Maybe you are an old-fashioned guy like me and you still use a camera that doesn’t offer Wi-Fi functionality. You might think there is no way around that besides buying a new camera, but there may be another solution. Toshiba has recently introduced their new Toshiba FlashAir W04 Wi-Fi SD card. Unbelievable as it may seem the FlashAir is a normal sized SD card that offers Wi-Fi functionality, making it possible to connect your camera to your smartphone. The previous versions of the Toshiba FlashAir did have some downsides, mainly the transfer speed. The older cards were class 10 cards, promising read and write speeds of about 10 megabyte per second. That may be enough for lower resolution cameras and lower bitrate full-HD recording, but it isn’t enough for today’s megapixel-monster cameras and high bitrate Full-HD recording. That is where the Toshiba FlashAir W04 comes in with a UHS-3 rating and write speed of up to 70 megabyte per second and read speed of up to 90 megabyte per second. The Wi-Fi connection offers speeds of up to 31 Megabit per second (about 4 megabyte per second). The Toshiba FlashAir W04 is available in 16, 32 and 64 Gigabyte, I’ve used the 16 GB version for this review.
In this review I’ll tell you more about the Tohiba FlashAir W04 and its performance.
Using the Toshiba FlashAir W04
If using Wi-Fi in your camera sounds like a great idea there is one thing you need to do upfront. Check the Toshiba website here and see if your camera is (fully) compatible. Unfortunately my Nikon Df isn’t compatible with the Toshiba FlashAir W04, which is also shown in the compatibility list. That is a shame, so be sure to check the compatibility with your camera before you buy one of these cards! Luckily it does work with my Nikon Coolpix A.
The Toshiba FlashAir W04 looks just like any normal SD card. The size is the same, the only difference is that this card is white, instead of black like most other cards. It offers the same lock-switch to protect the content, but there are no switches or other indications that are related to the Wi-Fi functionality. To use the card you can just pop it your camera and you are good to go. It uses power from the camera, but I didn’t really notice that using the Toshiba FlashAir W04 caused my batteries to drain faster. So it seems to be energy efficient.
The second part of the Toshiba FlashAir W04 package is the FlashAir app. You can download it from the Apple app store or Google Play. Installing is easy. After opening the app you’ll need to find your FlashAir card and link it. Using the app it will find the card and connect for the first time using the standard key 12345678. After connecting the first time you’ll be advised to change the password to make sure you have a safe connection to your camera. After you’ve set it up you are good to go. The app starts downloading the previews of the images on the card. RAW files don’t show a preview, but just have a pink logo. JPEGs have a small preview, and when you click them you can see a bigger preview. You can choose to download single images or download all of the images at once. The app itself works very easy. It doesn’t offer a lot of options, but that makes it easier to use.
Downloading is easy and quick. Just select the images you like and the transfer starts immediately. On my Android phone there was a new folder in my gallery where the FlashAir images were downloaded to. After downloading you can share the images online or edit them on your phone, just like any photo you’ve taken using the smartphones camera. Or you can edit them using any photo editor (like Lightroom mobile) on your phone.
One thing you have to keep in mind is that you can’t format the FlashAir with your camera or PC because you will delete the FlashAir software on the card. That will cause the card to work as a normal SD card, but not as a Wi-Fi card anymore. The only way to fix that is to download the FlashAir utility and reinstall the software. You can also use that app to format the card without breaking the Wi-Fi functionality.
The new Toshiba FlashAir W04 is a lot faster than the older W02 / W03 version. The SD transfer speeds are fast with a maximum of 70 megabyte write and 90 megabyte read. That is about the same speed as the Sandisk Ultra Plus cards that offer 80 megabyte write and read.
In my test I’ve used a USB 3.0 SD-card reader to up- and download a file of about 400 megabyte. Downloading the file from the card the read speed was about 80 megabyte per second. Writing to the card it reached a write speed of over 70 Megabyte per second. So the transfer speeds are very acceptable and make the card usable for almost all applications.
The Wi-Fi functionality offers a maximum speed of 31 Megabit per second (or 4 Megabyte per second). The actual speed is of course influenced by the Wi-Fi receiver you use, the type of camera and especially the material it is made of (metal or plastic) and the distance between your camera and the receiver. When testing it with my metal Coolpix A and Samsung Galaxy S7 I found that a normal RAW file would transfer in about 4-6 seconds. The file size of the RAW files of my Coolpix A varies a bit from 14-18 Megabyte. So the transfer speed is about 3 to 4 Megabyte per second. I could get a stable (but slower) connection up to about 3 meters from my camera. Further away the connection is not stable enough to be really usable. I found the best effective range is up to 2 meters, up until 2 meters the transfer speeds are very good. From 2 to 3 meters they quickly get slower up to almost too slow to be usable.
In my testing I found the Toshiba FlashAir W04 to be faster and more stable than the Nikon WU-1A wireless adapter. That would disconnect on a regular basis and transfer speed wasn’t stable, but the Toshiba FlashAir W04 performance was very stable.
I think the Toshiba FlashAir W04 is a very good and cost effective way to add a really usable and stable Wi-Fi option to your camera. You don’t have to invest in a new camera to be able to use Wi-Fi to transfer you images, just pop the Toshiba FlashAir W04 in your camera and you are good to go. Do remember to check compatibility with your camera before you buy as some models aren’t supported. Transfer speed over Wi-Fi is good, with speeds of up to 4 Megabyte per second. Read and write speed over the SD connector is very good with speeds of up to 80 Megabyte per second. That makes the Toshiba FlashAir W04 fast enough for all kinds of photography and filming up to HD resolution. 4K video with lower bitrates may work, but the Toshiba FlashAir W04 isn’t fast enough for real high bitrate 4K video.