One of the best little gizmos any shutterbug can buy for his or her camera is an Eye-Fi card. The Eye-Fi looks like any old SD storage card, but in reality it's much, much more. Put simply, a tiny wireless radio inside frees your camera from the hassles of the cord or from having to take the card out and plop it into your PC — leaving you then to figure out which pictures you haven't downloaded yet.
The Eye-Fi gets rid of all that, uploading your photos to your computer automatically and wirelessly whenever you snap them. If you want, it will also send them to Flickr, Facebook, or just about anywhere else.
But all of that is old news. Eye-Fi has recently been updated and now it's better than ever.
Now called the Eye-Fi Pro X2, this third major revision of the Eye-Fi hardware is its biggest update yet. Here are just some of the new features, and some comments on how well they work:
• Updating the radio to 802.11n makes uploads to your PC much faster than ever. With the original Eye-Fi hardware, your camera would often shut off before a single photo got uploaded. Now uploads are positively zippy, with next to no waiting. (That said, your camera will probably still shut off if you shoot a lot of photos between upload sessions. It took three power-on cycles to suck down all my Hawaii vacation photos.)
• 8GB of storage space leaves plenty of room for photos no matter what resolution you shoot in.
• Eye-Fi added support for video uploads in the last version of the card. Now it supports RAW files as well, if your camera supports them.
• The new Eye-Fi software is much cleaner and less buggy, and now you can sync more than one Eye-Fi card to a single computer.
• Other features give you more flexibility with your Eye-Fi card: "Endless Memory" automatically deletes shots once they are confirmed uploaded to your computer, and "Selective Transfer" lets you control which photos are uploaded instead of just grabbing everything on the card.
• Not near a hotspot? An "ad hoc" mode lets you upload pics directly from your camera to your computer without a wireless connection.
• Overall stability — the old Eye-Fi would often simply not upload files no matter how good the wireless connection was — is improved dramatically.
On the whole, I'm loving the Eye-Fi Pro X2. The extra features like video uploads are nice, but it's the blazing speed of the X2 that really makes it the best Eye-Fi product yet. $150 for the 8GB card.