Eye Fi has been making SD cards with built in Wifi for a while now and like anything as time has passed it has become a better, more refined product. The latest in the line is the mobi which boasts better performance, better integration with your mobile devices and better integration with your computer.
What we've got here is an 8GB Mobi SD card which retails around the $50 mark. In principle a wireless SD card is a fantastic idea, but it's not necessarily so good in practice.
The SD card
An SD card isn't the most exciting thing in the world but regardless of any wireless capabilities it first and foremost needs to be a good quality memory card. This 8GB Eye Fi Mobi is a class 10 SD card which on the face of it means it should be pretty snappy when you're using it in your camera, right? Wrong.
For the purposes of this review I've been using the Mobi in my Canon EOS 600D DSLR camera to shoot in a variety of situations. I've used it at live press events for Mobile Nations, I've used it in my home office to shoot hero images for my articles and I've used it at the race track to (try to) take pictures of the action.
If you're only shooting 1 or 2 snaps at a time, it's bareable. But shoot more than that in quick succession – not even using burst mode – and you're left waiting what feels like forever for the images to write to the card. Several times in testing I've turned my camera off to extract the SD card and been left hanging because it was still recording the images, or I've been told it's busy when trying to view what's already stored on there. I've got a bunch of other class 10 SD cards from the likes of PNY and Sandisk and none of those suffer in this way.
Before even looking at the wireless capabilities, the Mobi sadly disappoints. Whether performance here is affected by what else is inside the card or not, you don't get what you'd expect from a good quality SD card in the Mobi.
Using with a smartphone or tablet
For the purposes of this review I've been using the Mobi with an Android phone – the LG G3 to be precise – though the experience should in reality be the same if you're using it with an iPhone or iPad. Eye-Fi has a dedicated Mobi app for download – links at the bottom of the post – and the set up is in principle really easy.
The memory card comes with a unique code which you need to enter during setup. From there the app will do the work but in practice it took a couple of attempts to connect to and begin transferring images. Part of the setup tells you to take a picture to kick things off, which it does, but during our testing things were less reliable from there on.
The card uses Wifi direct to transfer the images and when it works, it works really well. There's a slight delay but as you shoot your images one-by-one they make their way across to the phone. The issue is the sometimes flaky connection. It's also important to remember that the Mobi doesn't seem to transfer RAW files. You'll need to shoot in a more common format such as JPEG to get your photos onto your phone.
Eye-Fi also has its own cloud service that once signed up for allows you to access the photos taken on your Mobi – and subsequently transferred to your phone – on your other devices. It's another cloud service, and you get 90 days free with your initial purchase. After that its a $49.99 subscription. But if you're already getting the images on your phone or tablet it's also not that much extra effort to add them to your existing cloud storage providers, especially when you take the price into account.
The bottom line
For photographers on the go the idea of a Wifi SD card to wirelessly send your photos to a cellular enabled mobile device is enticing. Indeed, when it works, it works well. But not being able to transfer RAW files will put off the serious photographer, and the performance just as an SD card in a camera is well below what we'd hope for. Constant buffering isn't what anyone who takes a lot of photos wants to see. But it's made even more difficult to live with when you consider you're looking at $50 for the cheapest, 8GB version.
If you're a more casual shooter and just want an easy way to share your photos with friends and family then it might suit you just fine. In a point and shoot camera the demands won't be nearly as high as in our DSLR. But sadly it's still a great idea that isn't quite there yet.