Toshiba FlashAir Makes It Easy to Add Wi-Fi to Your Camera

Wi-Fi SD cards have been around for quite some time, but they don’t actually work that well. After some digging , I decided to try the 32GB Toshiba FlashAir Wi-Fi card , and to my surprise, it works well if you keep your expectations.

I was hesitant about Wi-Fi SD cards because they sound like witchcraft. I tried one of the original Eyefi cards around 2008 and didn’t like the whole thing. I didn’t look back until recently when I decided that adding Wi-Fi to my camera would make it easier to transfer photos to my phone. After all, these things were supposed to work better, right? FlashAir is by far the cheapest brand, with a 32GB card typically costing around $ 30, compared to Eyefi’s $ 90 and Transcend’s $ 60 . So, after testing the latest version of Eyefi for comparison and deciding that the additional features were not enough for me, I chose FlashAir.

How FlashAir works

Using FlashAir is pretty straightforward if you understand exactly what it does. In the case of Toshiba FlashAir, you insert the card into the SD slot and the card then transmits a Wi-Fi signal that you can connect to from an app on your phone or computer. You can even connect directly to the map using a dedicated url (because it’s a tiny server). Basically, FlashAir is just a hotspot that sits inside your camera, but it can also be an SD card.

Most people use these types of cards to add Wi-Fi photo transfer to older cameras. This is how it works:

  1. Turn on the camera with Toshiba FlashAir inside. The card automatically starts broadcasting the Wi-Fi signal.
  2. Go to the Wi-Fi settings of your phone or computer and connect to the Wi-Fi network from your card (for FlashAir, the default is flashair_randomalphanumericstring ).
  3. Open your Android , iOS or desktop app and upload your images.

By default, the Wi-Fi signal is broadcast for five minutes, but your camera’s battery powers the Wi-Fi, so when your camera turns off, it will take the card (and Wi-Fi) with it. This also means that the SD card draws a bit of battery power, although I didn’t notice that much difference in battery life.

It’s worth noting that the Toshiba FlashAir III performs slightly differently than the much more popular (and much more expensive ) Eyefi Mobi Pro line of cards . The Eyefi card can either create a direct connection by creating its own Wi-Fi network, such as FlashAir, or connect to your home Wi-Fi network to automatically upload photos to a cloud service or other device . This is an important distinction to be made depending on what you are on your device. FlashAir cannot connect to your home Wi-Fi network, so the process of uploading photos to another device is never automatic.

Where is it best

I’ve found that FlashAir is best for one thing: transferring photos from camera to phone. To this end, he copes with his task perfectly. It is also a perfectly acceptable SD card with a class 10 read / write speed, which allows you to shoot RAW images and record HD videos without glitches.

And honestly, that’s all I want. I had little trust in this technology from the start, so the fact that it actually works as advertised and allows me to take photos with my camera and phone over Wi-Fi is enough to impress me. Part of me wants FlashAir to connect to my home network and automatically download images to my computer when I walk in the door, but I will probably never trust this feature and will do it manually anyway.

The FlashAir photo import application is beautiful and simple too. You can import photos, change some settings (such as SSID and password) on the card itself, and that’s it. This is probably a downside for some people, but to be honest, there are millions of great photo editing and management apps on iOS and Android , and I guarantee that anything Toshiba has tried to do will pale in comparison to third-party offerings. It’s also nice that you don’t have to register with another service to use the apps (as is the case with Eyefi). Plus, if you hate apps (or don’t have an Android or iOS device), FlashAir also acts as a small server that displays your photos on for you to access from any browser.

Where it fails

As you can see from the image above, the documentation that comes with FlashAir is ridiculously simplistic and on the verge of insanity. This image is the entire guide, that’s all. So, you need to figure out how to use FlashAir yourself without much help. The manual doesn’t tell you how to connect your phone to an SD card, doesn’t specify the default password for the hotspot it creates (hint, it’s 12345678), and doesn’t even bother explaining how this happens. really works. Sure, it’s pretty straightforward if you’re tech-savvy, but if not, Toshiba’s manual is a masterpiece of nonsense.

It’s also worth remembering that the range of a Wi-Fi signal is about the same as you’d expect from this hacked, dilapidated technology. I couldn’t get it to work reliably over a few feet away, and the transfer rate is around 2MB / s, so don’t expect insanely fast transfers. The range is so bad that it is useless if you want to transfer photos to your computer, because by the time you are within range you can simply pull the card out of the camera and plug it into your computer. The Eyefi card has a much wider range, so if that’s what you’re looking for, this card is more for you.

There is also a pass-through internet mode that allows you to access both the Wi-Fi card and another Wi-Fi network at the same time, although this was unreliable for me. I also, for the life of me, could not understand why I even need to use this function at all. If you need this feature, you probably want to look elsewhere.

While I personally didn’t mind the way the entire hotspot photography system worked, Wired described the process as a “bulky deal breaker .” This takes about 10 seconds of your time, which is not tiring at all if you ask me. If this seems like too much effort, stay away from FlashAir.

Bottom line: it’s good for transferring photos to your phone, but nothing more

I bought the FlashAir III because I didn’t feel like spending extra money on a new camera when all I really need is Wi-Fi. In this regard, for me it is amazing. I’ve always had my doubts about Wi-Fi SD cards because reviews were all over the place, but I think a lot of it has more to do with expectations than anything else (although crappy documentation certainly explains many people’s problems too). If you’re worried about the card not working, Toshiba has a list of compatible cameras , although it covers pretty much every camera from the past decade. However, I tested it on Sony RX100 and Fuji X100.

I said this already, but just to be clear: I think FlashAir is a fantastic map if all you need is an easy way to transfer photos from your camera to your phone when you’re on the go. I used this as an easy way to take files off my SD card and upload them to my cloud storage or social media when I’m not around my home and it does a great job of it. If you’re looking for something that will automatically download your photos to your computer when you walk through the door, look elsewhere.


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