The Eye-Fi Pro X2 is a nifty little SDHC card with built-in Wi-Fi that supports 802.11n. This means that it's able to connect to a computer, tablet or smartphone in order to transfer photos.
The Pro X2 is the top-of-the-line model, equipped with 8GB of storage and class-6 speed. It also comes with video and RAW support. The other Eye-Fi cards work on the same principles as the Pro X2, but with lesser capacities.
It's theoretically possible to use an Eye-Fi card in any digital camera that supports the SD card format. You can check whether there are any compatibility issues or notes for a particular camera model on the Eye-Fi site. Cameras that have been branded as being Eye-Fi compatible often have menu options where you can turn the Wi-Fi on and off, as well as observe what network the card is connecting to.
The Eye-Fi comes packaged in a neat cardboard enclosure that includes an instruction manual, the card itself and a USB card reader.
To get things started, you first need to install the Eye-Fi Centre (Mac/PC) which installs from the card itself. The process is simple, and takes a few moments to update firmware on the card before it's ready to go. Then set up an Eye-Fi account from within the interface.
The Centre is how you tell the Eye-Fi card what wireless network to connect to, as well as setting up all the other options. On top of storing the images on the card and transferring them to your computer, the Centre can automatically send photos to any number of sites, like Facebook, Flickr or your own FTP server.
The main Eye-Fi Centre interface.
(Screenshot by CBSi)
In order to get the camera-to-PC/Mac wireless transfer working, you need to set the wireless network name and password (if applicable) in the Eye-Fi software. Details of up to 32 Wi-Fi networks can be added to the card.
Once the network connection has been established between camera and computer, transfer is near instantaneous. It is only a touch slower to initiate a transfer than to tether your camera to a computer with a cable.
Depending on the size of the JPEG images taken, which you can set in-camera, it will take anywhere from 10 to 60 seconds for the transfer of individual images to come across to your computer. RAW photos take quite a bit longer, and so do videos.
You can keep shooting on your camera while the images are transferring. Transfer speed depends on the proximity to your wireless router and/or the strength of the wireless connection.
On top of sending the images to a computer, the Eye-Fi card can also establish an ad hoc network with an Android or iOS device. When there are no available Wi-Fi networks to connect to — for example, if you are travelling or out and about — the card can automatically send images to your mobile device.
The Direct Mode needs to be selected in the Eye-Fi Centre, and has several options that you can tweak when the card is connected to your computer.
(Screenshot by CBSi)
There are dedicated apps available, but before setting them up, you need to enable Direct mode from within the Eye-Fi Centre software.
When connected to a smartphone or tablet, the transfer begins automatically within 20 seconds, and there's a notification once the photos have been sent across to the device.
The Pro X2 offers geotagging of images, even if your camera does not have a built-in GPS transmitter. It appends location information to images as determined by the Wi-Fi positioning service. We found it to be pretty accurate, honing in on a location within 20 metres of our location.
The Android app in action, showing the library of photos and the recent transfer from the Eye-Fi card.
(Screenshot by CBSi)
Eye-Fi also offers an online storage option called Eye-Fi View for its X2 cards, where you can store images for up to seven days, and share them privately with friends. There's also a Premium service, which offers so-called "unlimited" storage for US$4.99 per month or US$49.99 per year.
Read/write speeds to the card did not seem to be affected by the wireless transfers, which means that you can happily snap away without worrying about waiting for the card to catch up.
The Eye-Fi card is an excellent way to give wireless and sharing capabilities to cameras. It's easy to use and a reasonably affordable solution that is flexible enough to provide tethering-like results when near a computer with a router, or on the road in Direct mode with a smartphone or tablet.
Other variants of the Eye-Fi card available in Australia include the Connect X2 for AU$59.99 and the Mobile X2 for AU$99.99.