Nathan Edwards Jun 24, 2008

Eye-Fi Wireless Flash Card

At A Glance

I, Robot (the book)

Automatically-configures security; compatible with lots of web photo sharing sites; 2GB of storage ain't shabby either.

I, Robot (the movie)

Slow wireless uploads; can't upload RAW or video files; can't connect to secured wireless access points.

Miniaturization has brought us amazing advances—tiny transistors, microscopic nanotubes, bite-size Frosted Mini Wheats, and now the Eye-Fi. Combining a 2GB flash card with a Wi-Fi radio, this affordable hybrid card lets you easily upload pictures directly from your camera to the web and your PC.

Setup is easy. You plug it into your PC and run the included software, pick from a list of photo-sharing sites (including SmugMug, Flickr, and Facebook), create an Eye-Fi account, and configure security (40-128 bit WEP, WPA-PSK, or WPA2-PSK). For our test, we uploaded images to SmugMug from our Canon EOS 1D-MkII N.

Like magic, images we shot popped up on our SmugMug page and the client PC. Of course, Wi-Fi capability in a digital camera isn’t new—but it’s never been this cheap, this tiny, or this universal. Because the Eye-Fi is a standard-size SD card, it should work in almost any camera.

So what’s wrong with it? Speed. It took roughly 6 minutes to transfer a 5MB image over our corporate LAN, which has 14Mb uploads and 30Mb downloads. Bang out 35 photos, and you’ll have to leave the camera on for the evening to upload your pics. Fortunately, the images are also stored on the card, so if you shut down, you can resume your upload later. What is wacky is that images are sent from the card to Eye-Fi’s server, which then disperses them to your website or PC. The impact on battery life is difficult to gauge but is certainly a drag. The card also can’t upload video or RAW files and doesn’t work with access points without security or in peer-to-peer mode.

Despite all these warts, the Eye-Fi is still very cool. You could, for example, use it to post snaps of your hot New Year’s party to the web as it’s happening. The card’s also handy for tuckered parents who don’t have the energy to upload images of little Timmy to a web page for grandma to see. With the Eye-Fi, you bang out a couple of shots and set your camera down. There are clearly improvements to be made, but for $100, it’s a fun toy to try out.


Eye-Fi Wireless Flash Card

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