Gadling Gear Review: Eye-Fi Mobile X2 Wireless Memory Card

The Eye-Fi SD memory card adds wifi features to any cameraOne 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.

The Eye-Fi memory cardSyncing 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.


American Airlines launches Android mobile app

American Airlines Android AppLast night, American Airlines launched their first Android mobile app. Like most other airline apps, this one is a real one-stop-shopping stop for everything AA.

Inside the app, you’ll find your reservations, mobile boarding pass, flight schedules, flight status and a special version of AA Sudoku. Yeah, we’re not entirely sure what Sudoku is doing there, but it is a nice bonus.

Hidden under the “more options” button are 11 other handy flight features – terminal maps for six hubs, Admirals Club pass purchase link, trip locator, phone and web links and more.

The app is well designed, and (so far) without any bugs or other issues.

You’ll find this (free) app in the Android Market on your phone, or in the web based Market. A similar app has been available for the iPhone for some time now, and is available in the App Store.

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Colorado ski resorts prepare for ski season, introduce social networking to slopes

Skiers and snowboarders who have been eagerly waiting for the Colorado ski season to begin, had their patience rewarded last week when Keystone Resort opened to the public for the first time this year. They’ll soon be joined by Breckenridge, which fires up the lifts tomorrow, followed by Vail and Heavenly, who kick off the season on the 19th, with Beaver Creek finally joining in on the fun on the 24th of the month.

It may still be early November, but the snow has already been flying on the mountains, with several of the resorts receiving in excess of 7″-8″ of snow in the past few days alone. That means that skiers can already expect a good base of powder when the gates open over the next few weeks, and considering these resorts average 300+ inches of snow per year, you can bet that the season ahead will be a good one.

Fantastic lodges and beautiful powder aren’t the only thing these resorts have up their sleeves this year however. They’ve also managed to bring their lift tickets into the 21st century by incorporating an RFID chip right in the passes themselves. That technology opens up a host of new opportunities for visitors in what can only be described as an Epic Mix.

Epic Mix is a unique blend of outdoor fun, social networking, and technology that comes together in an online environment or on a mobile app for the iPhone and Android devices. As you spend the day going up and down the mountain, making great run after great run, the RFID chip is busy keeping track of how far you’ve skied, how many vertical feet you’ve dropped, and so on. It then allows you to share that information online at the Epic Mix website, as well as on Facebook and Twitter. You can even earn special Epic Mix achievements for completing certain goals or attending specific events. Those achievements can be shared with friends and family in the form of badges that can be prominently displayed on your Epic Mix or Facebook page. Examples of some of these achievements are the Snow Turkey, which is awarded for visiting a resort on Thanksgiving Day or the Three’s Company badge for skiing more than 3000 vertical feet in a single season.

As of this writing, the Epic Mix mobile apps are not available yet, but the website promises that they’ll arrive “by Christmas.” Android and iPhone users will find plenty to love in these applications, as they’ll not only allow you to access your Epic Mix account while on the go, they’ll also show you exactly where your friends are on the mountain at any given time, and allow you to message one another to set up when and where to meet. The apps will also give you real time weather and snow reports, traffic updates, and information on the conditions of your favorite run.

For more information on what Epic Mix can do, check out the video below and be prepared to have an even more social experience on the slopes in Colorado this season.

[Photo credit: Breckenridge Lodge]