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SD card enables low-cost Wi-Fi connectivity in digicams

Posted: 02 Oct 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Wi-Fi? SD card? digital camera?

Eye-Fi offers Share, a Wi-Fi-enabled Secure Digital (SD) card that makes it easy and affordable to add Wi-Fi connectivity to any digital camera with an SD card slot. Eye-Fi's product line-up includes five Wi-Fi SD card/service combinations between $50 and $150.

Share SD card makes it easy and affordable to add Wi-Fi connectivity to any digital camera with an SD card slot. (Click on image to view teardown.)

The only marketed hardware difference is the inclusion of either 2Gbyte storage in the Home and Share versions or a 4Gbyte storage in the Share Video, Explore Video and Pro versions. Photo sharing website uploads, Wi-Fi triangulated geotagging service, free Wi-Fi hotspot uploads, and the ability to upload RAW files provide the remainder of the differentiation between the five solutions. For this teardown, we paid $60 for the 2Gbyte Share version, which includes the ability to upload pictures to photo sharing websites.

Combining Wi-Fi and a digital camera dates back to 2003 when Nikon introduced the WT-1 wireless transmitter, which attached to the bottom of a Nikon D2H DSLR. With the transmitter at a cost above $700 combined with the $3,500 Pro D2H, the benefits of bringing the two technologies together were well out of reach of the average consumer. The 2006 availability of the $350 Nikon point-and-shoot 5Mpixel P2 featuring integrated Wi-Fi enabled consumers to finally afford and realize the benefits of a wireless camera. Other camera manufacturers including Kodak, Canon, and Sony soon released their own point-and-shoot digital cameras with integrated Wi-Fi.

Spotting an opportunity to provide wireless connectivity while letting the consumer choose the camera, Eye-Fi was founded in 2005, the same year that the affordable Nikon P2 made its debut. Any camera, including high-end DSLRs, can benefit from Eye-Fi's solution as long as it has an SD card slot. Immediate Wi-Fi connectivity is not required since the embedded 2Gbyte or 4Gbyte on the card can store the images until the camera comes within range of a wireless access point.

After unwrapping the 2Gbyte Share version, the SD card was inserted into the included USB card reader and connected to a laptop PC. The Eye-Fi software comes pre-loaded on the card and self-installs on the PC. After registering on the Eye-Fi website and setting up Picasa as the on-line destination for photos, the card was placed in the SD slot of an old, 4Mpixel Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z2 camera. In no time, I was taking pictures in my office and watching the images get uploaded to the Eye-Fi Website and into the selected Picasa album. I was thoroughly impressed with Eye-Fi's technology and implementation.

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