One of the features that has been appearing on new camera models with increased frequency is built-in Wi-Fi functionality. Wireless capabilities on the camera allows users to sync with their computer and upload images to Flickr, Facebook or other photo sharing services without ever using a cable. It is incredibly convenient and fun, particularly for travelers who may want to share photos from their adventures while on the road. But did you know that you could add Wi-Fi capabilities to any camera? The Eye-Fi series of memory cards can actually turn even your old digital shooter into a high-tech, wireless wonder, giving you the same capabilities as newer cameras without forking out a lot of money for a new device.
We first took a look at the Eye-Fi two years ago when the cards were still relatively new. Much has changed since then as technology has continued to evolve, but a lot has also stayed the same. At the time we were impressed with how easy the Eye-Fi was to set up and use, and once configured it worked as advertised, automatically uploading photos, geotagging locations and sharing images on Facebook and other sites. I’m happy to say all of that has remained the same and the memory card is still a breeze to get working. The included Eye-Fi Center software takes all of the guesswork out of configuring the card and you’ll have Wi-Fi working on your camera in a matter of minutes. It’s so easy in fact that you’ll probably be surprised at how simple it is.
Since that initial review, the Eye-Fi memory card has learned a few new tricks that make it an even better travel companion. For example, new apps for both iOS and Android devices makes it possible for your camera to wirelessly transfer images to your iPhone, iPad or other tablet. This is great for photographers in the field as it allows them to back up their images to another device or clear space off the card by transferring the files. By utilizing the Eye-Fi in this way, a relatively small 4 or 8GB memory card can be used to take a lot more photos than its size would imply.Transferring the files is quick and easy, and it is great to review your shots from throughout the day on a much larger screen. The images are added to your device’s main photo app, which means they are available system wide. That makes it a breeze to share them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or just about any other social network. It also means that if you use an app like iPhoto or Photoshop Express you’ll be able to edit your shots on the go. That is something professional photographers will absolutely love and amateur shutterbugs will appreciate too.
Syncing with other devices isn’t the only new feature for the Eye-Fi. Since we first took a look at the tiny device a few years back, it has also gained the ability to sync to the cloud. That means that when connected to a wireless network the images are also automatically backed up to the Eye-Fi website and can be accessed there for up to seven days. An Eye-Fi premium account, which costs $50 per year, gives users unlimited access beyond that initial week, but even if you simply use the free account, it’s good to know that you have a “just in case” backup, even if it is for a limited time.
The Eye-Fi card line-up has been simplified and made more affordable over the past two years as well. There are now just three options to choose from with the entry-level “Connect X2″ model offering 4GB of storage while the “Mobile X2″ has 8GB. Those cards cost $39.99 and $79.99 respectively. The “Pro X2″ model also has 8GB of memory but includes the ability to geotag images and upload professional level RAW files, a format that most amateur photographers don’t use. It carries a price tag of $99.99.
If you find you love your current camera but wish it had the ability to share images more easily, then the Eye-Fi is definitely a great option. Not only do each of the models provide plenty of storage, but they also add Wi-Fi capabilities to any device. Considering how much we enjoy sharing our photos these days, I think that is functionality that a lot of travelers will be interested in. The Eye-Fi was already simple to configure and worked great; Android and iOS compatibility is simply icing on the cake – icing that gadget-loving travelers will certainly benefit from.