Prior to writing this, I should make clear that this is not a sponsored post. I bought this device to organise my travel photographs and therefore thought it worthy of blogging a review.
I received my Monument photo archiving device recently. Having now had it around a week, I thought it might be useful to get out a few words about a device which could prove useful to many regular travellers.
The Monument markets itself as a complete photo storage solution and so when I first saw it as a sponsored post on Facebook months ago it caught my interest.
The device itself was in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign at the time and having funded one or two disappointing ‘innovations’ on the site before (I’m still waiting for BetterBack to correct my posture) I approached it with caution. Monument would, the developers claimed, not only allow me to store all of my photographs in one place but also automate the process AND organise my collection for me.
This sounded like just the sort of thing we needed. The last few years have seen both of our children born, a relocation to the Middle East followed by a move to China and countless holidays and adventures at home and overseas. All of the memories from these events were lying around forgotten on various old phones and iPads or hidden in drawers on old SD cards that were in various states of ill repair. A device that could pull all of this together for us AND organise it would be a God-send. I took out my credit card.
Like most things on Kickstarter, the initial backing is followed by a period of waiting and updating whilst the product is developed, tested and eventually distributed. From backing to receiving my device, about 10 months passed. This wasn’t helped by China Post who decided to extend my wait by keeping the device at customs and charging a tax bill that neither I, nor the people at Monument, expected. C’est la vie, the device had arrived.
Out of the box, the Monument is a good looking device. Slightly bigger than an Apple TV box, the majority of the plastic enclosure is left empty to accommodate storage for up to two external hard drives. The device itself has no in-built storage and so you can customise capacity based on needs and how much you’re willing to spend.
Set-up promised to be simple. Plug it in, download the app, upload photos. So that’s exactly what I did.
Once the device was plugged in and the app was downloaded on my iPad, the device prompted me to attach it to a TV or monitor for set-up using an HDMI cable. I returned to the box to grab the HDMI cable to do this but sadly one was not provided. Strange, given that the app says this is an essential piece of equipment for set-up.
Having interrupted the kids viewing of Paw Patrol to steal the HDMI cable from the back of our Mac Mini, I continued with the intial set-up. Having connected the device to my TV, the box informed me that a firmware update was required. Two files needed to be downloaded. The first was 3.2mb, the second 92mb. This is where I hit another bump in the road. The firmware download was slow. Really slow. I watched the bar for a while before giving up and turning the TV off to let it do its thing. 12 hours later, the firmware had been updated. (I should mention that during this period I performed numerous internet speed tests, all of which had my connection at around 90mb/s. Could it be that China have already blocked Monument on the mainland?)
Monument advertises a lot of amazing features. Automatic facial recognition, the ability to sync pictures automatically, a Timehop style ‘This day in history’ feature and, my personal favourite, a world map which geographically organises your photographs. This was what had me sold on the device. The world map in particular was what made me reach for my wallet.
Having finished the firmware update, the TV showed a generic ‘Monument’ screen saver and nothing else, but the app seemed ready to go so I selected some photographs from my iPad and uploaded them as a test batch. The upload, via Bluetooth, was quick and was followed by an ‘analysing photographs’ message before the pictures started to appear one by one on the app. Excellent. These pictures were now available on any device with the Monument app in Bluetooth range of the device.
Next I tried an old SD card that had been left forgotten in a camera for the last few years. Putting it into the SD card slot prompted a message on the app that asked if I’d like to upload the pictures and another 3000 pictures were on their way onto the device.
Once the pictures had been uploaded and analysed, I decided to try out the organisational features. To my knowledge there were now pictures from the UK, Kuwait, China, USA, Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia and lots more on the device. More than enough to make the world map feature a useful tool.
Here then is the major disappointment with Monument at the moment. The features just aren’t there. My world map shows zero locations. Zero faces have been recognised and short of knowing which camera was used to take the picture, there are no other ways of finding or organising pictures.
Looking into this further, it seems the device was shipped minus a lot of features with the promise that these would be added later through firmware and software updates. The developers website does have a calendar of when these will be rolled out but even features that have already been rolled out (including my eagerly anticipated world map) just don’t work on my device.
Currently it works very well as an alternative to storing pictures with a Cloud service and the ease with which you can transfer your pictures alone makes the Kickstarter price worthwhile. But I would be incredibly disappointed if the promised features didn’t appear sooner or later.
It’s nice to sit with my iPad scrolling through photographs from years ago that I had forgotten about and there’s a certain sense of satisfaction in having all of your pictures in one place. For that, I’m still pleased with my purchase.
I do wonder where the other features are though. Especially the ones that the developers say have already been rolled out.
- You want to transfer lots of photos onto a single device and can’t be bothered to do it yourself
- You want to access a photo collection from multiple devices
Don’t buy if:
- You want reliable extra features beyond simple photo storage
- You want to view pictures on your TV or monitor (promised but not currently available)
Edit: I took some extra photographs with my DSLR camera today and inserted the same SD card I had previously used into the device. Doing this, I discovered that the device proceeds to upload all 3000+ photographs again instead of just recognising the new ones.
11 comments on “Review: Monument”
I’d be very curious to see how you’d review the device a year later. Do you see improvements? Were they worth the wait? Do you still use it? Thanks for the insight into your experience.
How did you manage the setup in detail?
It’s NOT BEEN EASY to setup, and it’s not a foolproof procedure, I bought 2 units via Kick, and the first one died while Updating its own firmware, I was left instructions on how to reboot it by using an SD card, but no joy. it’s still a brick. I hesitate to even open the second one…
Setup took a couple of days because the firmware took so long to update. I remember the device would download the first, smaller update file and then restart only to get stuck partway through downloading the second file and then start the process again. As I say in the review, I had to leave the device on for the better part of 24 hours before it was able to update and start-up. The device is now in a drawer. Regular issues with updating meant that it was frequently out of action. When it worked it was a nice device but I found it to be inconsistent – it lacked ‘polish’. I had originally thought the update issue was to do with the internet in China but I also took the device to the UK and Qatar and had the same issues. With that said, I only have experience with my individual unit, which was purchased with the original batch on Kickstarter and hasn’t been used in 12 months so my experience with Monument overall is very, very limited.
Well, It’s now May 2020 and I happened to see there was a new Firmware on the Monument site, so I decided to go thru the trouble of downloading it (four times because I didn’t have the SD card formatted to EXFAT!) and then Being unable to run the burn software on the Mac, I had to do it again on a PC, till it was successful. All in all, I managed to boot the Bricked unit up with the new firmware and it came back to life!. It is now five hours later and my phone still has not finished uploading the 4000 photos to the 2T hard disk (Yes, EXFAT again)! So I have to let it do its slow thing, after which I hope it won’t take another five hours if I add a few more photos from my phone later! The Instructions are not specific with examples, and theres a lot of chance to make mistakes in setup, which is time consuming to change later, making one do a Factory reset if you cannot find the way to change the internal arrangements of album names… The hammer is nearby,,, but I will not give up till I’m 70…. which is in JULY!
Good Product, Perfomed as promised.
My home internet speed is about 80mbps and for roughtly 34,000 photos and 3,500 videos It took me about 3 full days of Storage transfer from 2 phones to WD HDD drive. Once this was done it took about 2 days to analyse the photos into the application and then another 1-2 days for entire backup into my Toshiba drive.
It’s only one time effort for large data for the first time when you connect. Once the legacy information has been transfered, it a cakewalk for everyday use.
My wife and I have checked it for about two weeks now and it’s performing as promised in the ad.
Please remember one thing is that when you buy the HDD from outisde ensure you buy the basic hard dirve (Unencrypted one) otherwise monument will not recognise the same. I bought the Toshiba Basic Canvio 4TB (unenrypted ) for the same reason and not the Toshiba Advanced Canvio (encrypted HDD)
The Photo Organization pack in the app. i.e, World Map, Camera (photos by source), Time Machine Just worked fine. However, the identification by people’s face is up there at 85%. Otherthan that I can blindly recommend this product to anybody with at condition that they have Good internet connection and Unecrypted HDD or SSD’s for storage and backup.
Thanks for the update! 3 years on and I’m thinking that maybe I should dust off the device and update the firmware to see what has changed. Do you know if there has been any hardware updates since the 2017 release?
I had come accross a lot of reviews complaining about the Firmware update taking alot of time. However, in my case it just took 10 minutes to update fully and the only probelm I faced was that my HDD Portable disk was encrypted and the device was failing to recognise it. I took the help of my friend (IT geek) to convert the HDD from encrypted to decrypted drive after which Monument was able to recognise my HDD and start moving my Photos and videos into it. Its been more than month now and everything seems to work perfectly fine. Please get in tough with the support team and they will provide you info about the Software update in term of Fimware. I guess if you plug it in the device should automatically pick it up. Also The remote access and upload function is working as promised which i feel is the most import thing that attract me for this purchase.
Hope this helps you
i got this from my borther and it lost power adapter,Can you please tell me what voltage and watt to use with divice ? Thak you
I was looking for in-depth review of Monument as the new V2 is currently open on kickstarter.
I actually store all pictures on a synology nas where I have 1.5Tb of pictures and video, with about 1Tb already organized by year.
All this is backed up on a network drive, then synced with the desktop so I can also backup this up on backblaze.
Today I am less into DSLR photography and more into daily snaps on the phone (already synced on a folder on the nas), but I use the nas mostly as a storage place. I am not enjoying memories as this device seems to propose.
Do you think this device would be beneficial ?
Thanks for your help 🙂