Cameras

Camera memory madness: Toshiba and Eye-Fi

What's the future of digital camera memory? Crave asks what Toshiba's 4GB micro SDHC cards and Eye-Fi's Wi-Fi memory means for your camera

Got a digital camera with the capacity to take hundreds, nay thousands, of pictures in one go? Are those kinds of numbers just not enough? What you need is even more memory. Happily for you, it's all go on the memory card front... wait, come back! Eye-Fi has announced Wi-Fi memory cards, while Toshiba has announced new immensely high-capacity cards.

Toshiba has scheduled a July release for its new 4, count 'em, 4GB micro Secure Digital High Capacity cards. That's a lot of images. But a full memory card doesn't automatically mean lots of photos to enjoy -- hence the various systems integrating camera, printer and software, such as Fujifilm's Finepix or Kodak's Easyshare. Flickr has created uploader software to help you share your photos online, and export functions are built into image-management software such as Google's excellent Picasa and Apple's iPhoto.

Still too much hassle? Find yourself a Microsoft Surface, a retro arcade-looking Vista-equipped coffee table that allows you to place your camera on the top and wirelessly download your pictures. If you want to cut out the middleman, US company Eye-Fi is planning to bolt Wi-Fi chips on to Secure Digital memory cards. This will allow you to publish your pictures to a computer, your own site, or a photo-sharing site such as Flickr as soon as you've taken them (as long as you're happy with your image as shot, or have mastered in-camera post-production).

Eye-Fi claims that the computing involved is kept apart from the camera's processing, so in theory there won't be any lag in shooting. We've seen cameras with Wi-Fi before, and mobiles have been capable of sending snaps to Web sites for a while, but this will be the first memory card to allow you to send your pictures winging away. Predictably, the cards will be more expensive than the standard SD card, with prices set at around $100 (£51) for a card that will probably hold 2GB.

In theory, the outlay should be worth as it, as you wouldn't need any more memory ever again, ever. These cards aren't memory at all, as they represent the end of the chains restricting the number of pictures you can capture. As long as you are in range of a Wi-Fi connection, photos can be perpetually streamed from your lens to the Web, providing a real-time visual record of your life as you move through it...

Cor, Crave came over all funny for a moment there. As much as we'd like to herald the dawn of a bold new future, we'll stick to contemplating the paradox of the present digital camera age that even as we fill ever-more humongous memory, we print much less. Online printing services such as Photobox and Snapfish are still cheaper than inkjet printers for simple 100x150mm (4x6-inch) prints, and signing up today nets you 30 Photobox prints completely gratis, or 20 from Snapfish. Photobox has also launched a business-card service with 100 fully customisable cards starting at a mere £7.99. Fill the albums first, then. -Rich Trenholm