I’m a bit disappointed by this one. I’ve been a huge fan of Eye-Fi cards for several years and own and use several cards. Now, they’re taking planned obsolescence to a whole new level by effectively making most of their past products useless in one fell swoop.
According to an email I received from Eye-Fi today as an existing customer, as of today, Eye-Fi will no longer be offering support for its “legacy product lines”, which includes the very popular Pro X2 range and basically every other product they’ve made except for the current post-2013 Mobi Pro. Pulling the plug basically makes your existing products dead.
As consumers we understand and expect that support for products will end, and we’re left to fend for ourselves. Rarely, however, does this basically means “pay us more money for a new card, because we’re killing your old one”.
But that’s exactly what’s happening on September 16th, as “key services these products rely on will be shut down at that time”. Here’s the full list.
- All original pre-X2 products (Original, Home, Share, Explore, Video Share, Video Explore, Pro)
- 4GB Geo X2
- 4GB Connect X2
- 8GB Explore X2
- 8GB Mobile X2
- 8GB Pro X2
- 16GB Pro X2
- Visioneer X2
- Sandisk X2
- Eye-Fi Windows desktop software (Eye-Fi Center)
- Eye-Fi Mac desktop software (Eye-Fi Center)
- Eye-Fi app for iOS
- Eye-Fi app for Android
- Eye-Fi Center web app (center.eye.fi)
Their reasoning for killing off the products is that the wi-fi technologies used when the cards were first made are no longer deemed to be secure. This may certainly be true, but isn’t it ultimately the user’s choice to determine what level of security they need?
use my Eye-Fi cards used to use my Eye-Fi cards when shooting out on location in the middle of nowhere with my own private LAN, without another soul within a mile of myself and my crew. Wi-Fi security really isn’t high up on my list of priorities in such conditions. My cards are never going to be on a public Wi-Fi or connected to the Internet (except where you have no choice).
That’s where the problem lies. In order to actually do anything with your card, even if you’re not going to be backing up your images to “the cloud”, your card needs to be on an Internet capable network in order to configure it.
I use a TP-Link TL-WR702N USB powered Wi-Fi router when I need a private LAN on location. The only time I ever use it is when shooting on location, with maybe a laptop, a couple of iPads, a couple of phones, and a camera or two (via Eye-Fi).
In order to get my Eye-Fi cards logging onto this router, the requirement to be online in order to connect to it was a pain, and you can’t tell it to connect to a Wi-Fi network other than the one the configuring computer is already on (even if you want to use the card on a different network).
So, I had to disconnect my PC from the router in my house. Then I had to disconnect that router from my cablemodem and replace it with the TP-Link and plug my computer into that (after rebooting so that everything saw the new MAC addresses and didn’t get confused), plug my Eye-Fi card into an SD card reader and into the USB socket of my PC.
Then I run the Eye-Fi software, which needs to be online, set up the network for the TP-Link, and the configuration information gets sent back down the Internet to my Eye-Fi software and into the card.
Then I unplug everything again, wire things back up the way they were, reboot, and I’m back. In all, the process took far longer than it should’ve needed to.
I’ve now replaced the TL-WR702N with the newer and faster TP-Link TL-WR802N, and I’m going to have to go through that whole pain in the backside process again to configure my Eye-Fi cards for that… Except I can’t!
There’s no way to configure these cards without the Internet, which means that when Eye-Fi pull those servers down on September 16th, all our existing cards are pretty much useless, unless we’ve already configured them to work in Direct Mode (which Eye-Fi warn will probably also quit working when the servers go down).
I can also understand the pulling of the servers. If they’re no longer selling products that require them, then why waste money and resources keeping them up?
But surely they could’ve released a standalone version of their desktop software that doesn’t require Internet? Or a firmware update that wouldn’t completely kill products that we’ve actually paid money for?
They’ve been working on phasing out products and getting ready to drop support since 2012, but when the products still work fine for the vast majority of people who own them, I can see this losing them a lot of past customers who are now being told to pay up for a new device or go away.
I know that I’ll never be buying another Eye-Fi product again, even for my cameras that don’t feature built-in Wi-Fi. Fortunately, as those cameras get replaced, thanks to manufacturers now including Wi-Fi as standard in many new cameras, I don’t have to.
Do you use Eye-Fi cards? Is this going to drastically and potentially expensively change your process and workflow? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.