Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Why I don't recommend the Eye-Fi Memory Card

For those of you who don't know, the Eye-Fi combines an SD memory card with a WiFi radio. The idea is that it will automatically transfer photos from your camera to your computer using your WiFi network. Sounds good right, especially for us RV'ers who are always taking photos? Also, it claims to offer geo-tagging support which will add the location of where the photo was taken to the photo itself so that you can search by location in programs such as Picasa or iPhotos.

So why aren't we selling them? Well, the concept is good, but after spending a couple of weeks testing one, I found it had a number of drawbacks, especially for RV'ers:-

  • It requires a local WiFi network, so you need a router in your rig.
  • It's quite hard to set up, especially if you're not familiar with WiFi
  • You need to lchange your camera's auto-power-off feature since the camera needs to be turned on all the time it is copying photos. That can take quite some time (see below) which means that my camera battery was always almost flat.
  • The geo-tag feature while sounding nice, isn't what it appears. I thought it used GPS which would have meant that it would work anywhere. In fact, it uses a map of known WiFi hotspots to try to deduce where it is. No Wifi hotspot, no geo-tag.
  • The most significant drawback is the fact that in order to automatically copy your photos to your computer, it must first copy them to the EyeFi server! This means that if you have a slow internet connection it can take a long time, or if you have a datacard, your paying for the megabytes to be transferred both up and down.
In the end I decided it was much easier just to open my camera and put the card into the computer. Not as high-tech, but faster, more reliable and a lot cheaper!

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for the write-up.

    A few clarifications:

    * If you have something like a MiFi, it acts as your Wi-Fi router and your internet connection, in one.

    * You can also use something like the Android, Palm Pre Plus, or Windows phone, to tether through the phone. Same thing as using a MiFi

    * If you use one of the 50+ most popular cameras, from the top 7 OEM's -- you don't need to change any settings. The cameras are Eye-Fi Connected, and will power off when the uploads are done. They'll even show you a nice interface in the camera, of what's transferred, and what has not.

    http://www.eye.fi/how-it-works/camera-compatibility?postTabs=1

    * The photos DO NOT go to our servers, and then back down, IF your computer and your camera are on the same network. The photos will go straight from the card to your computer, quickly.

    Thx --

    Ziv.

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  2. Ziv,

    Thanks for your clarification. I tested the WiFi about six months ago with both my Canon T1i Rebel, Sanyo HD10000 and Sony PowerShot. None of them appeared to have the power-off feature (maybe it was an earlier model), nor to upload quickly, either with my Linksys router or my Cradlepoint (it would take 30 mins for 10 photos).

    I spent many hours with Eye-Fi support trying to diagnose the problem, and their response was what I posted, that the photos were uploaded to the WiFi servers. If that's not the case, thanks for clarifying, but we still never resolved the speed issue.

    I like the concept and would be happy to take another look at it if you have a unit available for testing and are willing to help me diagnose any issues - maybe the firmware / hardware has evolved.

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