Wireless storage card maker Eyefi (formerly Eye-Fi) unveiled Eyefi Cloud, an unlimited photo storage service, on Thursday morning. The service, which will cost $49 per year, receives photos captured by a camera to Eyefi's own Wi-Fi enabled SD card. The card uploads them to the cloud using a paired, Internet-connected smartphone or tablet as the conduit.
Eyefi Cloud competes with multiple cloud services, including those from Apple, Google and Microsoft, which automatically upload photos taken with mobile devices. Many of these services are free, including Yahoo's Flickr, which offers a massive terabyte of online storage.
Eyefi, however, has always catered to the large base of DSLR cameras, many of which do not have Wi-Fi. "The idea is to allow you — very quickly — to take pictures from your camera, to your phone, up to the cloud, and to let this thing do its work in the background," said Matt DiMaria, the chief executive of Eyefi, in an interview.
Eyefi Cloud requires some tangible investment, but company executives hope that the benefits will be worth it.
Eyefi Cloud works with the company's Mobi cards, which integrate a Wi-Fi radio and flash storage inside of a conventional SD-card form factor. Prices range from $49 for 8GB of storage to $99 for 32GB. Each Mobi card (even one you already own) now comes with a free 90-day trial membership to Eyefi Cloud, but it will cost $49 per year after that. If you choose to cancel your service before the 90-day trial expires, you'll be prompted to download your photos from the Eyefi service.
All photos are also stored on each tablet or phone where the Eye-Fi app is installed. DiMaria promised these files would be downsampled to a resolution that will not monopolize your flash card.
Once online, photos can be tagged and shared, and your friends notified via email. They can be also organized into albums, which can be dynamically updated — followed by further notifications to your friends.
Still some kinks to work out
Unfortunately, Eyefi Cloud doesn't "just work," as so many other services do. An Eyefi representative walked me through the setup process, and I'm glad she did. While it's not especially complicated, the service does have a few quirks.
For one, Eyefi Cloud requires a camera that takes SD cards. This eliminated my older Canon SLR, which uses CompactFlash. However, many recent DSLR models of all brands come equipped with Eye-Fi support: Simply insert the card and find the configuration options in the settings. When I inserted the Eyefi Mobi card into PCWorld's Canon EOS Rebel T3i, that's exactly what happened.
To enable Eyefi cloud connectivity on your smartphone or tablet, you'll need the corresponding app. Ideally, Eyefi Cloud should work with just about any Android phone or tablet or iOS device; however, my first two choices, a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and a Samsung Galaxy Tab, were not supported, while an in-house Apple iPad Air was. Unsupported devices, and also Windows Phones and Windows 8 devices, can use a web app.
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