Product: Eye-Fi Connect X2 Wireless SDHC Memory Card
Rating: Strong Recommend*
As our site's name implies, we're all about living with less cables and wires in our everyday digital lives. So it seems a little ridiculous it took us this long to finally give the Eye-Fi wireless SDHC memory card a try, especially since a good deal of our professional and personal life revolves around taking and uploading photos. After using and testing the Eye-Fi Connect X2 all day, we're prone to tell everyone we know with a modern digital camera to just get one…now. Here's why… Let's start off throwing a pebble of criticism. The Eye-Fi Connect X2 review unit was sent to us in a slide-out packaging that didn't start us off on the right foot; it's well organized enough, but some of the stickers/adhesives used to seal the box and to attach the flimsy paper instruction manual onto the plastic blister pack resulted in some ripped/torn areas upon removal. It's a small detail, but one that we think that matters when you've spent $50 for a thumb-sized piece of plastic and some digital components.
Inside you'll find the Eye-Fi Connect X2 SDHC already slotted inside the memory card reader. Installation requires you plug this into your computer's USB connection and the software installer will walk you through any easy to follow process. It takes a little longer than we'd like, with a firmware update and several option/account screens, but nothing surprising or confusing.
Afterward, OS X user will find an Eye-Fi Center application open and ready to customize, alongside a menu bar icon which allows for quick access to the memory card, showing the card is connected to your wireless network via a built-in 802.11n connection.
Now to the good stuff. Once you're all finished with the setup of your Eye-Fi account you can unmount the card and put it into your digital camera. At 4GB, the Eye-Fi was a notable downgrade in storage size from our 32GB SDHC card we use with our Nikon D90/D7000 setups; but since we don't usually shoot in RAW for everyday photos, the size of the card wasn't an issue. Nor does the Connect X2 transfer RAW files wirelessly; you'll have to bump up their $129 Pro X2 card for this option (in addition you do get twice the storage, hotspot access and geotagging).We spent the morning photographing high resolution JPEG files in typical fashion and with with completion of each session, a few seconds afterward, the card automatically began wirelessly transferring the images to our computer in the next room. Transfer rates are affected by distance and signal strength. When we placed the camera right next to our setup, the images uploaded almost at the speed of a USB connected setup. A pop-up thumbnail window previews images being transferred and the percentage transferred. With several walls inbetween the camera and our laptop, the transfer rate dropped to a much more lethargic, but acceptable rate.
Since we normally don't require a live transfer while shooting, normal protocol would be for us to situate the camera right next to our laptop to access/upload images. And in this setup the Eye-Fi Connect X2 just changed our digital photography workflow (well, at least until we replace this review unit with our very own). The card's wi-fi range is rated at 90' outdoors and 45' indoors, but for most consumer level use, this card will work primarily indoors and upon returning home, in close proximity to a wireless connection (but you can continue taking photos while the card is transferring files). The process does require your camera to be left on while the images are transferred; some users have reported transfer failures en route, but a recent firmware update seems to have nixed the issue and we didn't experience any problem with either small or large batch transfers. The SD card draws power from your camera, but we experienced a negligible hit on battery life.
Another notable feature built-in is something Eye-Fi calls, Endless Memory. From the software's Transfer Mode tab, users can enable this feature to delete older photos after a certain percentage of the memory card has been used. Only images/video that has already been transferred will be deleted in this process, continually deleting the oldest images and making room for your newest images/videos. There's also an option to create a Private folder to further protect any files you do not want accessed by the Endless Memory feature.
Our Nikon D7000 comes equipped with dual SD slots, which means we could conceivably upload one set of images wirelessly using the Eye-Fi while concurrently upload larger video files using the included SD card reader. Photographers who have multiple computers for both work and home will also appreciate the Eye-Fi card can store up to 32 network locations. We setup the Eye-Fi to upload directly to our Flickr account, which worked without a hitch.
It's hard not to gush about a peripheral which offers a feature you feel should already be built into every modern digital camera (just make sure to check here to insure your camera is compatible). The Eye-Fi's utility becomes immediately obvious for both everyday user and enthusiast photographer, offering the welcome ability to ditch the hassle of using a USB connection for an unplugged workflow. Now that's something we can live with.
Pros: Setup and use are elementary; look Ma, no USB cables; fast transfer rates with 802.11n connection and close proximity to computer; Flickr, Facebook, Picasa, MobileMe, and YouTube sharing options; can transfer images directly into iPhoto for OS X users.
Cons: RAW wireless transfers require upgrade to Pro X2 card; transfer speeds can slow down noticeably with interior walls and distance; instruction manual's poor quality feels like a religious tract and ripped when removed from blister pack.
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.