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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Eye-Fi Connect X2 Review

If there is one killer feature I would like in a digital camera, it would be the ability to share photos and videos via WiFi. Normally, features found on digital cameras find their way to camera phones. But in this case, it is the other way around. One of the reasons why people prefer taking photos with their phones is because it is easier to share them. No need to go through the hassle of plugging your camera to your computer. While there are some cameras with WiFi, they are very few and usually limited to just point and shoot models. The makers of Eye-Fi card came out with a great concept. Why not incorporate this WiFi technology into an SD card so that you can use it with any camera? Sounds perfect, right?

I have been using my Eye-Fi card for a several months now. Prices range from about $40-$80 depending on capacity, I have the 4GB X2. My expectations for my new toy was pretty high, especially when imagining being able to just share my photos like I do on my iPhone. After using it for just a few hours, I realized that it is totally different in terms of everyday usability. First of all, you have to first set it up on your computer which involves setting up an account, figuring out which features you want to use like “Endless Memory”, “Online Sharing”, etc. However, I believe the average user will use the “Direct Mode” the most. Direct mode works by using it with a Mac, PC, iOS or Android device. There is a free app which you need to install in order for it to work. It seemed simple enough and after going through the setup process I was able to transfer photos from my camera to my iPad.  The Eye-Fi card will only transfer the photos that have been marked protected. Once it is transferred to your device you can do the usual share options like email, facebook, twitter, etc. Eye-Fi has a list of supported cameras, but in theory it should work with any camera that uses and SD card slot. Luckily, my Sony TX55 is supported and has the ability to turn ON /OFF the card’s WiFi signal. This is important because I noticed that leaving it on drains the battery faster.

After reading the first two paragraphs, you might have ordered one already. But wait, everything is not all good. First of all, the card’s WiFi is intermittent, meaning it sometimes works, and sometimes it doesn’t. For some strange reason, no matter what I do I can’t get it to connect with my iPad or iPhone. However, there I times, I just turn on my camera and my iPad and it works perfectly. For the life of me I can’t figure what I did differently. This is so frustrating because it doesn’t work when I need it the most (Murphy’s Law I guess). It’s possible that it could be a problem with my camera or I got a lemon Eye-Fi card.

Secondly, it only takes about two to three steps to share a photo on your phone, compared to the six to eight steps using your camera and Eye-Fi card. In fact it is simply faster and cheaper to just buy a card reader for your PC or iPad and connect it to your device.
I don’t think I can really recommend this device. While it may seem perfect on paper, the practicality of everyday use is just too tedious. I realized why it is so much easier to share or transfer photos from a phone. It’s because the functionality is built into the OS, while the Eye-Fi needs to find a way to do that on its own. While this features might appeal to some professional or enthusiast photographers, for the rest of us, it’s just not there yet. Perhaps if Eye-Fi can somehow work with camera manufactures to incorporate more functionality into the camera’s firmware, then maybe that would help. Like I mentioned, my problems could be just an isolated case, however if you search the web there are lots of people having compatibility problems with their cards. Just something to think about should you decide to buy one.

The Good:

-Works well (when it works)
- Class 6 SD card
- Lots of features like Endless memory, Online Sharing , etc.

The Bad:

- Intermittent performance
- Price
- Lots of steps just to transfer a photo
- Shortens battery life of your camera

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