Column by Craig Crossman of Computer America It’s predicted that digital cameras will continue to be one of the hottest selling consumer electronic items this holiday season. It’s no wonder that more and more accessories for them continue to be developed. Digital picture frames are a hot ticket item as well. After all, they’re a great way to display the images we take. Another way digital shutterbugs can show off their images is on the web. There are dozens of website services that let you share your images online such as flickr, shutterfly, snapfish and facebook just to name a few.

EyeFi SD CardDigital cameras have eliminated the tedium of film cameras. No longer do we have to remove used film cartridges, wind in new ones and ship them off to be developed. Yet there is still one bit of digital tedium that remains; the offloading of images from the camera to the computer.

When you are ready to offload the pictures you’ve taken, you first have to physically attach the camera to your computer via the supplied USB cable.

Then unless the camera is set up to look like an attached hard drive so you can drag and drop the images from one location to another, you usually have to run some kind of application that lets you dump all of them to the computer or select the images you want to offload. After that you can once again feel creative by grouping the ones you want, adding titles, captions and generally having fun with all of them. So let’s take a closer look at that boring offloading process for a moment. What if you didn’t have to do that anymore? What if you could just point, shoot and your images would automatically be downloaded to your computer without any wires? Even better, what if you could just download them directly to the web, directly to any of those picture websites I mentioned? Or best of all, what if you could do both at the same time? Well now you can.

Introducing Eye-Fi

With Eye-Fi, you just snap the pictures and automatically have them delivered to both your computer and the website without any wires. The Eye-Fi is a 2 gigabyte SD type memory card that replaces your camera’s existing memory card. But what makes this memory card stand out in the crown is that it also has 802.11g Wi-Fi built in. But it’s more than just built-in Wi-Fi that make the whole thing work. The Eye-Fi is a well thought out system that takes you through the easy setup. Included with the little SD card is a USB memory card reader. This is used as part of the setup procedure.

To begin, you first insert the Eye-Fi SD card into the reader and plug that into your computer’s USB port. From there, the built-in application lets you set up the Eye-Fi to detect and access your wireless network, configure password entry for security, and select where and how you want the Eye-Fi to deliver your images. The Eye-Fi is pretty flexible with its options and will let you access most Wi-Fi networks with some exceptions. For example, while it will let you access most public Hot Spots, currently it won’t work at ones that require you to log in via an initial web browser splash screen.

Once you have your Eye-Fi setup and registered with the Eye-Fi service, you remove the card from the reader, insert it into your digital camera and you’re ready to go. Now all you have to do is take pictures. If you are within your Wi-Fi network’s range, your pictures will be instantly uploaded to your computer, your website or both depending on how you configured it.

Images will be sent as complete JPEG files to your computer but depending on the web service you select, images may be scaled automatically to fit the required format constraints.

The Eye-Fi works only with cameras that use the SD format memory cards, and is compatible with both Windows and Macintosh computers. For a list of all compatible cameras and services, it’s best to visit the Eye-Fi website at http://www.eye.fi. The Eye-Fi Card¹s suggested retail price is $99.99. This includes a card reader, access to the Eye-Fi Manager and unlimited uploads via the Eye-Fi Service.

If you’re struggling to find something for the technology buff this holiday, see if they have a digital camera. Make sure it uses an SD memory card or if you don’t want to tip them off, just ask what make and model they use.
Then see if it’s listed at the Eye-Fi website. The Eye-Fi is a gift that will make any digital camera owner smile and say “Cheese.”

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About Craig Crossman

Craig Crossman is a McClatchy-Tribune newspaper columnist writing about computers and technology. He also hosts the nation’s longest running nationally syndicated radio talk show on computers and technology, Computer America, heard on both the Business TalkRadio Network® and the Lifestyle TalkRadio Network®, weeknights at 10PM Eastern time. Visit his website at http://www.computeramerica.com

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This column was released on December 10, 2007. Links have been added by TigerDirect News Editors. This column was originally released on Computer America’s Column Archives.