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Monday May 10, 2010 4:09 pm

Eye-Fi Connect X2 review

Eye-Fi Connect X2 reviewWe’ve talked about our love of the line of flash memory cards in the past, and their latest X2 line has just recently hit stores with a bunch of new features. We were able to spend a bit of time with their entry-level device, the Connect X2, to get a look at what their most basic X2 branded model can do. As it turns out, it’s a great card that can do a heck of a lot. Read on to find out how a memory card with built-in WI-Fi can change the way take and share your digital photos.

First, let’s cover the basics. The Eye-Fi Connect X2 is a 4GB SDHC Class 6 flash memory card with Wi-Fi built-in. If you are unfamiliar with Eye-Fi, the whole magic here is in the Wi-Fi, as it opens up possibilities that you just don’t get with other SD cards. The Connect X2 can automatically upload your images and videos to your computer, either to a folder or directly into your image storage program like iPhoto and Picasa. In addition, it can also upload that content to one of more than 25 sites online—places like Flickr, Facebook, YouTube, Picasa, MySpace, and the like.

Now, Eye-Fi has been around for a few years now, so let’s cover what their whole X2 product line brings to the table, that their other cards in the past did not. First, as we mentioned, the card sports Class 6 speeds, which is an across the board X2 feature. They also have built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi, so you get the fastest transfer speeds possible. Lastly, and our favorite feature by far, is that they introduce something that Eye-Fi is calling “Endless Memory Mode.”

With the Endless Memory Mode, you are in the unique situation of never having to manually delete content from your card. Basically, you can set a threshold, a pre-determined amount of space used on the card, where it will start purging content that has already been safely synced wirelessly to your computer or social networks. So, for example, you can say that once the card hits 3GB used, start getting rid of any content that we know is already safe at home on my computer. No need to think about it, wondering if you really did sync recently—the card takes care of all of that for you, so you can just be out and about snapping new photos as it creates more space for you to do so. Very smart.

All of these features work very well together, and the only thing you really need to worry about the first time is getting git all set up. The most difficult part from our perspective is getting your specific camera model set up to take advantage of the automatic uploading. Since the camera needs to be on, and not in standby mode, Eye-Fi offers a guide on getting you set up with just about any camera you own. The only real “difficulty” is navigating through the sometimes confusing menus on modern digital cameras, but Eye-Fi even guides you through that as well. Once you have your camera power management preferences set, then you are game.

So the thing about the Eye-Fi Connect X2 that we want to focus on is that it’s the entry-level X2 card. We can’t really review it as a storage device, because that makes it like every other SD card out there. What we are really talking about here are the features afforded to this card by way of having Wi-Fi built right in. The Eye-Fi Connect X2 costs just $47 on Amazon, and we think that it’s a tremendous value for what you get. However, there are two other cards in the X2 line that you should know about before you spend your money.

First, the Eye-Fi Explore X2. The differences here is that this card has twice the storage space at 8GB, and also supports geotagging and hotspot access out of the box. This means that the Explore X2 will mark each image taken with GPS data, so that apps like iPhoto can take advantage of it for use in things like the Places feature. Hotspot access lets you use public WiFi hotspots to upload your images back to your home computer and social networks while you are on the go. Both of these are very handy. The Explore X2 costs $79 on Amazon.

Secondly, the top of the line X2 card—the Pro X2. This is pretty much the same card as the Explore X2, except it adds in RAW image support, and ad hoc transfers. So if shooting in RAW format is your thing, the Pro X2 is your only option in the Eye-Fi line, and same goes for wirelessly transferring your images from your camera to your computer with no Wi-Fi network present. The Eye-Fi Pro X2 costs $149 on Amazon.

Back to the Connect X2—is it worth it? In all honesty, we’ve found that even the basic X2 card is a fantastic deal when you consider how often digital photos just get left on a memory card, for months on end, just because we are too lazy to plug it in and sync. Even then, the number of images you want to share with friends and end up not doing because you forget? Those images can now be sent directly to your favorite photo sharing sites. Lastly, that Endless Memory Mode is killer. We never want to be without it again.

If you don’t need geotagging (or if you already have it built-in to your camera) or hotspot access, the Connect X2 is for you. Even then, if you find that you are going on a trip and may want one or both of those, you can just add them to your Eye-Fi account for a small fee, and then use it as you need it, essentially turning your Connect X2 into a lower capacity Explore X2. We like how flexible Eye-Fi is about all this—very customer oriented, and the product rocks.

You can pick up an Eye-Fi Connect X2 at Amazon for $47.99.

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