Card downloads your memories before you forget

Apr 22, 2009 By Eric Benderoff

If you tend to forget or neglect to move photo treasures from your digital camera to your computer, an Eye-Fi card should interest you. This clever photo memory card handles that meddlesome task for you -- and now it does the same for video too.

I gave the first Eye-Fi card a positive review when it arrived in 2007. The latest iteration of the card, available now, offers several improvements.

If you're not familiar with the product, an Eye-Fi card turns any that uses SD memory into a Wi-Fi device. The Wi-Fi technology is built into the Eye-Fi card, which is offered in only the SD format. Most digital cameras use SD memory.

The card can download photos and videos directly into your computer and to a photo- or video-sharing Web site. No cables are required, but the camera needs to be in a Wi-Fi zone.

There are four versions of the Eye-Fi card, ranging from $50 to $100 and in size from 2 gigabytes to 4GB. Not all offer the video feature. They are available from several retailers and at www.eye.fi .

I tested the Eye-Fi Explore Video card and like it quite a bit. At $99, the Explore is $20 more than the 4GB Share video card because it has two neat features for travelers: geotagging and uploading from public Wi-Fi hot spots.

Geotags pinpoint where a picture was taken. After I downloaded photos of my kids onto my computer, a map popped up that identified the playground where I took the photos.

That's cool, but some users may fret about privacy and safety if images are uploaded to a public Web site. The feature can be disabled.

I used the card on two computers, a Windows-based PC at my brother-in-law's house in Michigan and a Mac in my Chicago home.

I didn't have much time to spend on the setup on the PC, because we were rushing to get to a family event. I made changes later.

The Eye-Fi comes with a card reader that has a plug on one end and a slot for the SD card on the other. The reader includes software needed for managing the card, and it establishes the connection between the Eye-Fi card and a wireless home network. You need to use the card reader only once, for initial setup.

When the Eye-Fi Manager opens, you can choose among several settings, such as sending your photos to sites such as Facebook, Flickr or Photobucket. You also can choose a destination for videos, such as YouTube.

Photos easily downloaded into my brother-in-law's computer, transferring nearly instantly after they were taken in the house. (Transfers were slower in my house, where the Wi-Fi network isn't as robust.)

At the family event, I took several more photos and videos. When I got back to his house, I turned the camera on to send the content, flawlessly, to the PC.

The setup on my Mac wasn't as smooth, but it worked after some fiddling.

I reinserted the card reader into the Mac so the Eye-Fi card would recognize my home network. That went fine, but I couldn't get the card to send photos directly into iPhoto, the photo-sharing software on Apple computers. It worked when I directed the photos to go into a generic photo folder.

(I used an older version of iPhoto. An Eye-Fi spokeswoman said the card works with iPhoto 08 and 09. The Eye.Fi offers more guidance.)

The photos went to my Shutterfly account without trouble. When the upload was complete, I received an e-mail. E-mail notification confirms completion, which then allows you to send a note to friends to check out your new photos.

I also uploaded several videos to my computer and one to YouTube. With the YouTube video, I shot it in the kitchen and by the time I returned to the room with my laptop, the upload had started. Very cool.

At $100, you're paying a premium for a product -- the SD memory card -- that has become a commodity and can be bought for $10.

Yet the Eye-Fi card opens a world of new photo options. If nothing else, you won't forget to take your memories off the camera anymore.

___

(c) 2009, Chicago Tribune.
Visit the Chicago Tribune on the Internet at www.chicagotribune.com/
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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