#Gnarbox Well, this is awkward

To summarise, in July 2015 I got all excited when I discovered the Kickstarter project Gnarbox. It was due to arrive in March 2016 (Gnarbox). There were in fact multiple delays, multiple promises of delivery, and multiple broken promises and missed delivery deadlines. Fourteen months after it was first due to arrive… it arrived. However, trust had diminished increasingly as each promised delivery came and went. Additionally, there were problems when they claimed to be delivering in late March 2017; people got shipping notices but still nothing arrived by late April. More trust was lost. Consequently, I cancelled my order. However, this is the series of events:

29th April 2017: Request made to cancel order, and receive refund by Kickstarter messenger. Picture 1 below.

Gnarbox interaction 20th May

Gnarbox interaction 20th May

4th May 2017: Delivery / shipment notice delivered by email.

6th May 2017: Gnarbox acknowledges cancel request via Kickstarter messenger.

19th May 2017: Gnarbox arrives! (shortly before 7pm), and I had to pay ¥900 for duties.

Gnarbox arrives.

Gnarbox arrives.

20th May 2017: I contact Gnarbox to ask what now.

22nd May 2017: Gnarbox gives a convoluted response, which hints at no desire to actually communicate, and is laced with assumption that I’d keep it anyway.

Reply from Gnarbox 22nd May 2017

Reply from Gnarbox 22nd May 2017

23rd May 2017: PetaPixel does a story on this device, claiming they started delivering in November 2016. In fact, the first deliveries were to their friends in February or early March 2017.

28th May 2017: I still haven’t used it. There literally is dust on the box, which had only been opened once. I’ve been using my iPhone or the Toshiba wifi card instead.

A 32Gb Toshiba wifi card is available for about 5,000 yen or USD$50.

A 32Gb Toshiba wifi card is available for about 5,000 yen or USD$50.

 

Will I use my Gnarbox? Why did I get it? For one main reason, and one lesser one. For in-field back up, and perhaps for direct to social media posting. Now, I’ll probably use it very little as memory cards are very reliable, and I’ve never lost one (yet). It’s already obsolete; 128Gb capacity is not very much, and now very small for videographers. Additionally, I was never really into social media until recently, but the quality of my new iPhone is really good and perfect for shoot-direct to social media. Finally, I now have a wifi SD card which does the job lighter, cheaper, and easier, and my next camera will probably have wifi built in. That leaves the elephant in the room remains; the Gnarbox photo & video processing. I mainly use Adobe PhotoShop Express on both my iPhone and iPad, which is a more mature product than the Gnarbox editor. Consequently, in 2017 the Gnarbox is a waste. If it were invented ten years ago, then absolutely it would have been used to death.

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It’s Golden Week in Japan. Enjoy.

It’s Golden Week in Japan, which is actually a few days plus a weekend of no-work. Golden Week is a collection of public holidays, and an agreement by companies to let their workers see their families. Right now, the highways and public transport systems will be clogged and backup for tens of hours as families try to get from city to city to see grandparents. This photo was take on Sunday, when Sakae closes off the main street that is lined with department stores in the centre of the trendy shopping area of the city. I missed the height of the day where there were stalls and shoppers moving freely between department stores. Japan is a very spending/shopping oriented culture. It is as if shopping is a national pastime. Update to the JapanesePhotos Instagram at: http://bit.ly/2qB1C5F. This photo, and others like it are available for sale in my Nagoya Gallery.

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Oh no! My #GnarBox shipping notice!

On Sunday I gave up. All the comments on a kickStarter were saying that only Americans and Germans were getting their Gnarboxes. There were some comments on technical issues including batteries not recharging, failed updates turning devices to bricks, and some SD card slots not working (it’s essential for them to be functional). The device is now totally 14months overdue, and despite delivery notices, weeks later, devices were not arriving still. So I gave up and requested my money back on Saturday.

On Sunday, I bought a cheap ¥5,000 ($50) wifi capable memory card, which does half of the job of the Gnarbox. The other half of the job the Gnarbox does is backs up memory cards, which I’ve never lost or had damaged.

Toshiba FlashAir wifi capable memory card

Toshiba FlashAir wifi capable memory card

Then today (Thursday) I get this notice, which means, they either didn’t look for my request or ignored it.

Gnarbox Delivery Notice

Gnarbox Delivery Notice

So, what should I do? Return it or keep it? I’ll probably keep it, as an in-field backup device. I’ll see how it goes. It wasn’t a huge outlay of money. Unfortunately, Gnarbox decided to use USPS as their courier, which means poor tracking. I have no idea where the package is, nor its estimated delivery date. It could arrive next week, six weeks, or lost in customs.

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I’ve given up on the #Gnarbox

The Gnarbox is now 14 months overdue. That is, one year and two months late. I’m in awe and wonder at how they can pay their employees for a year, and not be making money for over a year either. I don’t know their financial situation, but I bet it’s dicey.

The Gnarbox page on Kickstarter.

The Gnarbox page on Kickstarter.

There were many promises of delivery, and many missed delivery deadlines. I have to go back through my previous blog posts to count them (seven or eight, depends on how you count the most recent promises). The last communication from the Gnarbox company was the 8th of April, and they promised imminent delivery, and since then they’ve ignored their backer community. There have been backers saying that they’d just received their delivery notification. Weeks later, the same people are saying they’ve got their delivery notification, but nothing has arrived as yet. One backer, Gabriel Legault said in the comments section that he had phoned Gnarbox, and was told the problem is with USPS (an American delivery company). This begs the question, why doesn’t a delivery company deliver? I can order from iHerb, an American company, and within seven days of pushing the “Order Now” button, the box had arrived, and I’m already eating my goodies. Why are Gnarbox backers waiting for over a month? I can only assume that one of several possibilities. Please note that this is pure speculation, and is done so in the absence of communication from the Gnarbox company.

  1. The delivery notice is a delay tactic. The Gnarbox company may not be able to pay for delivery. Perhaps they need to sell Gnarboxes to new customers until they can get money to pay for delivery. This fits the story that USPS would be waiting for payment before delivery can commence. Or else the imminent delivery notice is a rouse to bide time until money is available to pay for postage.
  2. The delivery notice is a delay tactic. Perhaps there’s some other technical issue they cannot fix yet, and the delivery notices are a rouse to bide time until they really can deliver. That is to say, there are no boxes/parcels as USPS yet.
  3. They have started deliveries, but so far, only people in the US have received theirs. They are only delivering to backers in legal jurisdictions that can harangue the Gnarbox company into court, and hoping that they can get away with not delivering to others. This fits the story that someone in Germany has theirs held up in customs, but Singapore, Japan, New Zealand, and others are yet to be told anything. That is, they are aware that they have legal obligations, and accept the fact that these cannot be met, but are doing what they can to reduce the hurt to themselves.
  4. Some other reason that I haven’t thought of and unaware of.

Since July 2015, when I first backed this project three things have happened. Firstly, the size of the Gnarbox device (128Gb) is no longer a realistic size for me as a travel photographer. Honestly, it was just under the size I expected for such a device when I first ordered, and now with my new Sony a99 (purchased in Jan 2016), it became that less capable. Secondly, security of internet capable devices has come to the fore. With webcams being used to spy on people (including children’s toys, and Samsung TVs); Gnarbox has said nothing about device security. Journalists have been demanding encryption and password access to recording equipment on their new devices. Thirdly, and significantly, my next camera is probably going to have wifi built in. That means, I can connect to the camera directly (without needing the Gnarbox as a middle man), and edit and share photos and videos direct from my iPhone or iPad. I’m currently seriously ditching my Sony/Minolta system to go to the Canon M6. The Canon M6 is small, light, and has all the features I need, without the weight and the bulk my current system suffers. There are many other advantages to going to the M6, but that’s for another blog post.

Canon M6 with wifi and other connectivity options.

Canon M6 with wifi and other connectivity options.

Therefore, I had to reconsider my investment. The main issues are the lack of security, my next camera this year will have wifi built in, and the Gnarbox has a limited storage capacity, which makes it already mostly obsolete even before I get it. Furthermore, because I do not believe they can deliver from their lack of communication and possible capital issues. Consequently, on 29th April 2017 I sent them a personal message through Kickstarter requesting a refund. Below is the polite request I had made.

Request to cancel and refund.

Request to cancel and refund.

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