GNARBOX 2.6.0 Review Update – A Rugged and Very Improved Solution for On-Site Photo & Video Backups and Editing
It wasn’t that long ago when I first heard about the GNARBOX and was pretty excited to test it out to see how it functioned while out on the road shooting landscape, timelapses, or even when I was photographing corporate events on location. It was a pretty interesting idea that had a lot of promise. When I looked at the first generation, while it was still useful, it just didn’t quite fit my toolbox, at least at the time. Today, things have changed.
This morning MYGNAR INC officially announced the worldwide availability of GNARBOX 2.0 SSD. The product launch has been pretty anticipated by working professional photographers and videographers, who are increasingly leveraging mobile workflows to increase productivity on location and speed up turnaround times. Our own team here at SLR Lounge has had the opportunity to work with this device over the last few weeks and we’ve got a lot of thoughts on the subject, and I won’t lie, they’re generally pretty great! We did find a few annoyances or “cons” but overall the 2.0 from GNARBOX is a solid win in our books! But, before we dive into the pros and cons, let’s have a look at the official press release from Mygnar and all of the details!
New Features & Improvements with Firmware 2.6.0 – July 2020
- With the new Frame.io integration, production teams can seamlessly deliver media from the field to Frame.io using the Safekeep App. This unlocks remote collaboration and allows teams to begin editing sooner by giving off-site editors and producers access, no matter where they are.
- Check out our How to Connect and Upload to Frame.io article for more information.
- With release 2.6.0, we have completely redesigned the cloud upload experience for GNARBOX. The new Cloud Manager provides a robust chassis to house the Frame.io integration, the improved Dropbox upload experience, and provides the ability to easily scale to accommodate any future additional cloud services.
- The Cloud Manager also provides an improved user experience for uploading files to the cloud, giving users more control.
Scaling Pinch Zoom
- This feature enables scaling pinch-zoom in both the Safekeep and Selects apps. This pinch-zoom utilizes an existing JPEG preview that is rendered on the device by the Photo Mechanic software we utilize for RAW preview and then is scaled up, similar to what you can achieve in apps like Instagram, Dropbox, and others.
- This has been one of our most highly requested features since GNARBOX 2.0 launched, and it will allow photographers to zoom in on their images in the way they are familiar with in other image applications and can allow for an initial focus check on a first culling pass while in the field.
- Users will now be able to toggle on and off the generation of MHL Logs within their backup settings. When this setting is enabled, GNARBOX will generate a .mhl file that is readable in any text editor. MHL logs are an industry-standard tool for production asset management and can be used in concert with a number of asset management tools. You can learn more about MHLs here.
- Check out our updated How to Configure Your Backup Settings article to learn how to enable MHL logs.
- xxHash64 provides users with an alternative checksum algorithm with which they can verify their transfers. With this update, users will be able to choose whether they’d prefer to use MD5 checksum, which has historically been the industry standard verification algorithm, or our new xxHash64 verification.
- Check out our updated How to Configure Your Backup Settings article to learn how to enable xxHash64.
Support for APFS formatted drives
- GNARBOX is now capable of mounting hard drives formatted in APFS.
USB-C File Transfer Performance
- Significant strides in our copy performance were made by improving our software, allowing us to take advantage of more performance on the hardware side.
- Check out our Optimizing Transfer Speeds article to get the most out of these improvements.
Dropbox Upload Experience improved
- Users will no longer need to use the Dropbox folder on their GNARBOX as their method of upload, but instead can select their destination from existing folders in their Dropbox, and even create new folders. Ultimately this improvement will provide users with more tools to manage their cloud uploads, and bring more transparency to the upload experience.
- Check out our updated How to Connect and Upload to Dropbox article.
Software Reinstall for System Triage
- The GNARBOX team now has the ability to help users reinstall the software on their GNARBOX and perform a factory reset, allowing us to remotely triage issues, and even get users up to date with the latest software if they are unable to update themselves.
Official Press Release
As mobile devices feature breakthrough performance and the ability to run next-generation, powerful professional apps like Adobe’s Lightroom and Photoshop CC (coming soon to iPad), photographers are seeking even more powerful mobile file management workflows. The GNARBOX 2.0 SSD ecosystem gives professionals the most reliable field backup solution and file management functionality for mobile workflows that was previously exclusive to laptops and desktops.
“We’re excited to provide a complete product solution for customers in the professional market. With GNARBOX 2.0 SSD, we’re launching a file management tool that matches the functionality and performance of a laptop, while also integrating seamlessly with the latest mobile software. It is a great solution for those who have to do critical work quickly in dynamic environments,” stated Tim Feess, co-founder and CEO of MyGnar.
What Is It?
GNARBOX 2.0 SSD is a rugged backup device for pro content creators who need the most reliable way to back up their files in the field. Unlike other storage solutions, its compact design and powerful onboard backup features make it effortless to manage files without a laptop. With up to 1TB internal SSD, SD slot, two USB-C ports, and mobile apps to complete essential workflow steps before arriving to the studio, GNARBOX is designed to save you time and make you a more reliable creator.
Newly announced today, are two product features that bolster the GNARBOX 2.0 workflow. First and foremost is a new, incredibly useful software integration with Photo Mechanic. GNARBOX Selects App is Powered by Photo Mechanic, creating the market-leading culling workflow on a mobile device. The integration leverages Photo Mechanic’s image processing technology, RAW file support, and metadata tagging tools for a complete experience. Dennis Walker, Founder of Camera Bits, Inc., is proud of the work the companies accomplished together: “Customers have been asking Photo Mechanic for a mobile application for some time now. Photographers who use our software do so to save time in their workflow, so going mobile was an obvious next step. It’s exciting to see the pieces come together to enable the performance Photo Mechanic is known for from the palm of a photographer’s hand.”
Also announced today, GNARBOX 2.0 SSD now supports a direct connection to the latest iPad Pro models over USB-C. USB-C integration has been a top request from GNARBOX customers who need to move files to and from editing apps like Lightroom CC and LumaFusion.
GNARBOX has also been working on solutions for mobile workflows with Adobe, whose Lightroom CC is the standard tool for professionals on iOS. Principal Product Manager, Josh Haftel, sees the practical advantages of the new workflow possibilities: “Our team has a deep understanding of the pain points photographers face when editing photos while on-the-go. GNARBOX 2.0’s direct import into Lightroom CC on iOS provides a powerful workflow for mobile photographers to backup and edit their photos, wherever they are.”
GNARBOX 2.0 SSD is a product born from an active community of photographers and videographers. The company has invested in deep customer research, through focus groups, its community, and its Pro Team, to better understand the needs of working professionals. Will Africano, co-founder and CMO of MyGnar, mentioned just how instrumental the community has been in creating the company’s market leadership position: “This iteration on our flagship product is the most complete solution thanks to the community feedback that helped us shape it. New experiences unlocked with the screen and button backup, auto-organization through folder presets and a suite of GNARBOX has also been working on solutions for mobile workflows with Adobe, whose Lightroom CC is the standard tool for professionals on iOS. Principal Product Manager, Josh Haftel, sees the practical advantages of the new workflow possibilities: “Our team has a deep understanding of the pain points photographers face when editing photos while on-the-go. GNARBOX 2.0’s direct import into Lightroom CC on iOS provides a powerful workflow for mobile photographers to backup and edit their photos, wherever they are.”
apps for specific workflows are just a few examples of how this is a tool that will meet the emerging needs of professionals in the field. Through this detailed cycle of product development, we’ve earned the trust of our customers, and there isn’t anything more valuable than that.”
GNARBOX 2.0 SSD is now available globally at www.gnarbox.com and select specialty retailers including B&H Photo, Amazon, and gnarbox.com. All associated apps are currently available for download via The App Store and Google Play store.
GNARBOX 2.0 SSD offers several storage capacities for a variety of workflows:
[Related Reading: GNARBOX Review | Rugged Portable Backup & Raw Editing System]
The SLR Lounge Team Pros & Cons
Okay so, after several weeks working with this device the photo team has some pretty strong opinions on this guy. We started with using it for Photos pretty much exclusively and found that in general, it worked pretty identical to the 1.0 version, so for the members of the team who used that it was very easy to use out of the box. Connecting via USB, it can operate as a card reader (copying to the drive) or can connect as an “external HD” to your computer depending on how you set it up on connection. One new feature that had our team pretty excited was the ability to set up “presets” for the folders. Meaning they could set up a folder structure and choose what media they wanted to dump quickly and easily, also separating by file type! Canon raws in one folder, Nikon in another, Jpegs in a third, and all done automatically!
An additional improvement and “pro” for the 2.0 was the ability to edit and create previews and cull directly from the GNARBOX by using the smartphone “SELECTS” app, (built with photo mechanic as mentioned above in the press release). According to our photo team, it works pretty well and they were quite happy with it.
Now as for a con, this thing is sort of minor, but it could turn into a major pain if you spend a LOT of time working in the app. So here’s the workflow; when using the app, you have to create a workspace for your current project. From there you select the images and import to your phone where then you can rate, keyword, and then save them. Now, this doesn’t seem like much of a con right? It’s only a couple extra steps, but it can be annoying because if you skip a step you’ll lose that work you just spent minutes or even hours on. You HAVE to save in the app to save the changes back to the HD.
Now for the Video portion, as mentioned above, they’ve partnered with Lumafusion which is a non-linear video editor for iOS devices specifically making it super easy for you to create on the fly. Why is this cool? You can edit the video and generate previews from the GNARBOX directly, (works like proxies on adobe premiere). According to the team, it worked exactly as advertised and was incredibly nice. They were able to come up with quick edits on the spot, and made social-media ready videos using professional footage, not just smartphone footage!
Another strange “con” the team discovered, is when using the GNARBOX 2.0 on PC, you have to toggle a setting to mark the device as “optimized” or it’ll be throttled down to usb 2.0. You have to manually change this setting on PC to take advantage of the faster USB capabilities of the GNARBOX 2.0. Occasionally it has slowed down on file transfers, we’re not quite sure if that’s a bug, it doesn’t like smart previews, or if it’s the file types we were using. We can’t honestly say if this is normal behavior or not, but it is what we experienced in our testing. Even so, the thing is pretty freaking great!
Now for the only “major” con we had. When used as a normal HD, once plugged into the computer, you have to go into the GNARBOX, change a setting and then reboot it so you can read as a normal HD. This can take 1-2 minutes. Pair this with when it’s connected to the computer it can’t charge* and you have the only REAL frustration point. So if you’re working for a long time with the GNARBOX connected to your computer, be aware you’ll kill your battery and then have to recharge it before you can take it out in the wild again. That being said, we bounce back right into a pro, because in general, the battery life was/is REALLY good! The charge lasts a very LONG time in both standby and use. In fact, the standby life is exceptional according to Jesse!
*July 2020 Update – The GNARBOX will now charge when connected to the computer with firmware update 2.6.0 making this “con” non-existent anymore.
Technical Specifications for the GNARBOX 2.0 1TB (Also available in 512GB and 256GB)
|Storage Capacity||1 TB|
|Ports||2 x USB 3.0 Type-C
1 x Micro-HDMI
1 x SD Card Reader
|Data Transfer Speeds||USB 3.0 Type-C: 350 MB/s read & write
SD Card Slot: 75 MB/s write
|Wi-Fi||Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) up to 867 Mb/s|
|CPU||2.4 GHz Intel Quad-Core|
|Memory||4 GB RAM|
|Graphics Processor (GPU)||Intel HD Graphics Quad-Core|
|Battery Life||3 to 6 hours of continuous use|
|Battery Capacity||3000 mAh|
|Voltage||7.6 V / 2.1 A|
|Watt Hours||22.8 Wh|
|Recharge Time||2 hours|
|App Compatibility||iOS 10 or later
Android 5.0 or later
|Computer Compatibility||macOS 10.11 or later
Windows 7 or later
|Image Compatibility||Raw file support|
|Video Compatibility||H.264, H.265, ProRes, and MXF|
|Dimensions||6.0 x 3.0 x 1.16″ / 15.24 x 7.62 x 2.95 cm|
|Weight||0.70 lb / 0.32 kg|
Final Thoughts & Conclusion
The GNARBOX 2.0 is a solid solution for not only Photographers, but also cinematographers for on-site backup. Photographers have the advantage of being able to shoot dual card, effectively getting an immediate backup source on set. Cinematographers don’t have that luxury, so it’s a really nice way of being able to back things up without a computer and to allow them to turn in footage without surrendering cards. That is something that will benefit a lot of contracted second shooters for weddings, events, and set work. The shooters can use the GNARBOX 2.0 so they don’t have to worry about picking up cards or getting them mailed back to them. They just plug it in while they pack their equipment at the end of the night and they’re good to go for their clients! Overall, this is a pretty massive improvement from the 1.0 giving both photographers and videographers an extra level of security and control on set. We should also mention, while it’s technically an entirely different product, for those who have to operate on a smaller budget want to save some extra cash, the DJI Copilot can operate in a similar fashion as an alternative, but we can’t give you any real feedback on that unit yet as we’ve yet to test it in house.
Check Pricing & Availability of the GNARBOX 2.0 Here