A couple of weeks ago, as I was clearing my drawer full of knick-knacks, I stumbled upon something that I had bought a while ago; but had only used it for a brief period of time. It was an 8GB Eye-Fi Pro X2 wireless SD card. I remember resisting the company's previous offerings, but succumbed to this third-generation product as it promises Class 6 support and the ability to wirelessly upload my photos (including RAW) and videos that I've just shot from my camera onto my computer using the speedier 802.11n standard.
Truth be told, there was nothing wrong with the Pro X2 card that caused me to stop using it. In the studio, I enjoyed showing my audience in Adobe Lightroom running on my Mac what I had just taken. Out in the field, I could replicate the experience by having the card joined an ad-hoc network created on my MacBook Pro. But such use cases decreased as I stopped taking assignments and began shooting purely for leisure. I've swapped the bulky combination of a DSLR and a laptop to a much more shoulder-friendly tag team consisting of a Sony Alpha NEX-5 mirror-less camera and an Apple iPad. Alas, with the iPad, the wireless feature of the Eye-Fi card is basically useless. Until now, that is.
In April, Eye-Fi released a new firmware upgrade to its X2 cards to enable a long-awaited feature called Direct Mode, along with accompanying apps for iOS and Android devices. With Direct Mode, my card can now establish a direct connection with my iPad and upload photos to it as I shoot. That's right, there's no need to join a Wi-Fi hotspot or meddle with tethering settings. I've tried it, and it worked like a blast. For example, after one morning of shooting, I found myself taking a breather in a cafe. I pulled my iPad out, and saw that all the photos were already there. I edited a bunch of them on the spot, backed them up to my home computer (using a different app, of course), and emailed a couple to my wife (as proof of my whereabouts).
I've started implementing this workflow in real assignments, with the exceptions of those that require me to use a specialty app that currently only runs on a desktop computer. But with mobile devices getting more processing power with each iteration, and mobile apps doing increasingly complicated tasks, I believe it's only a matter of time.
Ng Chong Seng / Deputy Editor
I write about display, office productivity, mobile, and broadband technologies and products. I also cover Microsoft, Apple, and Samsung.