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August 13, 2008

Eye-Fi Update


Tired of straining to view photos on his digital camera's tiny LCD screens and sick of losing spontaneously snapped cell-phone pictures to cell phones gone by, Alex C. Pasquariello examines the wireless ways to upload images to his computer and the Web.

Eye-Fi update!

The Eye-Fi, as you recall, is a SD Card that turns your digital camera into a wireless device, allowing you to upload your photos to a Windows or Mac OSX computer. The Explore model will also put your memories in the cloud, uploading them to whatever photo sharing site you use via pre-configured Wi-Fi or more than 10,000 Wayport hotspots nationwide.

Today the company announced a partnership with giving members of the photo-sharing site one year of free Wayport hotspot access--even if you're using one of Eye-Fi's old cards or opted for the Home or Share cards that previously didn't have Wayport access.

How could this be? Well, it turns out that all levels of the Eye-Fi SD Cards feature the same technology (small Wi-Fi antennas) and therefore have the same capabilities. The Wayport access and geotagging features are authorized on the backend to those who paid for the Explore card through the Eye-Fi's Web page and its desktop photo manager software that you set up on your computer.

Now--if you use SmugMug, at least--geotagging and Wayport Wi-Fi access is free for all. Of course, a SmugMug membership will run you $40 a year. I personally haven't had a chance to give SmugMug and test run with my pics, but the reviews are good.

Now a word on the Wayport access: In my initial reviews of the Eye-Fi card, I took a jaunt through Philly and found that the Wayport Wi-Fi hotspots there were mostly in McDonalds, an eatery I'm trying to avoid due my Big Mac addiction. So my review found little use for this feature.

However, last weekend I was traipsing through Denver and rented a car through Hertz, a Wayport partner. When I returned the car at the airport I noticed a Wayport sign in the lobby and pulled out my digital camera (which still had the Eye-Fi Explore card plugged in), turned it on, and my weekend adventures began uploading to my personal Flickr page.

How do I know? Because I got a text message for every photo that was uploaded while I waited inline to return the rental car. I'm not going to link to those pics since they're personal, but rest assured that they loaded quickly and without a hitch. While in Denver, I was actually carrying two cameras--my personal camera with the Eye-Fi card and a Nikon Coolpix S52c with built in Wi-Fi. Log on Friday for my review of the S52c and it's wireless uploading capabilities, including my shots from the Mile High City.

In the meantime, I'm interested to know if anybody's beyond the venerable Walt Mossberg --has used SmugMug? What are the reviews? Is it worth $40 a year?


In addition to Wayport Hotspots, the Eye-Fi Explore card can make use of any open non-Wayport hotspot that does not have a login screen.

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