically transferring the images to my computer would allow me to see if any adjustments need to be made to the settings without shutting down the camera and removing the card, or moving the camera closer to the computer to download via its USB connection.


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