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!