Test-Driving the Eye-Fi Explore

Eye-Fi

I’ve been interested in these little gizmos for some time now. The Eye-Fi Explore is an SD card that will automagically upload your photos to your online photo service of choice whenever it comes within range of an open wireless network. Not only that, it uses some strange alchemy to geotag your photos each time you click the shutter. It sounded like the perfect photographic tool, but also the promises seemed too good to be true. I was hesitant to make the investment until I saw that Woot.com had one for a dirt-cheap price. I decided to give it a shot. I found it both to be about as amazing as I expected, and about as frustrating as I imagined.

Eye-FiThe Eye-Fi comes with the SD card (2 GB in my case, but available up to 8 GB) and a USB card reader, as shown above. The management software comes on the card itself, and automatically launches when the device is first plugged into the computer. The first thing I discovered is that you must have wireless access to configure the device. Just being connected to a computer with Internet access isn’t enough.

There are lots of parameters that can be set with the device. You can choose your photo hosting service (Flickr, in my case) and even set up separate routing for videos, so your photos may go to Flickr, but your videos to YouTube. You can set the device to connect and upload automatically to any wifi hotspot, or only when it comes within range of specified hotspots. I always like to edit my photos before they go public, so I set the privacy settings so that I would be the only one to see them on Flickr. You can also enable/disable geotagging.

Eye-Fi-Screen-Two

The most amazing thing is that this device actually works. I tried it in both my Fuji WP33 and my Nikon S70. It took photos, and when I turned the camera on in the presence of a wireless network, it uploaded the photos to my Flickr account without any interaction from me.

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