Walt Mossberg

Recent Columns by Walt Mossberg

Mossberg’s Mailbox

Downloading Pictures Wirelessly

Here are a few questions I’ve received recently from people like you, and my answers. I have edited and restated the questions a bit, for readability.

Has anyone come up with a method that allows people to take pictures with a regular digital camera and then download them wirelessly to a computer, and/or perhaps to the Internet?

There have been a few digital cameras with built-in Wi-Fi wireless capability, but the best and simplest method I know is a $100 product called Eye-Fi. This tiny gadget looks and works like a regular, garden-variety SD memory card, but it packs a Wi-Fi transmitter inside. It fits into a standard SD memory-card slot and is compatible with a wide range of camera models from Canon (CAJ), Kodak (EK), Nikon (NINOF.PK) and others.

Coupled with clever software, and a clever Web site, the Eye-Fi card automatically zips your pictures wirelessly to your PC or Mac, and/or to your choice of over 20 online photo-sharing services.

For more information, see www.eye.fi. For a list of compatible cameras, see support.eye.fi/compatibility/. For a full review of the product, see: solution.allthingsd.com/20071121/.

You mentioned last week that SugarSync might be a good solution for backups, so if one computer dies your files still exist on another system. But what if the doomed computer doesn’t actually die but its files are corrupted by malicious software? Do those newly corrupted files overwrite the good copies on your SugarSync network?

They could do so, depending on which folders you had chosen to replicate on your other computers. Automatic-synchronization services like SugarSync have a tough time telling whether changes to a file are deliberate, accidental or the result of some sort of corruption. Though the last is rare, it could look to SugarSync like you had changed the file on purpose.

One way to guard against that is for a service to offer “versioning” — the practice of maintaining multiple past copies of a file. That way, if a change isn’t intentional, you can go back to the prior, pristine version. Sharpcast, the company that makes SugarSync, says it is planning to add versioning to the service, but offers no specific date. In the meantime, one way to back up a file without fear of its being overwritten by a corrupted version is to upload it to SugarSync’s special “Web Archive” folder, whose contents are never automatically updated.

Have you ever reviewed and suggested a media player for connecting to a home theater to play all songs, videos and photos that exist on your home computers?

Yes, I have reviewed several over the years. The one I find simplest and best designed is Apple TV, which, despite its name, can work fine in a household with no other Apple (AAPL) hardware. It costs $229 and is a small, thin, unobtrusive box that fetches music, photos and videos from your home network using either a wired or a wireless connection. It can connect to your TV set or home theater via a variety of analog and digital ports, including component-video, HDMI, and optical and analog audio. It supports high-definition video and works with any computer, Windows or Mac, that has Apple’s free iTunes software installed and running.

Apple TV handles many standard photo, music and video formats, but it is limited to music and video files that iTunes can handle. That excludes copy-protected files in Microsoft’s formats, and certain open Microsoft formats, but includes common files like MP3s. Apple TV also allows you to access YouTube and to purchase music and TV shows from Apple, and rent movies from Apple, without the use of a computer.

  • You can find Mossberg’s Mailbox, and my other columns, online for free at the new All Things Digital Web site, http://walt.allthingsd.com.

Top Products in Two Decades of Tech Reviews

December 17, 2013 at 6:04 pm PT

Diabetes Data Beamed to Your Phone

December 10, 2013 at 6:16 pm PT

Two Houses, One Cable TV Bill

December 10, 2013 at 6:14 pm PT

Calling Overseas on Wi-Fi

December 03, 2013 at 6:18 pm PT

Dell Tablets at Bargain Prices

December 03, 2013 at 6:12 pm PT

Latest Video

View all videos »

Search »

Walt Mossberg’s Product Guides

Desktop PC’s and Laptops

The Laptops to Buy

Digital Cameras

Digital Cameras Improve Zooms, HD Function