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When we reviewed Eye-Fi’s original wireless SD card (March 2008), our verdict was that this device, which lets you automatically upload images to the Internet via Wi-Fi, was a cool gee-whiz item hurt by a number of flaws. This update fixes those weaknesses and turns this wireless card into a must-have item for photo-sharing.
The original card worked with only secured access points that you had to program in manually. With the Explore, if you take a photo at the park and then walk into the range of one of the 10,000 supported hot spots (you get one year of free access; subsequent years cost $20), the camera will automatically start uploading your pics to the photo-sharing website of your choice. Even better, walk near an unsecured access point and the Explore will climb aboard and upload your photos from there.
You can either access just your secured access points or turn on open hotspot support, but there’s no way to limit which open access points the card will seek out—and using an open access point without permission is against the law in some states. The card’s geotagging feature isn’t perfect either. The tags are not based on GPS coordinates; rather, they’re based on a survey of Wi-Fi networks by Skyhood Wireless. The company claims to have millions of access points mapped, but that won’t help you if you’re standing on top of Half Dome at Yosemite.
Even with these problems, the Eye-Fi Explore is damned cool. For users of the original card, a firmware update adds the geotagging and hotspot support, so there’s no reason to upgrade.
Now if Eye-Fi could increase the storage capacity beyond 2GB and make a Compact Flash version we’d be even happier.
Open access-point support makes the Explore a kick-ass, must-have card.
Reliance on Wi-Fi makes geotagging unreliable.