Working with the Toshiba FlashAir II wireless SD card
With storage prices declining and the popularity of SD cards increasing, some computer makers are incorporating SD card readers into their machines.
I find myself using them even more than USB thumb drives because of their small size and the fact that they fit into all my cameras, which makes it easy to carry files and photos around at all times.
What makes this Toshiba SD card stand out from the rest? It comes with a wireless connection. You can share your videos and photos with seven devices at the same time: PCs, Macs, smartphones and tablets, without the need for an Internet connection.
The Toshiba FlashAir is available in the following variations: 8GB, 16GB, 32GB. The declared speed class is 10, which should make it fast enough for most applications. It supports the 802.11 b/g/n wireless standards as well as WEP, TKIP, WPA, WPA2 security.
I configured the card using OS X. The utility provided for the configuration recognized the card as soon as I inserted it into the computer and offered the following settings:
I’m happy to report that Toshiba allows passwords up to 63 characters in length, which is way more than some of the apps I use on a daily basis.
When you’re done setting up the card, you can check out the main menu of the FlashAirTool for additional options:
For added convenience and simplified sharing, I suggest enabling Internet pass-through mode. When you connect your mobile device to the card, this mode will allow the device to access the Internet using the access point of your choice.
Once you’re done, insert the card in your camera and connect a device to its wireless network, just as you would with any other network:
Once you’re hooked up, the images should start appearing on your device(s) as they are taken on your camera.
Things to keep in mind
Although you can switch the wireless function of the card ON and OFF at your convenience, the card will impact the camera’s battery. Keep that in mind if you’re working in challenging conditions with no additional sources of power.
The Toshiba FlashAir is convenient and the backup option is a big selling point for me personally. Add to that a low price of around $50 for a 32GB card, and it’s very tempting to have this piece of kit in your bag. I’m thinking in terms of backup and ease of the occasional edit on the road, and less about real-time monitoring in a busy photo shoot.
With all this in mind, I wouldn’t recommend this SD card for professional usage in a fast-paced environment where you need lots of images immediately. Also, RAW files from my Fujifilm X100S are not recognized and have no thumbnails, which makes them difficult to browse on-the-fly. I’m confident Toshiba will address this in a future update, new cameras are released all the time, and they have to keep up.
In order to widen the appeal of these cards, Toshiba launched a developer’s site that features API information for enabling transfers of files stored on FlashAir cards to Wi-Fi devices.
One of the iOS apps that caught my eye is Wifi SD Card Backup, which enables you to backup full resolution images from your camera to your smartphone. If your mobile device is connected to a cloud service like iCloud or Dropbox, you can seamlessly ensure your photos are safe while on the move, not to mention you can edit them on-the-fly.