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Review: Gnarbox WiFi Hard Drive


Gnarbox Product Evaluation: A Wi-fi Moveable Hard Drive for Cellular Workflow

As I discover myself exploring the world with my digital camera, my have to “go light” has ramped up. Whereas I nonetheless favor to make use of my DSLRs, one space the place I can actually avoid wasting area and weight is by exchanging my laptop computer for an iPad for abroad journey. My cellular workflow on the iPad continues to be evolving, however Lightroom CC (previously Lightroom Cellular), is sort of competent for many journey images. The Gnarbox moveable onerous drive is a possible complement to the touring photographer trying to keep mild and use a pill as an alternative of a laptop computer.

GnarboxGnarbox is a transportable WiFi SSD backup answer for cellular workflow.

The Achilles heel of most tablets is space for storing. Whereas the iPad Professional might be configured with 512GB of reminiscence, that’s not quite a bit on the subject of RAW seize with my Nikon D850. Within the subject, it might be good to not solely have a file back-up answer that integrates with the pill, but in addition a approach of previewing and triaging pictures earlier than shifting them to the pill to make use of in modifying apps. Enter the Gnarbox, a transportable onerous drive with WiFi connectivity.

Gnarbox (gnarly identify, dude) is a transportable strong state onerous drive (SSD) that connects to your cellular gadget by way of its personal native WiFi hotspot. This implies you should use it with cellular units that don’t help USB drives, just like the iPad. I acquired my arms on a Gnarbox from B&H Photograph to check, and what follows is my expertise with it utilizing iOS cellular units.

The Fundamentals

The Gnarbox is a self-contained SSD drive (both 128 or 256GB capability) with a built-in battery in a ruggedized case. On the highest of the Gnarbox is a single button that powers the system on and off. Two mud and water resistant port covers open to disclose the next entry factors:

  • SD card reader
  • Micro SD card reader
  • USB Sort A enter port
  • USB Sort A enter port
  • USB Sort B port (for energy or to hook up with a pc)

Connecting to the Gnarbox is a two-step course of. After powering up the Gnarbox, it begins broadcasting its WiFi SSID. You should manually join your cellular gadget’s WiFi to the Gnarbox community. You possibly can then use the Gnarbox App (obtainable for iOS and Android) in your cellular system to browse photographs and different information in its listing construction. Gnarbox helps as much as Four simultaneous WiFi connections, so you need to use it with others within the area.

gnarbox product reviewThe Gnarbox App lets you browse, copy, and edit photographs by way of a cellular system.

Transferring Information to Gnarbox

Copy photographs to the Gnarbox utilizing both of the built-in reminiscence card slots or with a card reader in both of the Sort A USB ports. There isn’t a “automatic” obtain choice, so you will need to be sure you join the Gnarbox to your cellular gadget earlier than downloading photographs to it. If velocity is your factor, you’ll undoubtedly need to switch pictures utilizing a quick USB three card reader by way of the blue USB three sort A port on the Gnarbox. The built-in SD card slots don’t help the quicker switch charges that you would be able to get with some card/reader combos.

You may as well transfer pictures out of your cellular system to the Gnarbox, however the course of (a minimum of in iOS) is a bit cumbersome. Gnarbox doesn’t entry the iOS digital camera roll instantly. As an alternative, you possibly can copy photographs out of your Photographs App to the Gnarbox by way of the “Share” perform.

iOS Information App Integration

gnarbox product reviewGnarbox integrates with the Information App in iOS 11.

Gnarbox integrates with the iOS 11 Information App, and from there you’ll be able to copy the pictures to the Gnarbox listing. At present, one can’t create a brand new folder from the Information App, however the pictures are positioned right into a dated folder within the Gnarbox listing construction. The complete course of is a bit cumbersome in case you’re making an attempt to switch photographs out of your pill to the Gnarbox; my guess is that the majority of those limitations are pushed by the truth that the Information App for iOS continues to be in its infancy.

Connecting Moveable Drives to Gnarbox

Gnarbox product reviewYou possibly can join moveable bus-powered USB onerous drives to Gnarbox

The Gnarbox is accessible in both 128 or 256GB configurations. That’s not lots of storage for somebody spending every week or extra within the subject capturing RAW pictures or movies. Fortuitously, you possibly can join a bus-powered USB arduous drive to the Gnarbox by way of eitherUSB sort A port. I used to be capable of efficiently join each a LaCie Rugged 2TB drive and a 2TB Western Digital MyPassport Extremely to the Gnarbox and replica information to them shortly.

Connecting Gnarbox to a Pc

Utilizing the USB three sort B port, you possibly can join your Gnarbox to a pc to browse its contents. In an effort to do that, you have to first probability the Gnarbox to Mass Storage mode in its preferences. The Gnarbox then mounts on to your pc by way of USB.

Compatibility with Lightroom CC

Gnarbox product reviewYou’ll be able to import photographs to your Lightroom CC catalog instantly from Gnarbox utilizing the Information App.

One function that I actually favored concerning the Gnarbox moveable exhausting drive is that as a result of it’s suitable with the iOS Information App, you’ll be able to browse and import pictures from the Gnarbox (plus another related drives) instantly from the Lightroom CC (cellular) App. Merely select the “Files” choice from the Lightroom CC import menu (add pictures), and navigate to the Gnarbox listing. Switch is pretty fast, as Gnarbox makes use of a reasonably strong WiFi broadcast.

Marking Favorites

Within the Gnarbox App, you’ll discover a particular folder referred to as “Favorites” that’s primarily a digital folder. When searching pictures within the Gnarbox App, you possibly can mark any file as a favourite with the star icon. These pictures will then present up within the “All Favorites” within the Gnarbox listing within the iOS Information App. Marking favorites is a good way to carry out picture triage on the Gnarbox earlier than copying information to your cellular system.

Picture Modifying

The Gnarbox App additionally features a primary RAW editor. In Edit mode, you possibly can regulate publicity, shade, distinction, temperature and extra. Once you edit a picture, you possibly can then export a JPEG copy of it to both the Gnarbox listing (in a dated folder) or to the digital camera roll in your cellular gadget.

Limitations of Gnarbox

A lot of the options I’ve described to date are very favorable for touring photographers who want a transportable storage system that works with a pill or smartphone. Nevertheless, there are some options and limitations that I discover notably difficult.

Battery Life and Charging

The Gnarbox battery is rated for Four-6 hours of use. No biggie, when you consider it. However the satan is within the particulars, and herein lies a serious design flaw: You can’t switch information or join an exterior drive to the Gnarbox when it’s related to an influence supply.

Sure, you learn that appropriately. The circuitry of the the Gnarbox is such that when you’re transferring photographs (even over WiFi) or powering an exterior drive, you danger a brownout when related to exterior energy. This single problem could also be my largest grievance with the Gnarbox moveable arduous drive. Ideally, I’d like to make use of the system with exterior energy (resembling once I’m in a lodge) after which save the battery for the sector when energy isn’t out there.

Not suitable with all moveable drives

I’ve an OWC Envoy Professional enclosure that’s house to a 500GB SSD. Once I related it to the Gnarbox, it powered up however wasn’t  acknowledged by the Gnarbox App, rendering it ineffective. Hopefully, help for this drive enclosure might be launched in a future firmware replace.

Maintaining Gnarbox Up To Date

In an earlier model of the software program, my Gnarbox did not generate thumbnails from my Nikon D750 RAW information. That situation was corrected with the newest App/firmware launch.

No Cross-Via WiFi

If you hook up with the Gnarbox, you need to use it’s WiFi community. Sadly, Gnarbox doesn’t have a “pass-through” function to allow Web connectivity from one other WiFi community. Until your cellular gadget has a mobile knowledge plan, you possibly can’t hook up with the Web whereas utilizing the Gnarbox.

Capability is Restricted

The Gnarbox moveable exhausting drive is presently solely obtainable as 128 or 256GB configurations. That’s not a number of storage given the price-point. For a similar worth as a 256GB Gnarbox, you possibly can decide up a 1TB moveable SSD. In fact, stand-alone drives gained’t interface together with your cellular units, however both approach, Gnarbox is dear.

No Automated Transfers

Presently, you need to join your Gnarbox to a cellular system with a purpose to switch photographs from a reminiscence card. For subject backups, I’d actually choose a direct/automated obtain function.

Upside-down Interface

gnarbox product reviewAll the ports on Gnarbox are upside-down!

Okay, this function is merely an annoyance with me, however when you’ve got the Gnarbox opened, the ports present a pleasant little stand. Nevertheless, all the USB and even the SD ports are UPSIDE DOWN. That’s simply poor design, for my part.

It Will get Scorching!

Most electronics heat up throughout use, however I’ve discovered that the Gnarbox typically will get actually scorching to the contact. I’m skeptical about utilizing the Gnarbox for prolonged durations in scorching circumstances.  One by no means is aware of what occurs to electronics at excessive temperatures.


Once I first learn the specs for Gnarbox moveable onerous drive, I used to be very excited to include it into my iPad Professional based mostly cellular workflow. On paper, it supplies virtually precisely what a touring photographer wants: backup, picture shopping, and quick interface ports. Sadly, the present model of Gnarbox has some critical design limitations that makes me reluctant to advocate it. The small drive capability, coupled with the lack to make use of it whereas it’s related to exterior energy, is a critical disadvantage. I don’t need to run out of storage within the area, and connecting a second exterior drive is just not my concept of touring mild. I’d be throughout a 500GB or 1TB model of Gnarbox that allowed me to make use of it whereas powered and hook up with the Web by way of my at-home or lodge WiFi.

On a constructive notice, Gnarbox is presently creating a second-generation model of the product that may help as much as 1TB of storage and features a USB C (Thunderbolt three) interface and has direct card switch help.

Gnarbox is on the market right here from B&H Photograph

Disclosure: I acquired a complementary check unit from Gnarbox in change for an unbiased product evaluation. 

Comply with Jason Odell Images

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