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Entries in MiFi (2)

Why the Eye-Fi X2 Direct Mode is a Big Deal

Photographers - leave the laptop at home and travel light with just your iPad and the new Direct Mode on the Eye-Fi X2 SD card.

For a while now Photographers have been going wireless and un-tethered with the wonderful (if sometimes a little glitchy) Eye-Fi SD cards. The problem is you had to rely on an existing Wi-Fi network being available, along with an app called ShutterSnitch to get the photos on to your iPad.

If you were out and about, that meant bringing your own network in the form of a MiFi or something similar, an added expense and more to carry and power whilst on the move.

Go Direct

With Eye-Fi's new Direct Mode that has changed. Now you can be a truly 'nimble photographer' and travel light with just an Eye-Fi X2 loaded camera and an iPad (or iPhone/Android device) with the companion app installed.

This is in addition to all of the great features that are already included with the Eye-Fi.

A Big Deal

This is a big deal because once you have spent out on the Eye-Fi X2 card (and with a little bit of setup time) you are ready to go without having to worry about connecting to anything else. The Eye-Fi card creates its own ad-hoc Wi-Fi network which your iPad connects to and photos start flying from the camera directly to your iPad. 

The top-of-the-range Eye-Fi Pro X2 even transfers RAW files, although we guess that will be a bit slower to transfer and fill up your iPad pretty quickly.

How Would You Use It?

Imagine being a Photographer on location, placing the iPad in your client's hands, and letting them see the shots (almost) as you take them. No laptops, no heavy monitors to bring and no cables!

Or what about at a special event like a wedding or a party with your iPad connected to the house projector showing your photos off to everyone as you take them (you can choose which photos/video to send to the iPad).

We think this will free up Photographers and, as long as they have space on their iPad, lighten their load.

It may not suit studio Pro Photographers who need the speed of a tethered, high quality, commercial workflow, but for many situations the new Direct Mode in the Eye-Fi cards seems a winner for the iPad carrying Photographer.

The only real problem we can see is if your camera, like our DSLR, takes Compact Flash (CF) cards. We are looking at SDHC to CF convertors, apparently some of them work with the Eye-Fi, sort of.

What do you think? We would love to hear your comments.

My MiFi experience

I've recently been test driving a 3 (UK network provider) Mobile WiFi unit in conjunction with my iPad 16GB non 3G. On the eve of the UK iPad launch I'd like to share my thoughts, what impressed me and what annoyed me.

The premise is simple. The MiFi unit — about half the size and weight of an iPhone — acts as a bridge between 3's high speed 3G mobile signal and the iPad's WiFi antenna, effectively giving you much of the benefit of the iPad 3G but with a little more flexibility.

In practice MiFi does exactly this. I experienced no problems connecting to the MiFi and only a few issues in getting the MiFi to connect to 3's network. It's certainly not as instant as having a 3G radio built right into the device — the MiFi takes quite a number of seconds to get going — but then most iPad users who are considering the MiFi are likely to be connecting in fairly large clumps of time, whilst travelling to work on the train for example.

The range, battery life and physical sturdiness of the MiFi are just about spot on. I managed to get a good 8 hours of usage out of the MiFi and I don't recall ever going out of range whilst using it around the house and in the office.

I do have one problem with the MiFi

The user interface with its four colour-coded indicators, and tiny side buttons is a horrid. The MiFi should have just two buttons, one large and one small. A press of the larger button would boot up the mobile and WiFi connections, a press of the smaller button would disconnect/connect the the mobile signal. Add in a couple of spot LED's to indicate battery and signal strength and you're good to go. Instead operating the MiFi is a combination of long hold buttons presses whilst squinting at the seemingly random flashing lights. Yeah, it's not great.

UI issues aside, I can recommend the MiFi to anyone looking to connect an iPad, the occasional iPod Touch and any other WiFi only devices to a fast, reliable and cost effective mobile network.

Monthly tariffs start at £9.50 per month for 1GB per month on an 18 month contract. PAYG is £49 for the MiFi unit plus top ups.