Total Frustration with Eye-Fi Card
Rarely have I been so frustrated with a piece of technology, particularly with one that is supposed to make things easier on me. I had the opportunity to borrow an Eye-Fi Pro X2 8GB SDHC +Wi-Fi card for my camera, and boy am I glad I am not out the $150 it would have cost me to buy one of these.
The Eye-Fi series of SD cards for digital cameras lets you transfer photos wirelessly from your camera to your home computer or one of several online photo services all while leaving the memory card in your camera. This sounds like such a neat idea. I was really excited to get to try it out. Imagine taking a bunch of pictures and then going to your computer to find that the pictures are already waiting for you there. Yeah, keep imagining.
- Compatible with almost any camera
- Transfers images wirelessly to your computer or online photo service
- Includes USB SDHC card reader
- Compatible with Windows and Mac OS X
- Software is easily confused
- No way to know when it’s safe to turn off the camera
- No way to know how many images were transferred to your computer
- Still requires plugging SD card into computer to ensure all images are transferred
- Duplicate images get imported into iPhoto
The Bottom Line
Technically the Eye-Fi technology works (minus some bugs), but as a whole the system fails and left me extremely frustrated. Even when images really do transfer automatically from the camera (and that’s no guarantee), there is no way to know how many images have been transferred before you turn off your camera. In the end you still have to plug in the SD card to your computer to ensure all images have been transferred, and then, rubbing salt in the wound, all of the images are imported without duplicates being detected (iPhoto’s fault as well). If you have a camera that has special firmware supporting the Eye-Fi cards and continues providing power to the card until all images are transferred after you turn off the camera, then that would alleviate some of the problems. Otherwise it only brings a false promise of making your life easier.
Ease of Use: (2/5)
Installation software for the Eye-Fi cards is included conveniently on the SD card itself, but to ensure I had the latest software, I downloaded the installation software from the website. Here is the equipment involved in my process:
- Eye-Fi Pro X2 8GB SDHC +Wi-Fi (comes with USB SD card reader)
- Canon Rebel XSi (firmware v1.1.0 in accordance with tech note)
- 24″ iMac with Mac OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.5 (current on updates)
After the software was installed, it ran automatically and began the configuration process. It identified my home network, and after I typed in the WPA password, the software failed to configure the card, or so it said. I removed and reinserted the card several times, and it failed to recognize the card (this behavior would continue long after installation). After restarting the Eye-Fi Center software, the configuration was complete.
During this process, and many times afterward, I continued to get the “disk was not ejected properly” message. I was not able to determine why this kept happening.
This error occurred repeatedly during use.
Failure to Function
I tried snapping some sample pictures and was disappointed to see nothing appearing on my computer. After a few more pictures the first ones started to upload. When I turned off the camera, the confusion began. The Eye-Fi Center software was still expecting some images and didn’t seem to understand that it was not going to be getting them. I plugged the Eye-Fi card directly into my computer, and that just made things worse. After much fiddling I was left with several “ghost images” in the Eye-Fi Center software that refused to go away. When I clicked “Remove this item from Eye-Fi” the image disappeared temporarily and then returned. Days later they are still haunting me in their various forms of partial transference to their next life.
Even If It Worked Properly
Some of these issues can be attributed to various bugs that may be resolved in the future, but even if the technology worked perfectly, there are still problems with the system as a whole that make the Eye-Fi card one of the most disappointing I-was-really-hoping-it-was-going-to-be-great technologies I have encountered. In defense of Eye-Fi when we start talking about systems, not everything is in their control, so I would not say I “blame” Eye-Fi for these problems, but the fact remains: at the end of the day, the Eye-Fi card does not make my life easier.
The first system problem (and one that Eye-Fi has no control over) is that there is no way to know, as you take pictures, which pictures have been successfully transferred to your computer or online service. Without any confirmation, you still have to plug the SD card into your computer to ensure you get all of your pictures. I suppose that in the case where you only took a handful of pictures, you could probably see for yourself whether or not all the pictures were transferred.
Assuming some or all of the pictures were transferred wirelessly, you now have to delete the pictures manually from the camera. Most cameras fortunately have some kind of Delete All command.
You could increase your odds of having all the pictures uploaded by leaving your camera powered on but for how long? There is no way to know, and it certainly does not help your camera’s battery life. Some camera’s are now beginning to support Eye-Fi cards natively (big Hoorah! there), and some of these will keep the card powered even after you turn off the camera. Hopefully these cameras have a way of knowing when the card is done so that they can then shut off power.
Since you have to plug in the SD card anyway to ensure all your photos are transferred, it does not help that iPhoto fails to recognize that some of the images are duplicates, and so that creates extra work having to delete the duplicates manually. Whose fault is that? Well, apparently iPhoto thinks they are coming from two different sources (they are: one via the Eye-Fi software and one via an SD card), so it is appropriate that iPhoto not assume they are duplicates. Except that they are duplicates, so perhaps iPhoto also needs to be smarter about Eye-Fi cards.
Eye-Fi is in a difficult position. For their product to be useful, they really need tighter integration with the systems that use them. Impressively you do not need your camera or photo software to be aware of Eye-Fi for it to work technically, but practically without the tighter integration, the system is fatally flawed.