Wireless memory cards are not exactly a totally recent invention, but they are very rare, due to their price and lack of a great customer base. Toshiba decided it could still benefit from launching one though.
The reason Wi-Fi-enabled memory cards aren't exactly super-popular is simple: wireless connectivity isn't exactly required or relevant in most cases and, thus, the extra cost isn't worth it for most.
The majority of laptops have integrated memory card readers, and some desktop motherboards do too. In cases where such things are absent, USB-connected card readers are easy and cheap enough to get.
Photo and video cameras are also often used too far away from any Wi-Fi capable PC or storage device.
For those who still want an SDHC card with a built-in WLAN chip + antenna, Toshiba has the FlashAir line.
Fully compliant with SD Association Memory card standards, it has 8 GB of storage space and the ability to link wirelessly to PCs without any special driver or other software. Internet connection is, likewise, not needed.
"Sharing and transferring photos from a camera to all the various gadgets a consumer owns these days can be a tedious process," said Maciek Brzeski, vice president of product marketing and development of branded storage products, Toshiba America Information Systems, Inc., Digital Products Division.
"To simplify this process, Toshiba has created the FlashAir, which allows photos to be transferred wirelessly from a digital camera to a Wi-Fi-enabled PC, tablet or smartphone, removing the need for cables or card removal."
For peace of mind, the WLAN capability is off most of the time. The wireless chip only turns on when needed, saving energy when not in use. Shipments will begin this month (November 2012), through ToshibaDirect.com
, for $79.99 / 62.80-79.99 Euro.
On a related note, camera maker Olympus has agreed to include free FlashAir cards with its products for a while (free through a mail-in rebate