Thursday, October 28, 2010

Eye-Fi Adds a View for Web Access

Eye-Fi View provides Web-based access to recent uploads: Eye-Fi is a long-time favorite product of mine. The company scrunched a Wi-Fi radio, computer, and storage into a Secure Digital (SD) card, and has regularly updated capabilities. The current line-up, X2, has 802.11n, endless memory (auto-delete threshold after confirmed uploads), and other features. I use mine constantly; I haven't had to plug my camera or its card into a computer in months. (Eye-Fi cards are available at significant discounts off the retail price at

Eye-Fi Adds a View for Web Access

The latest update for X2 users is to Eye-Fi View, a Web site for viewing your recent uploads from anywhere that's tied in with the company's sync and management software Eye-Fi Central. (That software itself is a great update from the previous tool that used a Web browser, and was functional but clunky.) Eye-Fi View allows access to your images and videos at up to their full resolution to anyone to whom you send a private URL.

The service retains the last seven days of uploads at no cost. For $5/mo or $50/yr, you can upgrade to Eye-Fi Premium, which allows unlimited storage with no expiration of links or photos and videos. Eye-Fi View isn't enabled by default, otherwise you'd be uploading your pictorial evidence to Eye-Fi's servers without your consent—a bad idea, regardless of whether the photos and videos remain private or not. Eye-Fi View uploads to Eye-Fi Center, a Web site with the same name as the firm's computer software.

What does Eye-Fi bring to the table that Flickr Pro (at $25/yr) does not? Flickr Pro offer unlimited uploads and storage at full resolution for both images and videos. Flickr allows private sharing to groups you define (friends, family, or private groups you create). The public side of Flickr allows wide access to the rest of the net. I've had some of my images viewed thousands of times, which is gratifying.

However, sharing photos privately is a pain on Flickr if the group isn't identical each time. This is the same problem on many other sharing services, too, that assume either you want everyone to see pictures, or a group that's well defined and remains constant over time.

Eye-Fi View/Central are organized around simplicity (one control panel that automatically uploads), privacy, and changing members of the groups you want to share with. I'm not sure that's worth the $25/yr premium, but the market will decide that.

One advantage of Eye-Fi is that you can set this up for a friend or family member who doesn't want to have to hassle with photo transfers and such. The latest version can be configured to connect to a home's Wi-Fi network, and with endless memory, computer syncing, and Eye-Fi View, there's no management involved. (I've recently heard from several friends that their older parents have broadband for when their grown-up children visit! They rarely use it themselvs.)

Also announced today was an upgrade to allow Pro/Pro X2 owners to upload Raw format image files to an FTP server, which I'm sure photographers who work from that unprocessed style will find makes the Eye-Fi substantially more useful if FTP is part of their workflow.

And the online sharing and geotagging upgrades that can be added to less expensive models of Eye-Fi now can be purchased within Eye-Fi Center (the software not the Web site), and with lifetime prices of $20 for sharing and $30 for geotagging.

Google Restarts Street View without Wi-Fi Scanning