HANDS-ON BY THEANO NIKITAS
NOT YOUR TYPICAL STORAGE DEVICE
This portable drive is unlike any you’ve ever seen before.
What started as a quickly funded Kickstarter project about
two years ago has turned into a reality with the release of
Gnarbox. When paired with the Gnarbox app, the device
functions as a laptop-free solution for backing up, editing and
sharing still images and video footage—including RAW still photos
and 4K video files.
The Gnarbox features Wi-Fi, several USB ports, and SD and
microSD card slots. All of these features are packed into a rough-and-tough enclosure with its own CPU, GPU and RAM. Gnarbox
comes with 128GB of flash memory for $299. The iOS and Android
apps are free downloads.
Ever since its release, this small company has released multiple
updates and has plans for the coming year to further enhance the
device. Reviewed here is the latest iOS release (version 1. 2. 2), which I
tested with an iPhone 6s and iOS 10. 3. 3.
The device is extremely well constructed and is dust, moisture
and shockproof, although Gnarbox recommends not dropping it
from more than 3 feet off the ground. Measuring 5. 3 x 3. 4 x 1 inch,
the Gnarbox weighs about a pound and is highly portable.
External controls consist of a power button and dual LEDS, which
blink in various colors and configurations to indicate the device’s
current activity, such as booting up and charging. The power
button is slightly indented and a bit difficult to activate and hold
down during the time it takes to start up or shut down. The other
problem I had was opening the two doors that hide and reveal the
various ports—granted, they seem to be well sealed against the
elements, but opening them required some effort.
Behind the first door are the SDHC/SDXC and microSDHC/XC
card slots. Open the second door to access the USB 2.0, USB 3.0
and the Micro USB 3.0 port. The latter works with the bundled USB
3 Type A to Micro Type B cable for charging. That’s pretty much
it—plain and simple. However, this combination allows you to import
files directly from the media card slots, as well as USB devices such
as card readers and external hard drives (which can also be used for
additional storage if 128GB isn’t enough).
Installing and setting up the app is pretty simple. It
automatically recognizes your image source and then you’re one
tap away from indexing your images. It took a frustrating 10 minutes
to index 482 RAW and JPEG files (or 13.7GB of data), then another
13 minutes to download them to the Gnarbox’s internal drive. By
comparison, transferring those same files to an internal drive on a
Mac via a USB 2.0 card reader took less than 8 minutes.
The good news is that you can start editing images right away
and quickly save a single image to the Gnarbox or export it to the
PICTURED: Inside the unassuming
Gnarbox beats the high-tech
heart of a mini-computer.