Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Eye-Fi Overhauls Wi-Fi Camera Cards with X2

On the heels of shipping its Eye-Fi Pro X2 cards, Eye-Fi has revamped its main product line: The X2 technology is now embedded in all its current product line, which has been simplified to three products, all of which offer more features and capacities at lower prices than the previous product line-up. The company has also expanded its hotspot deal to cover all 20,000+ AT&T locations (starting 31 March 2010).

The Connect X2 ($49.99) is a 4 GB SDHD card that uploads JPEGs and videos to a computer and one of 25 photo-sharing and social-media sites with which Eye-Fi has partnered.

The Explore X2 ($99.99) stores 8 GB of images and videos, and adds eternal Wi-Fi–based geotagging (via Skyhook Wireless), and one year of hotspot uploading.

The Pro X2 ($149.99) announced earlier this year has all the Explore features, plus RAW photo format upload support and ad-hoc Wi-Fi connection capability (to transfer images to a laptop without an access point around).

Eye-Fi continues to sell the Eye-Fi Geo ($59.95) exclusively via Apple. It has 2 GB of storage.

Hotspot service can be purchased separately for the Connect X2 for $14.99 per year (as well as for older models that Eye-Fi will continue to support), as well as renewed in the future for the Explore X2 and Pro X2.

All three models support 802.11b/g/n, Class 6 data transfer rates over USB (48 Mbps), and feature what Eye-Fi calls Endless Memory. When a card starts to approach capacity, whether it's connected to the Internet or a local network or not, it deletes the oldest items that have been confirmed as delivered to a computer.

As I have written many times before, there's nothing quite like the Eye-Fi. None of the built-in Wi-Fi support on any camera comes close to what Eye-Fi offers. Several camera makers have enabled special support for the Eye-Fi in specific models--Canon and Casio have a fairly large list. This support is mostly remaining powered up until all images are transferred, although some models have additional features such as an onscreen activity indicator.

This refresh to the product line makes the Eye-Fi a better deal again by boosting capacity and features, offering a great entry-level price, and making it simpler to decide among models.

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