Tool Review: Eye-Fi Wireless Memory Card

Tool Review: Eye-Fi Wireless Memory Card


Eye-Fi wireless memory cards improve the photo-taking experience. You no longer have to hassle with USB cables or fumble around with manually copying your images off an SD card because your images will be exactly where you want them, when you want them. Once you’ve configured your Eye-Fi card you’ll get that same frictionless experience you get from a smartphone, but with better quality photos and video since you’re using a real camera with a real lens.

In this latest update from Eye-Fi they’ve added capacity, bumped up the speed, improved their management interface, and added a few bells and whistles to make owning one that much more attractive. It will easily change the way you capture, store, and share your photography in fun and interesting ways.

With increased physical storage you’ll be able to snap more photos and shoot more video, which is great for the ever increasing resolutions of newer cameras. I’ve found that the 4GB of the entry level Connect X2 is ample storage for my needs. Since I mostly shoot hundreds of lower resolution images with a point and shoot camera, I rarely find myself running out of space. For professional photographers that demand more from their equipment, the Eye-Fi Pro X2’s 8GB of flash memory and RAW file transfers are where it’s at.

Speedy file transfers mean you get your images out of the camera to where you want them right away. Cutting an entire step out of your photography workflow by bypassing manual file transfer is a big time saver, but being able to access your images even faster means you can preview and edit them as you shoot, which is rather liberating. I find that the newer X2 series Class 6 cards feel a little peppier when taking a shot and transfers seem a little zippier when sent over an 802.11n network. The increased speed makes the entire process feel effortless.

I wasn’t the biggest fan of the original Eye-Fi management interface. Sure, it worked, but it felt buggy and it constantly asked you to log in to your account, which got old quick. I’m happy to say that Eye-Fi has completely re-vamped their management interface as a streamlined Adobe Air app that allows you to configure your card to connect to local networks and upload photos and video directly to your computer or to an ever increasing array of online services.

Now that we’ve got the requisite features out of the way, let’s talk about some of the more interesting aspects of the Eye-Fi X2 series cards. Specifically I’d like to address the infinite storage of Endless Memory, expanded connectivity of Hotspot Access, location awareness of Geotagging, and convenience of Direct Mode. All Eye-Fi cards are capable of these additional features, but depending on the card some features may require an activation fee. The good news is that most of the cool stuff is included in the entry level card.

If you find yourself filling up your card with pictures and video that you’ve already uploaded to your computer or online service, you can use the Endless Memory option to configure the card to automatically remove files that have already been transferred. This option works seamlessly in the background and only requires you to set the amount of disk space you’d like to use. This feature is common to all X2 series cards.

Chances are, you’re most likely going to use your camera away from your local network. The Hotspot Access available through Eye-Fi is provided by AT&T Wi-Fi, Easy Wi-Fi, and Harborlink. This will get you seamless access to millions of hotspots around the world. This feature has been available for some time, but has greatly improved with the X2 series cards. Depending on the card, additional fees may apply.

Another nice thing about Eye-Fi cards is that you’ll never ask yourself where you shot a particular photo when you’re using the Eye-Fi Geotagging service. Most smartphones have GPS built in, so it’s a cinch to accomplish with a handset. But most cameras don’t have GPS, so if you’re going for the full-on smartphone experience with your DSLR, you’ll want to pick up the Eye-Fi Pro X2, which has the Geotagging service built-in. You can also add the service if your card supports it.

YouTube player

Direct Mode has to be the coolest thing to come along in the Eye-Fi world since its introduction. It basically turns your Eye-Fi X2 series card into a Wi-Fi access point that in turn talks to an Eye-Fi app running on your smartphone or tablet device. This allows you to cut your computer out of the loop and directly access and upload images and video from your mobile device. Preview your images on a tablet with a pinch-zoom touch interface. Upload your media directly to the cloud as you shoot it. Not only is this a great creative tool for teams, but it’s also perfect for bloggers and journalists working on the front line that are constantly afraid of having their equipment seized.

I would recommend checking out an Eye-Fi wireless memory card to anyone that takes photos with a digital camera. It completely changes the way you use your equipment and opens the door to new possibilities. For instance, since you can transfer your images to a directory on your computer, you can easily include it in projects that require quality imagery such as computer vision or astronomy automation projects. Trigger a process by taking a photo. Have it dump directly into your DropBox account for easy access. You get the idea.

The card itself is bright orange and comes with a USB SD card reader for configuration. Setting up a card to use a local network takes only a few minutes and adding it to your favorite social media service is a snap. You’ll also want to take into account that, even though it’s as tiny as an SD card, it’s still a full-on Wi-Fi radio, so you should have plenty of batteries on hand. You’ll also want to keep your camera powered on a few seconds after you’ve taken a photo to make sure the files have transferred over.

Enter the Make: Projects 2011 Halloween Contest for your chance to win an Eye-Fi Connect X2 wireless memory card.

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!

I make cool stuff and write about other people making cool stuff on If you have something you think I should see, send me a tip.

View more articles by Adam Flaherty