11:21 PM

Eye-Fi - Explore Video Card Review

Posted by Skye |

The Eye-Fi memory card touted as the world's first wireless SD memory card which allows the user to upload photos and video from a digital camera and *poof* they are transmitted to your computer or online photo sharing service.

Sounds dishy, no?

An SD card using Wi-Fi hotspots to transmit photos and videos to an online sharing source - I swear the angels begin to sing! I've been on the lookout for such a device, I do quite a bit of citizen reporting and the ability to report from the scene or rapidly thereafter is key. Lugging around a laptop, air card and the assorted connectors, in addition to my camera and video gear, can make things difficult at times. Having the ability to shoot stills and video from one camera while automatically uploading them online is precisely what I've been looking for lately.

I went online and scooped up the Eye-Fi Explore 4 GB SDHC, which according to the manufacturer can:

Effortlessly upload and share your photos and videos from over 10,000 Wi-Fi HotSpots with the 4GB Eye-Fi Explore Video card. Get a lifetime of automatic geotagging so you can easily find and organize your memories later. And like the Eye-Fi Share Video, it can also use your home Wi-Fi to upload photos and videos to your computer or to one of over 25 popular websites.
There are certain cameras that can work with this card. I will tell you from personal experience, the Nikon CoolPix P2 ain't one of them. Much to my relief, the Canon PowerShot SD780 IS is compatible with the SD card. The website provides a helpful list of compatible cameras for you to peruse before purchasing the card.

That being said, I've noticed some serious quirks of this technology:

The card geotags every single photo, however, I've noticed a considerable number of photos taken elsewhere were being tagged as if they were taken at my home. Looking into this issue, it seems that the card triangulates wi-fi networks to figure out the location to tag the photo. For example, if you take a picture in Philly's Love Park then turn off the camera until you arrive home, the location of the picture will be derived by the wi -fi networks surrounding your home, not Love Park. Not good at all, especially since this information can be displayed online along with the photo. Quite frankly, I'd love for my followers to visit Love Park, and not my house.

I've yet to successfully transmit photos or video from a remote location. The fine details requires you to use a Wayport Wi-Fi Hotspot. There are more than 10.000 of these hotspots across the nation - not necessarily where you happen to be taking photos or video.

I've had great success in transmitting the photos when the camera is sitting on my desk at home. One caveat - the camera must remain on in order to transfer all your photos; that means you can't walk away from the camera allowing it to power down during the transfer. Video transfer takes far longer than your standard photos. In some instances, it has taken days for the video to appear online.

There is limited control regarding photos you chose not to upload, it entails you reviewing the photos and selecting the protect feature. If not, it will upload every single photo and video you have taken. For Ken Rockwell this is not a problem since space and time bend for him when he takes a photograph. For the rest of us mere mortals, it may be prudent to access the online site sooner rather than later to organize and begin post processing the images.

Overall, this is a nifty piece of technology, but its technological promise does not meet reality for me. I would strongly caution against purchasing this SD card. In the meantime, I'll keep my eye out for improvements in this technology.

I have to commend the quick response by Eye-Fi to my issues with this product:

On Wednesday of last week Eye-Fi launched a product that addresses many of your needs. The Pro offers selective upload and peer-to-peer networking so you can use wifi enabled products (such as cell phone or laptop) to upload photos away from your home computer. Many are turning to mifi as an alternative as well. The issue of geo-tagging is simple, just don't shut down the camera the instant you take a picture. I have never heard of this happening and not experienced it myself. It is a simple process to extend the time required before your camera goes to sleep so that issue is easily rectified as well. If you work within the capabilities of the card you'll find that it is a product that is indeed ready for primetime.

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