The 16GB Eye-Fi Pro X2 ($99.99 direct) is the largest capacity Eye-Fi SD card, and the most full-featured yet. It promises to do quite a bit: Wirelessly transfer photos from your camera to your home computer, phone, or tablet, add GPS data to images, and support both standard JPG and Raw image formats. If you’re using the card to transfer photos to your computer it works without hiccups, but the mobile experience leaves a lot to be desired.
Features, Setup, At-Home Use
The Pro X2 adds a few features over the $60 8GB Eye-Fi Mobile X2 . With the Mobile X2, you don’t get Raw transfer or geotagging support, and it’s a bit slower due to its Class 6 speed rating (the Pro X2 is Class 10). Because the Eye-Fi’s Wi-Fi radio draws power from your camera, battery life will be noticeably shorter than when you’re using a standard SD card.
In order to configure the Eye-Fi, you’ll need to install an application on your PC or Mac—it’s preloaded on the card itself, so you can do so by plugging it into your SD card reader. You’re walked through setting up an account which lets you manage your card and activate your phone—there’s a separate app that you’ll need to download for your iOS or Android device to complete that part. This is also where you add Wi-Fi network information to the Eye-Fi, so it can connect automatically.
Setting up the card to work with your network is straightforward, and the card works well in a home-network environment. You can shoot away around the house or studio and images will automatically transfer to a designated folder on your computer—it’s also possible to set the Eye-Fi to only transfer photos you select, which is better if you plan on using the card to push only the shots you want on social networks or photo sharing sites. If you’ve been out and about shooting, just turn your camera on when you get home and the transfer will start automatically.
Mobile Use, Endless Memory, Conclusions
But what about those times when you’re away from your home network? You can set up Direct Mode, which turns the Eye-Fi into a hotspot, so that you can transfer photos directly to your phone. It’s not a seamless experience—first you’ll have to go into your phone settings and change the settings in the app to make the Eye-Fi card the destination for photos—you can’t configure the software to send photos to both your phone and your computer. Direct Mode is only available when the card is out of range of known Wi-Fi networks—you won’t be able to transfer photos to your phone when your home Wi-Fi is available for use—unless you first plug the card into your computer and delete the record of your home network, or unplug your router.
The iOS app leaves a lot to be desired. It’s easy to share JPGs via email, but if you want to email a Raw photo to yourself you won’t be able to—the option is there, but it doesn’t work, it just creates a blank email. If you go into your iOS photo library you can email a JPG version of the Raw image, but that’s it. You’ll also have to perform all types of file management from the iOS photo library—you can’t delete images from within the Eye-Fi app, nor is there a way to browse photos on the card via the phone as you can with a Wi-Fi camera like the Samsung WB850F . It’s best to use the Eye-Fi app only to transfer photos and to use the normal functions of your phone to share them via mail, text, or social networks.
If you find yourself shooting gigs and gigs of photos and video, you’ll be interested in the Endless Memory feature, which is included with every Eye-Fi card. Once your card starts to fill up (you can set the threshold) photos that have been successfully transferred to your computer are deleted to free up space. With 16GB available you’ll have to shoot a lot to have it kick in, but if you opt to buy the 4GB Eye-Fi Connect X2 you might find yourself taking advantage of it. The company also offers a cloud storage service for photos and videos, although that will cost you an extra $50 per year.
The geotagging function only works if you’re within range of a Wi-Fi network—there’s no actual GPS built into the device. It picks up the location data from via the Skyhook network, and is pretty accurate—but if you’re shooting in an area where there’s no Wi-Fi it won’t work—you’ll need a camera with a built-in GPS like the Sony Alpha 77 to bridge that gap. If you already have an Eye-Fi Connect X2 or Mobile X2, you can add geotagging support to the card for $30.
At just under $100, the Eye-Fi Pro X2 is too expensive for what it delivers—especially when you can get an 8GB Eye-Fi Mobile X2 for $60 and only lose a bit of functionality and speed. If a 4GB card suits your needs, the Connect X2 can be had for $40—its functions are identical to the Mobile X2. As it stands, the Eye-Fi system makes it difficult for shooters who want to transfer files wirelessly at home or in the studio, but also want to be able to transfer the occasional photo to their cell phone for a quick tweet, Facebook share, or Foursquare check-in—going back and to change settings in the Eye-Fi software isn’t convenient. If you only want to do one or the other, however, your experience will be a lot more pleasant.
If you’re looking for a more streamlined Wi-Fi experience, you may want to consider saving the $100 and putting it together with your other pennies in order to invest in a new camera. The Samsung WB850F is a little over $300, but has a long zoom lens and Wi-Fi built-in. The Samsung Galaxy Camera is more expensive at $500, but packs the Android operating system and cellular data, so you can upload photos to the Web even when there isn’t Wi-Fi. If a point-and-shoot doesn’t suit your standards for quality you can invest in a Samsung NX1000 , an APS-C compact interchangeable lens camera that has Wi-Fi and can push photos to Twitter or Facebook with ease, or you can go all-in on Canon’s full-frame EOS 6D D-SLR, the first in its class to have built-in Wi-Fi.
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Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc