Gnarbox Review

Here`s the problem – You go out on a trip with your camera or your phone or your DSLR and then you have to wait until you get back and find a few hours to sit down in front of your laptop and go through hours of footage and images and sort them and then start editing and then a friend calls and you postpone the editing and then BOOM, three months later you still have a half edited Premiere file and no travel video. Yes, that happened to me.
Gnarbox, however, aims to eliminate that agony plus it`s going to do so much more.

If you are in a hurry just scroll to the end of this for the conclusion because this is going to be a long one…

Gnarbox
Gnarbox

Gnarbox in a nutshell

Gnarbox is a tiny powerhouse of a computer that is packed in a shock and waterproof case. You can edit your videos and images on the go using your mobile device as a wireless screen. All the work is done inside the Gnarbox.

  • Edit 4K videos: trim crop, color correction, sound,
  • Edit images, even RAW files
  • Back up your files
  • Connect SD cards, Micro SD, USB3 Type A, USB3 Micro B, USB2 Type A, microSD and SD ports, external SSD/HDD,
  • GNARBOX lets you upload in full resolution directly to your
    social media networks, or cloud storage
  • 4000mAh battery enables 4-6 hours on a single charge

Let`s break it down and look at each feature one by one:

  • Gnarbox overview
  • Editing Videos with Gnarbox
  • Editing Images with Gnarbox
  • Backing up your files
Gnarbox
Gnarbox

Gnarbox Overview

OK, let?s start with the technical specifications and see what`s under the sweet looking hood.

  • Intel ® Quad Core, 1.92GHZ CPU
  • 4 Core Intel ® HD Graphics GPU
  • Dual band 300mbps 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • SD Card Slots and USB3.0 ports allow 100MB/sec backup speeds & 270MB/sec export
  • 1 AMP Out per USB
  • Compatible with CF Card Readers
  • 128GB FLASH Memory
  • Supports MP4, MOV, JPG, PNG, RAW image files
  • Supports <720p, 720p, 1080p, 1440p, 2,7K, 4K video resolutions
  • Supports 12fps, 15fps, 24fps, 25fps, 30fps, 48fps, 60fps, 80fps, 90fps, 120fps, 240fps video frame rates
  • works with computers running Mac OS 10 or higher or Windows XP or higher
  • mobile app works with iOS 7.0 or higher or Android 4.1 or higher
  • Connectivity: SD Card port, Micro SD port, USB3 port, USB2 port, Micro USB port

So a pretty impressive amount of power packed into a small device.

The Gnarbox itself is 5.3 x 3.4 x 1″ / 13.5 x 8.6 x 2.5 cm and weighs 1lb or 0.5 kg. It`s solid matte black with green Gnarbox logo on top so it`s pretty stealthy if you don`t want others to notice your fancy gear. In fact it pretty much looks like an external HDD or even a bigger wallet if you have it with the logo facing down. In one corner you have a cutout to attach a lanyard or a carabiner so you can hook it to your backpack or secure it in case you are worried it might get stolen while you are chillin’ on the beach editing your footage from the killer surf session you just had.

The device comes in a small box and is dead simple: it has a manual, a USB cable and the Gnarbox itself – no screws, no clamps, no extra widgets just the magnificent black box .

You only have one single button on top that turns the device on and off and two LED indicator lights. The boot time is short enough but as it is basically a tiny computer you still need to consider that it`s not an instant boot-up.

The front side has two latches that hide the different ports. You only need to open one so that you can keep half or the connection ports that you don`t need covering.

Gnarbox
Gnarbox

Editing Videos with Gnarbox

Here`s how it works in a quick glance – you insert your memory card into the Gnarbox and connect your mobile device to Gnarbox hotspot Wifi to create the connection. You open the Gnarbox app and tap on the device you just connected (you can connect multiple cards/devices simultaneously but you can access only one at a time). Once you have opened the contents of the card Gnarbox will start indexing the contents and creating thumbnails of all your files. You can filter the files by video, image, audio and other – a handy feature if you only want to edit either videos or photos. Select the file you want to play with, first tap opens the file for a preview and if you want to jump into editing just tap Edit. The cool thing is that you are not actually editing the file itself rather a proxy file that is displayed in your mobile device, the actual footage gets processed in the Gnarbox once you export.

Let`s dig deeper and start from the beginning.

Step 1 – Prepare your files for editing

You can mix footage from different cameras so what i suggest is start by going through the files you like from the first device or card and export them to the box. This way you will have all your files in one place and don`t have to switch between sources while editing.

Gnarbox
Gnarbox

Step 2 – Trimming the clips

You have several options to help you trim the clip exactly the way you want to. The most obvious ones are the  trim handles on the timeline that you slide with your finger. This will allow you to get a pretty accurate trim but if you are dealing with longer clips you need to use sharper tools.

For a more accurate trim, you need to pull UP from the trim handle you want to fine tune and then move left or right. This gives you a more accurate way to find the perfect trim point. I struggled with that a bit and I think a second timeline for precision trim would be way better. A lot of the times when I pulled up to fine-trim I accidentally moved the trim position.

There is even a more accurate way to pinpoint the trim position and this on I love – you can move back and forth frame-by-frame by swiping left or right from the video preview. This is perfect for those cases where you need to be really precise. Awesome feature!

Now if you think this is more than enough to trim your clips then there`s a FOURTH option for trimming – when you play back the video you can swipe down anytime to place a Magic mMarker on the timeline. Once the marker is set just tap on the  trim handle and it will center on the marker. This is a feature I discovered thanks to the Support chat on Gnarbox.com and it`s been a YUUUUGE timesaver. For me, the workflow when trimming clips have mostly included the Magic Marker and frame-by-frame scrolling, I found the trim handles far too tedious and my chubby fingers can`t handle the Fine Scrub (Drag up and left/right) but the Magic Marker + Frame-by-frame combo is perfect and to me the easiest and most accurate to use.

Gnarbox App - Magic marker and Frame Grab
Gnarbox App – Magic marker and Frame Grab

Once you have set the in and out markers you can review the clip by just double-tapping the video.

*Cool tip – Tap on the Frame Grab button in the lower right corner of your clip preview and you can scroll the video from your current frame up or down to find a perfect shot and export it as a still image. This is definitely one of my favorite features since I almost always post a cool frame from my videos as a sort of a teaser before I find the time to edit the video.

Once you have trimmed the clip it`s time to do some color correcting.

Step 3 – Color Correcting

This is the part I am most excited about –  You can shoot cool footage and cut it the way you want but just a few touches on the image will make a cool clip into a masterpiece!

Gnarbox let`s you edit:

  • Exposure
  • Contrast
  • Highlights
  • Shadows
  • Punch
  • Whitepoint
  • Midpoint
  • Blackpoint
  • Saturation
  • Temperature
  • Tint
  • Intensity

Most of these are familiar to you if you have ever edited a video or a photo except for Punch – this is a filter created by the Gnarbox team and it`s basically a less destructive Contrast slider that will keep the blacks and whites from either crushing or blowing out.

You won`t have the creative freedom that you have with Adobe Premiere for example where you can go nuts with your edits but then again this is not the purpose of the Gnarbox. These controls are the very essential tweaks you need to make your videos pop. One thing I wish the app would have is the option to save the adjustments as a preset so if I`m working with different clips from the same camera and from the same location I can always apply the settings from the first clip I edit to all of them.

Gnarbox App - Editing and Highlight Reel
Gnarbox App – Editing and Highlight Reel

Here`s what my usual edit looks like.

  • Exposure – I rarely touch that, In most cases I have my GoPro set at -0.5 or -1  Exposure Compensation to keep the highlights from blowing out.
  • Contrast – I found the Punch filter to be way better than Contrast and Contrast slider tends to be a bit too harsh. Less is more when it comes to Contrast sliders in my opinion.
  • Highlights – Good to save a bit of blown out parts of your videos.
  • Shadows – Since I have my GoPro set at -1 EV I always bring up the shadows in my videos and images. This is the first thing I adjust- always.
  • Punch – Good to bring in some contrast, mostly impacts the mid tones
  • Whitepoint – I don`t often use it but it`s a good tool to adjust the white point. You can even adjust them by all three RGB channels
  • Midpoint – Rarely use
  • Blackpoint – Rarely use
  • Saturation – If you use your GoPro in Protune mode like me, then you need to crank up the saturation. Careful, some people tend to over-saturate their footage and it just looks un-natural.
  • Temperature – This can really save your footage, I find that the color temperature is the one thing GoPro cameras get wrong most often, I`m not saying it always messes it up but sometimes the snow can be too blue or the sand too yellow etc. Temperature slider can do wonders with your videos and images.
  • Tint – Again, one of the most important sliders in my eyes to balance the colors after setting the temperature or adding a color cast to create a different mood.
  • Intensity – I`m not 100% sure what the idea is behind it but it seems to work a bit like Punch – it makes the edits more intense and creates a more contrasty look and makes the images pop.

Right now there is no option to rotate the video but as I have been told this is already in the works and will be released soon. I had a bunch of upside down GoPro footage that I couln`t use but this will be solved in one of the next app updatess!

Step 4 – Highlight Reel

OK, so once you are happy with the look and feel of your clip drag it up in the Highlight reel. The Highlight Reel is where you put the clips you have edited in the right order, add the background music and export your awesomeness to share and enjoy the Likes coming in 🙂

You can reorder the clips by tap-and-drag or swipe down to remove a clip from the reel, of course, you can play back the entire highlight reel before you export to make sure it`s perfect.

To add music to your clips you need to have the files stored on your Gnarbox. The best way is to hook the box to your laptop and just drag the files as you would to any other external storage device. ! you need to switch USB3 to Mass Storage mode or your laptop won`t recognize it as a storage device. (More on backing stuff up on the Gnarbox a bit later)

You can either export the clip to store on Gnarbox or export it to your mobile device to share on your social media.
For videos you can export in:

  • 720p
  • 1080p
  • 2.7k
  • 4k

The time to export depends on the length and the quality but overall it takes just a blink of an eye to get your Instagram-worthy clip to your phone.

Here`s a quick edit from 23 minutes (2.7K, 10,5GB) of kitesurfing clipped into 1 minute and 10 seconds.

 

Editing Photos with Gnarbox

I`m still a bit torn between the two formats: video and photo. I have used a DSLR for ever now but got into videos a few years ago when I got my firs GoPro camera. I have always been missing the option to edit RAW images on the go and although mobile phones now are capable of editing RAW I still carry my DSLR if I know I want to get some decent pictures. My DSLR just gives me so much more freedom and there is no substitution for the f/1.8 bokeh and no dual lens trickery of a new iOS device can replicate that for now. And I can`t get the mesmerizing landscape photos with panorama function – I need my 12-22mm lens. The thing that has sucked so far is that I needed to wait until I get back home to get the RAW images to my laptop, do the editing and then transfer them to my phone to share.

With Gnarbox though, you can pop your SD card in the onboard card reader, edit the RAW file and export it straight to your phone, ready to share.

Let’s go through it step by step.

Step 1 – Pick your shots

There are SD and Micro SD card slots on the Gnarbox for a DSLR and a GoPro memory card. (you can import from your iPhone via USB cable). Slide in the card you have your photos on and they show up as different devices on the Gnarbox app. Pick the right one and the indexing starts. Depending on how many images you have this might take a while to create all the thumbnails ordered chronologically.  You can also import files from your iOS device using the USB cable.

Gnarbox
Gnarbox

TIP: tap with two fingers to display file details on the thumbnails.

Once you find the perfect shot from the thumbnails tap on it to see the ful preview, it takes a few seconds to fully render the preview and you are ready to hit EDIT to start the magic!

Gnarbox App - File thumbnails
Gnarbox App – File thumbnails

Step 2- Editing photos

Editing photos is not that much different from editing videos in terms of where all the buttons are and how the workflow goes. You have the most essential sliders to play with to turn the raw material into a stunning image.

Gnarbox App - Photo Editing
Gnarbox App – Photo Editing

The controls are the same as you get with video editing so I’m not going to explain them here:

  • Exposure
  • Contrast
  • Highlights
  • Shadows
  • Punch
  • Whitepoint
  • Midpoint
  • Blackpoint
  • Saturation
  • Temperature
  • Tint
  • Intensity

You can also crop the image by either dragging the crop mask corners freely or select from the presets that are the most common and fit most social network formats:

  • Original
  • Square
  • 3:2
  • 4:3
  • 16:9
  • Instagram Story (9:16)
  • Custom

You also get the option to rotate the image by 90 degrees.

Editing is easy, you get a slider for each control and if you tap on the image you can switch to the original preview to see what the impact of your edits is. If you are not happy you can either tap Undo or double-tap on any of the controls to reset them to 0 and start again.

Step 2 – Exporting

Gnarbox App - Crop and Export
Gnarbox App – Crop and Export

This is quick and doesn`t need much explaining – tap Export once you are happy with the edits and choose between Export to Gnarbox and Export to Camera Roll and let the Gnarbox do its magic.

What I miss about the Photo editing are some of the options you get with apps like Snapseed or Lightroom and I`m sure a lot of users would love to have some preset filters or local adjustments and perhaps some spot removal tools but you can always do some secondary retouches with Snapseed after you have done the RAW editing and exported the image to your mobile device.

Backing up your files on Gnarbox

Gnarbox
Gnarbox

So this is like a third big feature and comes really handy if you are traveling and your memory card gets full. I can`t even count the times I have ran out of memory card space and needed to start picking the files to delete, trust me, it`s not a happy moment, especially if you are on location and want to save battery life but instead of shooting you need to scroll through your images and videos to find the ones to delete to make more room.

With Gnarbox, you can back up some files to free more space on your memory cards to keep shooting. You have a bit over 100GB free on the box (some are reserved for the OS) so if you are only shooting 4K video this might not be enough to back up everything, but for most users that should be plenty!

Gnarbox App Settings
Gnarbox App Settings

Here`s what you need to do:

  • Simply plug in your card, drive or card reader into the USB or SD ports. We do not recommend plugging your camera directly in, but it can be done.
  • Connect to the GNARBOX from your phone and open the app.
  • Select Devices
  • Select your Device
  • Select your files and choose Copy Files
  • Select your destination – GNARBOX or another attached drive
  • *DO NOT DISCONNECT UNTIL TRANSFER IS COMPLETE*
  • Check the Task Manager for progress!

Gnarbox – the big conclusion

Ok, so what do I think about Gnarbox after using it for two weeks?
It`s pretty close to being a brilliant product and seeing how often do the guys working on it push out updates and improvements I have zero doubt that it is going to be one of the best devices any photographer or videographer who loves to be outside and share the moments as they happen needs.

The one thing I suggest is checking out the Gnarbox  Youtube channel because you can learn some cool tricks and tips to speed up your workflow  (like the Magic Marker) and make sure you take a look at the manual and Help section and if you have any questions just check the online chat widget on gnarbox.com –  big shout out to the support team – I had a few questions on a Sunday afternoon and got my questions answered. I was too eager to start editing and the tips I got from the chat made editing so much easier:)

Editing videos is easy and intuitive, you can get all the basic edits done with ease and there are a few improvements coming that should make it even better. For sure it doesn`t replace a laptop and a full-on editing software but show me a dude or a gal sitting at the beach after an amazing surf session editing the footage –  very possible with the Gnarbox!

It’s lightweight, durable, splashproof, dustproof, lifeproof, catproof, babyproof and looks good:)

 

What I love about the Gnarbox

  • Amazing build quality
  • small
  • lightweight
  • Packs a lot of computing power
  • High-speed SSD
  • SD and Micro SD slots
  • USB2 and USB3
  • Ability to use it as a backup device
  • 4k video editing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Super responsive support team
  • Frequent updates and new features

Things I don`t love

  • You have a bit over 100GB free to use, so that might not be enough if you are shooting 4k all day long

 

GNARBOX – Final Verdict

Massive WINNER!

This is a product I personally am very excited about. Being able to do the quick editing right after a good kiteboarding session without the need to dump my files to my laptop and sit down and spend an hour editing is priceless.

The fact that this allows you to share the photos that you take with your DSLR right on the spot is amazing and although my iPhone takes decent pictures it`s no match for a good lens and a decent DSLR.

It`s small and you can take it with you anywhere, just a touch bulkier than your average external HDD but there is so much this little beast can do – and everything is done WIRELESS. I fell i love with this device the second i got my hands on it and I can`t wait to see what the future updates bring. This is now for sure in the TOP list of best GoPro accessories for kitesurfing, so i`ll need to update that 😛

Get yours and start sharing amazing content!

Get it from Gnarbox Store or

Gnarbox AMAZON.com Store or AMAZON.co.uk

 

Gnarbox
Gnarbox

 

3 thoughts on “Gnarbox Review

  • June 22, 2017 at 5:13 pm
    Permalink

    Great run down on the Gnarbox. Makes me want to go buy one right now. Next time you are filming kitesurfing, pivot your camera on the 360 Quick Connect mount and get more “up” of your nose mounted shots. It would look cool.

    Reply
    • June 23, 2017 at 8:32 am
      Permalink

      Great idea!
      Actually was using the Quick Connect to switch angles fast – I had the Grill Mount tied to my harness for that but lost it 🙁

      Quick Connect review coming soon 🙂

      Reply
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