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Gear Review: GNARBOX!

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GNARBOX is badass, right off the bat, I'll say it. Badass. Does it have some growing to do, yes, but the GNARBOX team appears to have a nice roadmap for software updates

I'm getting ahead of myself, what is GNARBOX? Simply, it's a box that contains multiple inputs (SD card, MicroSD card, USB 2.0 and 3.0), a 128gb hard drive, processor, wifi communication, and a smartphone/tablet app for controlling it.

Why would you want this?

Well, if you are into photography and shooting video as much as I am, maybe you are an advanced amateur or professional, you take a ton of photos on a shoot and will do backups of all you shot each day. We tend to be paranoid, call us crazy, but when we spend all day and sometimes multiple days shooting landscapes or taking drone footage, we want to get our raw work on a backup hard drive. Until now, you have always had to carry your laptop to be that conduit between the SD cards and the hard drive. The laptop is something to perform the process of moving files from one media to the next. Now, if you are a casual shooter, you should be as paranoid as us. Why ruin a trip to Disneyland by having your photos vanish and not a backup in sight. 

This little box allows photographers and videographers the freedom from weight by not having to take a laptop in the field. Even better, you can edit photos and videos from the app. Edit and compile full videos in the app with your raw footage off the GNARBOX, then to share if you have wifi. Pretty slick. Personally, I have to edit on my laptop, it's my workflow. But the ability to edit is pretty cool on my iPad. 

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Truth be told, several years ago I was sitting in a cabin backing up my photos from the day. Thinking to myself I wish I had a way to just have the SD cards backup automatically. I could save so much in weight when I travel. In fact, here's my first flow chart of what I wanted.

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At the time I had been playing with RasberryPi, teaching myself about coding and microprocessors. This was a great project that I almost completed. Touch screen on the RaspberryPi, some code written so I just had to push a button to make the files transfer. But life got in the way and I kept carrying around a laptop for backups. It was fun to amounted to not much more. 

Fast forward two years and GNARBOX. A Kickstarter campaign done well. 

Here's What I love

  • GNARBOX is very sturdy
  • On-bard processor and wifi to a smartphone/tablet app is awesome, allowing the user to do so much more than transfer files, you can edit.
  • Tons of input methods, SD, MicroSD, and on...

What I Don't Love

  • Worked fine the first few times until I was out in the field, without my laptop, and the wifi failed. 

Without the wifi, you are pretty sunk in doing anything. I'm talking about wifi connection direct from the box to your device. Nothing I did would fix the issue. In the middle of any sized batch movement of files from an SD card to an attached external hard drive resulted in a frozen device. A note off to customer support, which was fast by the way, and the answer was that I needed a laptop to download a file to a USB stick to provide a program to reset the wifi. Major bummer. Dead in the water. Until I could get home, I just had to live through a few sleepless nights worried that I didn't backup my photos. 

The solution was easy once I had a laptop. Here's the solution. But it was a huge bummer to have it stop working. 

In all, it's a great product that serves a big need. A suggestion to the developers would be, create a way to push fixes to the device via smartphone or tablet. This would make this pretty rock solid.