Eye-Fi Mobi Wi-Fi SD card review
Wi-Fi SD cards have become an essential tool for many professional photographers, and now Eye-Fi is reaching out to hobbyists and novices with the Eye-Fi Mobi SD card. The Mobi shares many traits with the Eye-Fi Pro X2, which we reviewed alongside the Transcend Wi-Fi SD card a while back. The only differences come down to the Mobi's simplified setup and a few watered-down features. The Eye-Fi Mobi is available in 8GB (our unit), 16GB, and 32GB iterations. The 16GB Mobi is $20 cheaper than the Eye-Fi Pro X2, which is now only offered in a 16GB capacity. The 32GB Mobi card is the same price as the 16GB Pro X2, so the Mobi will save you a bit of cash and offer increased storage if it suits the type of shooting you do.
I ran the Eye-Fi Mobi through the same tests I did with the Pro X2 card throughout this review, so read on if the Mobi is on your radar.
Eye-Fi Mobi general specifications
- $44.99 (8GB)
- Class 10 SDHC performance
- Built-in Wi-Fi for photo & video transfer from camera to mobile device
- Range: Outdoors, 90 feet (27.4m), Indoors: 45 feet (13.7m)
- 8GB SDHC Memory (up to 4000 photos or 3 hours of video depending on camera model, file resolution and other factors)
- Wi-Fi transfer image support: JPEG
- Wi-Fi transfer video support (under 2GB per file): .mpg, .mov, .flv, .wmv, .avi, .mp4, .mts, .m4v, .3gp
- Read/Write support: All file types, Including RAW
- Latest security standards (Improved WPA2-PSK plus static WEP 64/128 and WPA-PSK)
- Power: Advanced power management optimizes use of camera battery
Glancing at this list, it's easy to see that the Eye-Fi Mobi and Pro X2 share a lot of similarities. They both offer Class 10 SDHC performance and feature ranges of 90 feet (27.4m) outdoors and 45 feet (13.7m) indoors. So, speed and performance on these cards should be about the same. Where the cards differ is in the handling of Raw files. The Pro X2 card can upload Raw files from the card, while the Mobi is limited strictly to JPEG files. Both cards support a variety of video files, and the Mobi can read and write many files, including Raw. They just can't be uploaded.
In my experience, I never really uploaded Raw images from the Pro X2 because it took such a long time, and I only needed large screen previews for my clients. Low resolution JPEGs were nice and quick with the Pro X2, so this was not a major loss. For photographers who need the versatility of wireless Raw and JPEG upload capability, the Mobi will not be suitable.
The other feature the Mobi lacks is the ability to connect to a home or office (third party), or Ad Hoc Wi-Fi connection to upload images to a computer like the Pro X2. In fact, the Pro X2 is the only card that can fully utilize 802.11n. The Mobi can connect to backwards compatible 802.11n networks. This means the Pro X2 card could connect to my home wireless cable connection and use that as a route to my computer for uploading images. This was even less of a loss, since I only used the Eye-Fi Pro X2's own wireless network to connect the camera directly to my iPhone, iPad or MacBook Pro.
The Eye-Fi Mobi connects to a mobile device or computer strictly via its own wireless network. In fact, the connection setup is easier with the Mobi card than it is with the Pro X2. I had no trouble connecting to an iPad or iPhone with the Mobi after following the necessary steps.
First I had to download the Eye-Fi application for my phone from Apple's App Store (also available for Android on Google Play). Then I placed the Mobi card in my Mark III, and enabled Wi-Fi transmission in the Mark III's menu. I disabled the Auto Power Off feature on the Mark III because the Eye-Fi Mobi gets its power from the camera's battery, and auto sleep disrupts the Wi-Fi connection. Then I joined the Mobi's wireless network on the mobile device and opened up the Eye-Fi application. As I began shooting, the JPEGs I captured began uploading to the gallery in the Eye-Fi application, which were subsequently saved to the camera roll on my device.
|A look at a JPEG uploading to the gallery in the Eye-Fi iPad application.||A look at the option menu in the Eye-Fi iPad application.|
The Mobi can upload JPEGs and videos to a computer, but there is no real interface aside from a small task bar menu. Once a computer is connected, images will automatically start uploading to a designated folder. While it's easier to setup a Mobi card than the Pro X2, it lacks the ability to work with the Eye-Fi Center program on a computer, which is the third main difference between the two cards. The Eye-Fi Center program, which is compatible with the Pro X2, has several advanced options and a full menu interface, including geotagging and transfer mode options. The downside is that the Eye-Fi Center program is a bit daunting to use, especially for novices. So the Mobi trades limited setup options for ease of use, which is ideal for beginners.
|A look at the interface of the Eye-Fi application on an iPhone 5.||Connection setup is as easy as 1-2-3.|
The only time I ran into a connection disruption was when I failed to disable the Auto Power Off option on my Mark III. When the camera would power off, the Eye-Fi Mobi would stop transmitting its Wi-Fi signal. As long as the sleep was disabled, I had no problems, but it was quite taxing on the battery, since the camera's screen and the Wi-Fi card were both sucking up juice at the same time. I highly recommend using a battery grip or having spare batteries at hand. After a 5 1/2 hour shoot using the Mobi to upload small JPEGs to my computer for clients to see, my camera's battery life was clinging onto one bar. This was with a two-battery grip.
|A look at an image in the gallery of the Eye-Fi iPad application.||Sharing options include email, Facebook and Twitter.|
Like my experience with the Pro X2 card, I was highly impressed with the performance of the Mobi card in conjunction with the mobile device application. Everything is simplified and easy to use, including a nice gallery with sharing options for Facebook, Twitter and email. As with the camera, it was important to disable Sleep on the mobile device to retain a solid connection. This ran down the battery life of the mobile devices I tested significantly. I found the best setup was to keep the iPad, iPhone, or MacBook plugged in during long shoots.
Fortunately, the Eye-Fi Mobi gave me a nearly identical performance to the Pro X2 card. The Mobi was solid and reliable, and I never had any issues with the card not being recognized by a computer when hard-connected via an SD card reader. Aside from running down the battery life of my camera and mobile device or computer, the Mobi was rather flawless.
In terms of speed, the Mobi could upload a 5.5MP (2MB) JPEG in approximately 5 seconds. This test was carried out on my iPhone 5, iPad 2 and MacBook Pro, and I came up with approximately the same results on all three. Now, keep in mind that while shooting with the Mobi, I was able to see the image I just took pop up on my mobile device or laptop in around 5 seconds. That's fully uploaded, and not just a preview. And, if 5 seconds was too long, I could always capture a smaller JPEG. When I shot in 'S2' and VGA sizes on my 5D Mark III, the transfer was almost instantaneous. This is the time it took from shutter button to full upload, as there is a slight delay while the Wi-Fi signal transmits. The actual transfer time was much quicker, but I wanted a real-world sample of what can be expected while out in the field.
Since the Mobi is only geared for JPEG shooting, most users will want to shoot and upload larger files. When I shot at 9.8MP (3MB), the transfer time was closer to 6 seconds, and 22MP (6MB) ran me about 10 seconds per image. So, the larger the image size, the longer the wait, but not by much. Obviously, there are a few factors at play here regarding distance and device speed. I found at times that image transfers wouldn't start right after I pressed the shutter button on my camera, then all of a sudden they would begin uploading to my device in batches. If you are shooting away and don't need to see the images on your device right away, the Mobi is a very useful tool. However, if you need instant full-resolution gratification, you might find yourself waiting.
I preferred shooting at smaller resolutions during commercial gigs because I really only needed to fill the screen of my laptop. Clients loved the Wi-Fi setup, especially since I was able to enter a command on my laptop that showed a fullscreen preview of the image as soon as it entered the designated folder on my desktop. The iPad was also an ideal device to use, given that it provided the full screen preview as soon as the image uploaded, without the need to type a command.
Now for range. Eye-Fi claims the Mobi can handle a distance of 90 feet (27.4m) outdoors and 45 feet (13.7m) indoors. Just like the Eye-Fi Pro X2, I was able to stretch the indoor range to roughly 50 ft. and the outdoor range to approximately 100 ft. After that, I lost connection, but the card slightly exceeded its specifications, which was excellent.
At the end of my experience with the Eye-Fi Mobi, I was beyond pleased. Despite its simplistic nature, I found the card to do all of the things I did with the Pro X2, while exhibiting identical performance characteristics. For someone just looking to showcase small JPEGs for a client on a shoot, or someone who frequently uploads images to social networking sites, the Eye-Fi Mobi is a fantastic choice.
If I was in the market, I would opt for a 32GB Mobi, which is twice the capacity of the Pro X2 at the same price. Photographers who need an Ad Hoc connection, advanced Eye-Fi Center desktop program on a laptop or PC, and the ability to upload Raw files will certainly want to go with the more advanced Pro X2 card, as the Mobi does not have those features. However, if you're looking for a Wi-Fi card that's simple to setup and blasts images off into cyberspace in a matter of seconds while you take advantage of your camera's far superior image quality (compared to a phone), you can't go wrong with the Eye-Fi Mobi.
What we like:
- Simple setup
- Reliable performance
- Great Wi-Fi range
- Quick upload speeds
- Cheaper than Pro X2
What we don't like:
- Rapidly drains camera and device or computer battery life
- Cannot upload Raw files
- No Ad Hoc connection
- Can't take advantage of Eye-Fi Center desktop program
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions held by dpreview.com or any affiliated companies.