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22nd March 2010
How about a jet-set camera?
by Ian Burley

Is this the future for getting pictures out of your camera?

Sony has been showing off an early implementation of TransferJet, a short range wireless communications system designed for moving large chunks data between devices, quickly and easily, without the need for cables, card readers or even wifi or Bluetooth. One of the first devices to feature the technology is the Sony Cybershot DSC-HX5, which we are currently reviewing. Let's say you'd like to transfer the pictures in your camera to a digital photo frame. The idea is that you would simply need to place the camera on or near the photo frame and the transfer would be triggered instantly and automatically. With a theoretical maximum data rate of 560Mb per second (70MB (megabytes) per second, or a more realistic 375Mb per second (about 47MB/sec) you could expect a full 4GB memory card to be copied in about 90 seconds, which is about twice as fast as the fastest USB 2.0 card readers, and there is no need to remove the card from your camera in the first place.

TransferJet was originally conceived by Sony, but the best way to make a new technology like this attractive to the open market is to spin it out into an independent organisation, and Sony did this a couple of years ago. The development and licensing of TransferJet is now the responsibility of the TransferJet Consortium .Toshiba is one of a handful of other big names besides Sony that is developing TransferJet compatible products.

A Sony DSC-HX5 TransferJet connected on a TransferJet pad linked to a Sony Digital photo frame.

So how does it work with the Sony DSC-HX5? Unfortunately, for the time being although the camera is TransferJet compatible, as you can't yet buy TransferJet compatible memory cards (either Sony Memory Stick Duo or SDHC format) outside of Japan, most HX5 users will have to wait until the summer before they can use it. Sony has shown a digital photo frame with a TransferJet pad; you simply place the camera on the pad and the transfer almost immediately starts. Sony says you can place two TransferJet cameras next to each other and trigger a transfer, somehow configuring one as the master device and one as the slave. Apparently we will see TransferJet in laptops and accessories in the not too distant future. The big challenge for TransferJet is to gain widespread acceptance and universal adoption. Perhaps its biggest threat comes from wireless USB, although this has yet to make its own mark.

Note the TransferJet logo on the underside of the HX5 camera.

Why is TransferJet attractive when compared to Bluetooth or wifi? Bluetooth is good because it uses very little power and is a well-established cable-replacement system, but it's much slower than TransferJet. Wifi requires a relatively large amount of power, and is more of a generalised solution that isn't easy to automate like TransferJet. The most common wifi speeds only amount to 54Mb/sec, so it's again considerably slower than TransferJet and even N-class high-speed wifi is only half the speed, at best, of TransferJet.

You will need a special TransferJet enabled memory card to make the system work.

If you are interested in TransferJet, keep an eye out for the distinctive TransferJet logo that you should start to see with greater frequency during the coming year.


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