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Wow, this was a gadget that I was really looking forward to.  But, then again, there are a lot of gadgets that I get and they end up in the great gadget hall of shame (ie. a box in the closet before they move on to the wonderful world of recycling).  The gadget that I am referring to is the Eye-Fi wireless SD card.

The Eye-Fi appealed to me for a few reasons:

1) I am lazy and hate taking the SD card out of my camera to upload images

2) I don’t feel like carrying a laptop when I’ m on holiday (yeah yeah, I always still do) and the thought of being able to upload wirelessly from anywhere seemed pretty amazing

3) The geo-tagging sounded pretty darned cool

So what’s the reality?

Well, first off there isn’t much we can say about product design with an SD card.  It is orange.  Not terribly exciting.

The Eye-Fi comes with a USB adapter and the only way to update your settings is by removing the SD card from your camera and inserting it into your laptop.  I realise, in hindsight, that this makes some amount of sense, but in practise, it is one of the points of the process that I had hoped to avoid.

The other – and quite possibly most annoying non-feature of the Eye-Fi – is the inability to connect to a wifi hotspot (apart from their free Wayport hotspots that sit in McD’s and Hertz rental agencies – riiiiight).  The #1 place / reason that I use my camera is for travel.  Therefore, it seems a bit lame that there is no way to work around this issue.  FYI, even my Blackberry can work around a terms and conditions page on a hotspot.

The other most annoying lack of feature is that the card should detect an unsecured wifi connection and attempt an upload (if I tell it in my settings that I am OK with transmitting this data over a free connection).  This feature would be awesome because then I could wander anywhere and my camera would be smarter than me and my pictures would just start uploading in the background.  Obviously not the case with the Eye-Fi.  Every connection needs to be pre-configured which means that I need to still carry my laptop AND the dongle to configure connections. 

Finally, I am a bit annoyed that instead of updating their firmware to support video uploads, the fine folks at Eye-Fi had to release a whole new video specific card that uploads to Flickr and Youtube.  The week after I bought my card.  For the same price as the new 4 GB card. Not that it matters because it wouldn’t work unless I was sitting at home taking pictures of my desk or hanging out in a McDonalds as witnessed by the rest of the Eye-Fi photos on Flickr.

Verdict?

I’m so over your, Eye-Fi.  Good concept.  Bad execution.  Don’t waste your money, folks.

What else might work in this day and age? (aka random thoughts)

  • SD with GPRS or 3G connection with auto upload to network. However, this would be costly when travelling.
  • Detect open wifi and connect automatically.
  • Bluetooth that can use internet connection from laptop.
  • MMS.  OK, just checking to see if you were even still interested in this crap post…

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