GNARBOX Wants to Help You Ditch Your Laptop in the Field

GNARBOX Wants to Help You Ditch Your Laptop in the Field

I’m outdoors a lot and I post images and video of my adventures to social media all the time. But one of the biggest problems I have is if it’s anything more than a snapshot on my iPhone, or a video on my GoPro I can pull over to my phone via WiFi, I have to wait till I get home to edit on my laptop, slowing down the time it takes from getting the shot to sharing it with my followers.

I don’t want to carry my laptop with me on long hikes, and GNARBOX hopes to change that by cramming the power of a laptop into a portable, rugged device that can fit in your pocket allowing you to review and edit your content right on your phone without relying on your phone’s storage or processing power.

Users directly plug in a SD/Micro SD card or a USB connected camera to transfer content to an internal 128 GB of Flash Memory which also acts as a backup for your media. Users then connect to the GNARBOX Hotspot and manage their media with an iOS/Android app. This is similar to the GoPro app but the highlighted difference is your content now lives on the GNARBOX and not your GoPro, allowing you to take advantage of the GNARBOX’s quad-core processor which the company totes can handle 4K footage in real time.

The makers of GNARBOX also say this is the only pocket-size device to automatically organize media and employ advanced compression techniques to make accessing and controlling content simple. The app promises to offer a host of features as well, including basic editing and preset filters including pro-style color correction.

Once content has been edited, GNARBOX can upload to major social networks using WiFi on a phone’s 3G/4G signal. But it’s unclear if those exports will include the ability to upload 4K to YouTube and how compressed they actually will be and using your cellphone’s data to do all that can be a lot depending on your cell phone plan.

With that said, GNARBOX has received positive accolades from early beta testers and brand ambassadors, including professional snowboarder and all-around rad dude, Travis Rice who has worked with GoPro as well on the new Hero 4 Session. Rice is now in charge of GNARBOX’s brand ambassadors.

The team behind the GNARBOX released a Kickstarter and have already surpassed their $100,000 funding goal offering the GNARBOX for $149 (MSRP $249). As with any Kickstarter there is risk, but I know personally I am going to want to test one of these bad boys when I have the chance. Bye bye laptop.

Casey Berner's picture

Casey Berner is a photographer and videographer based in Seattle. After living in the Midwest, he followed his passion for the outdoors and took up residence in the Pacific Northwest shooting timelapse and landscapes. He spends weekdays in the office as a video and photo producer and weekends in the mountains exploring with his camera.

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Hmmm... I read it and understood it (kind of). But lacks an immediate aha! Reminds me of the confusion with Wii U.

I think a lot of people are comparing it with a WiFi GoPro or the wireless transfer features on a lot of new DSLRs or the EyeFi. It is more than that. It has a computer in the box with 128 GB of storage so you don't have to use your phone memory while backing up at the same time and use the GNARBOX's CPU and GPU to actually edit your photos in high resolution, something phone's don't always have the capacity to do, especially for video.

Thank you, Casey.

Out of mere curiosity, I wonder how many people will even "get it" (the concept) and thus not get it (purchase).

While I'm no technical god, I scanned over the article a few times but still scratched my head confused.

For all the rest, enjoy. I'd be open to hearing more.

Hi Sean,

Thank you for your feedback! My name is Tim, co-founder of GNARBOX.

I'd love to hear more about what parts of our message were unclear. We are always looking to improve our communication and would welcome the chance to address your questions. It will help us get better!

Please feel free to reach out to me directly - you can reach me: 844-GNAR-BOX x1


What a great example or receptivity, Tim. Thank you.

I thought of 4 references:

1. Attention Economy (the greatest commodity in the information age is a person's attention span). Somehow I had to work too hard to "get it." Maybe it's just me.

2. Made to Stick (same point), cooler title:

3. Mrs Obama: I feel like her

4. And Mr Blueblocker Sunglasses himself, Joe Sugarman:


Or maybe just sales 101 adages of the elevator pitch, or being able to write the idea on the back of a business card. Or better yet... hook me in 1 sentence or less.

Great feedback! I'll take some time to dig in further for sure.

We've had difficulty with the elevator pitch concept with this product - it is multifunctional so this is a challenge always.

If I had to give you a value proposition in one sentence, it would be:

"GNARBOX solves the biggest problem with owning a camera by making it easy to manage all of your HD photos and videos from the convenience of a smartphone"

Of course, within these value propositions are four embedded concepts:

1) Backup/download (we automate this)
2) Organize (we automate this)
3) Edit (we simplify this)
4) Share (we connect you to all your favorite destinations)

It's what we all have to do to make content we're proud of, and we make those 4 steps faster, easier, and more mobile than ever before - it's our mission

So it's everything a laptop does, minituraized and you use your mobile devices as screen and mouse?

Got it!


I scanned quickly, but I would suggest considering making it able to run Adobe CC on it. Just a thought!

This is the best idea since sliced bread!

I did some research, Adobe offers something called the "Creative SDK" that seems like it could benefit this product...

Tim great product concept and impeccable timing as i was just researching options as this popped up on my Facebook feed the other night. I was just wondering 2 things.

1)If you were planning larger capacities soon after our during the funding period.

2) Reading through the product description and FAQ, I was wondering when the Android app would start development/porting. I didn't quite understand the time frame given.

Regardless, i have already backed for one Gnarbox and can't wait to receive it next year. Cheers!

Sounds like you're describing a WD My Passport Wireless, only with flash memory instead of a HDD. I haven't used the WD yet, so I don't know how much functionality the app has- I.e, if it has social media connectivity or whether it can be integrated with apps like Snapseed or Pinnacle, but I still get the feeling that this isn't a groundbreaking product.

Hi Martin,

Thanks for your feedback! My name is Tim, co-founder of GNARBOX.

There are some similarities between us and WD MyPassport Wireless, but some very key differences. At a high level, the GNARBOX is a computer, while the WD MyPassport Wireless is a hard drive - meaning we can run the same types of system as your laptop while the passport is "dumb"

Point-by-point comparison:

1) WD Doesn't support video or RAW photos
2) WD Doesn't have ANY editing capabilities
3) WD's app is difficult to use and crashes frequently
4) WD has just one SD slot and no USB ports for a camera. Users can also only connect to one phone at a time, where we support 4.
5) WD MyPassport is about 2.5x the size and weight of the GNARBOX
6) WD is not rugged or waterproof
7) WD has more storage capacity than the GNARBOX by 8x, our one disadvantage. However, you can connect an external HD to our hardware for more space.

Please let me know if you have any other questions!


Thanks for taking the time to describe things in great detail. I've wanted a simple SD card cloner in the field, but this device offers so much more at the same price. Congrats on reaching your goal! Looking forward to this.

Thank you for your kind words! We have worked really hard and this has been an amazing journey!

Thank you!

This is a great concept, however I think storage options need to be greatly improved, 128GB isn't significant considering a mobile phone can have that.

+1 We want to have the ability to put our own SSDs inside :)

Actually Gnarbox is everything that WD Wireless is NOT. I was very happy with the solution WD made for photographers etc BUT few minutes before purchase I started reading. And then decided that WD's product is a farce, unfortunately. Been waiting for such thing for too long to spend $150 on a piece of gear that doesn't work as stated.

Congrats Tim, You guys are changing the industry. At last!

I got what it was right from the headline. Why seem people not to get it? Also amazing concept, I would love to consider one. Keep it up!

Thanks Max!

First off, I'm very excited about this! I've already backed this revolutionary product! (Pssssst if you need a student beta tester, I'm here)

I do wonder exactly how the RAW editing works, is it editing the JPEG preview or is GNARBOX actually able to interpret and edit the RAW file as Lightroom would.

Hi Daniel!

Thank you so much for supporting us! It means a lot.

Great question about RAW editing - we get it all the time. The editor we built streams a proxy JPG to your phone. While this is the "interactive copy," all of the changes you make are synced with the full-res RAW that sits on the device's flash memory.

This allows you to edit a proxy but still get the full pop out of your RAW photos. All of our light/color/filter system was built by our awesome iOS Engineer/Pro Film editor, Jason, and he is absolutely obsessed with making an awesome product. I think you'll enjoy it :)


Awesome! I'm very excited to get mine in a few months!

So it's an "in house" editor? No chance of seing compatibility with Adobe CC (which offers editing on mobile devices..)?

That's a massive partnership that could go a long way!

Love the idea behind this. This is not a dumb portable HD, but a mini computer.

Can I install my own software on this? How cool would it be if I could export an X-window session to my phone.. basic editing and preset filters, idk ...

I second the motions about marketing though to some extent. The concept and why it is great and maybe even unique needs to come out better and most of all, faster. I admit I haven't checked the kickstarter page, though.

Thanks Ken! Appreciate the kind words!

Right now, the only software you can install on it is the systems we've developed. There have been ideas about allowing more open source integration down the road, so please stay tuned on that front.

The reason it's a closed architecture at the moment is that our OS and hardware are highly customized to work together. Think of it as closer to an iPhone than an Android device, if that makes sense. We've gone through the hard work over the last year of recompiling everything from scratch to make it crank media, which has taken some of our open SDK developer capabilities away.

Please feel free to reach out to me directly with any questions - 844-GNAR-BOX (x1).

P.S. If you have a moment to look at our KS page, I'd love to know if that is a better marketing representation of what we are doing.

I really like the concept but then all the similar products I tried were unreliable. Maybe the GNARBOX will be different? I hope so! Can you clarify something:

- If I want to transfer files between an SD card to an external HD, do I have to keep my phone connected the entire transfer time? Or can I just initiate the transfer and then disconnect my phone and let it run by itself?

With previous products I tested, my iPhone had to be connected during the entire transfer time. I'm guessing it's because the phone was the "computing device" taking care of the transfer. The problem is, when backing up hundreds of GBs, if the phone would go to sleep, the backup would fail! Tell me this is not the case with the GNARBOX and I'll buy one straight away!

Thanks Claude!

GNARBOX is entirely different from the products that you've tried (I'm assuming the WD Passport Wireliess, Kingston Digital Mobile). The big difference is that this product is made by a team of guys who are media and camera obsessed. We took the time to understand our customers' needs and hit them directly with functionality that actually works!

To answer your question: No!!!! That's the beauty of it. Once you tell the box to transfer your files you can disconnect, walk away, put it in your pocket, get on the phone, whatever you want! We've also created a "Sync" mode, where you just have to plug in a card and the GNARBOX will find the files not yet backed up, download them, organize them into folders, and turn off when it finishes.

Quote: We've also created a "Sync" mode, where you just have to plug in a card and the GNARBOX will find the files not yet backed up, download them, organize them into folders, and turn off when it finishes.

Damn. Now THAT'S smart!

For whatever it is worth, got the idea instantly ...

I am using WD wireless in the field - happy with it as is (just went through Cambodia on the rough for three weeks, no issues), except

- cannot connect any periphery like CF card reader or other HD for second backup (and i cannot use SD cards in Hasselblad)
- yes, app crashes at times and is slow
- Paiiiiinful to manage files on iPad, that is, do a bit of editing in LR and send off ... then again, better spend the time shooting and enjoying the traveling ... ;-)

Not sure i would use RAW editing w/o a laptop? (WD does store raw, but cannot display it through its app) in the field, shoot RAW and JPEG, good enough by far to judge exposure and focus

In any case, great idea! Besides WD not much out there in the single box form factor that actually works, Sanho? buggy. Nexto? Huge price (the good ones) and no wireless I think ...

So pls add an internal card reader (SD,CF, ...) and more capacity (1TB minimum, or as option? Flash memory from OWC user upgradeable?)

Think you could charge way more for that functionality - people pay for convenience ... I do


Thanks Alfred!

Our plan is to build the version you're talking about in the near future (1 TB, CF Reader, R3D Reader, etc).

In the meantime, you can absolutely use your USB3 CF reader with great results. The GNARBOX has been tested extensively with a Canon 5d mkIII and it works great! We know the CF card is a big deal to our DSLR users, but in this addition it would've been too costly and large to match our spec.

I will say this - it's way better to use a GNARBOX with a CF reader than it is to use a laptop with a CF reader :)


cool - however, I am shooting medium format besides Leica/Sony (SD), so 128gb just doesn't cut it. In that scenario, i would carry your device, a CF reader and an extra HD ...
IF your software works seamlessly on an Ipad i will, however, be first in line to purchase the device when and if it contains 1TB or more of SSD/flash memory and card readers (SD and CF), pretty much at any price
Good luck with the launch

Thanks Alfred!

This is like the old PD70X or Epson Pxxx multimedia viewer, but with more power and smartphone capabilities. I'm a fan however I shoot using cameras with CF cards. Would have loved to have the ability to back my CF cards up in field and still continue shooting while the backup was happening.

Thanks Wayne!

We support USB3 CF readers and have tested extensively with a Canon 5d mkIII with great results. It's much easier than carrying both a laptop and a card reader :).


That's great to hear! I did wonder why you left the CF card lying next to the Gnarbox in the video but didn't mention it at all. Everything else in the video and on the page only mentioned SD card.

Hi Wayne,

We didn't want to mislead anyone, so we were sure to say that the device only directly supports SD (versus a USB adapter for CF). We'll likely be posting an update to the page to clear this up.


Not much use for those professional dSLR photographers that still rely on Compact Flash, and it reminds me in part of the Epson P series I used years ago to manage media in the field. Don't get me wrong, this looks interesting but sadly doesn't hit all the marks but if you're expecting a photographer to waste more power over USB transfers that's a non-starter. Used to back up the Epson on the move, swap out the card back up then carry shooting with another card, something that's needed during events. These days I remote tether to a tablet not ideal as the Epson easily lasted a day.

Plus no support for Windows Universal apps is also something that needs to be considered especially if the W10 OS takes off.

Yes I'm aware this was targeted at the GoPro market, but the points still remain valid.

Thanks for the feedback Daris!

Damn. I want this. Bad. Wish I could have gotten in at the $99/December level, but I think I'll just wait until next year and pay full price. Looks awesome though.

Thanks Andrew! Appreciate the kind words!

Finally....the missing link. I have pledged already. Can't wait to get this device. :)

Unless you have a i7 processor in that little box i'll keep editing and uploading photos from my Ipad. It's not the perfect solution but when i don't have a PC around it's good enough.

Really interesting concept, and great to see such interaction in the comments. My only reservation is with RAW editing. If I edit files on this and then ultimately transfer those files to my Macbook, will my edits be visible? In other words, does this use Adobe compatible sidecar files?

I met a photographer who works for Red Bull a month ago and shoots their events- he showed me a little rubberized gadget a bit smaller than a pack of cigarettes called a Weye Feye. Battery powered and connects via usb to his canon camera. It's able to read the memory card and let him view the photos on any device, i.e. iphone, ipad, galaxy, macbook, etc, as well as upload either jpg or raw directly to said devices.

I saw him upload the entire night's photos directly to their webpage before he left using it. I bought one and it's basically a router and hotspot that can use your phone as a live view device for shooting and filming, i.e. go pro, do a wireless tether to any any device for an instant display on shoots, i.e. display every photo you take on your device,etc, and it can use your phone as a remote control to control your camera's settings and shutter via a free app. Because it's a hotspot, you can also share out your photos to anyone near you through an ip address you give out. Speed is insanely fast- i'd say about 1 or 2 seconds per 500k jpg and right at about 7 seconds to transfer or display a Raw file from my canon to my iphone and kindle. Also found it works very well with lightroom using it's auto import feature on watched folders. The Weye Feye has been absolutely rock solid in reliability and stays mounted to my camera strap for when i need it on the field. In a way, it's like an eye- fi card, but unlike eye-fi, it actually works and works very well. There are 2 versions of this thing, one is limited to just displaying photos for $100 and the one i have that does remote triggering and other stuff for $150. This is something you might want to review for a future story, bc it's something that has really allowed me to do impromptu shoots a lot more often, and one of the better gadgets i've seen for photography in a while.

Great idea.have a built in cam ranger/weye feye style remote controller and this product will rock

Hi, i'd like to buy this right away, where can i buy it? I saw this first time a few years ago, and seems like it never fruited? This must be the best gaged of the century for professional photographers. So where can i buy lots of gnarboxes (but really buy not just send money and never receive them) also i want to buy a 500gb ssd version. Thank you!

I bought one and this is what I found out thus far:
- When backing up some files fail to back up (in 573 files only 555 where backed up and you don't have an option to check if every single one got through)
- When scrolling through files in cards (both CF and SD, even files in Gnarbox drive), files change their place as I scroll witch makes it hard/impossible to select/view anything that contains lots of files.
- When opening a photo/video to see it and then you go back, you go to the beginning of the file list which makes it down to impossible to preview files and compare photos when you have to scroll all the way down again and the files keep changing their position.
- Thumbnail files jump from one place to another when you scroll up and down.
- Wifi connection doesn't work every time.
I'm sure this could be a great product with some updates but for now, it doesn't work as advertised.