Drobo Mini Review

TrulyNet has released a review of another not-quite-NAS device, the Drobo Mini.  The Drobo Mini is a small, lightweight 4-bay Thunderbolt/USB 3.0 storage array.

According to TrulyNet, the biggest upside of the Drobo Mini is the form factor, as it is quite a bit smaller than most similar external storage solutions:

The upside: it is the smallest unit we've seen, and looks great. But the footprint might not matter much for a unit that is going to be largely stationary and likely be stashed away. Unlike the Drobo FS, there is no networking built-in, no ethernet or wireless options. The Drobo Mini isn't a NAS- a network attached storage device- so it isn't meant for use in an environment with many computers. Of course, you can setup file sharing, but you'll have to leave a computer on and connected.

TrulyNet

However, aside from the relatively slick form factor, the Drobo Mini appears to be a mixed bag, especially at the price.

There are three major factors to consider: speed, ease of use, and price. On the first factor, we saw some mixed results. Certainly, Thunderbolt is quick, and USB 3.0 can be several times faster than USB 2.0- but even with 7200 RPM hard drives and no RAID options, the Drobo Mini wasn't lightning-fast. We saw sustained speeds of between 150-200 MB on Thunderbolt, with a bit less over USB 3, similar for both reads and writes. This isn't bad, but won't set any records and single-drive options will be faster, generally. On the second factor, setup was pretty straightforward- the software was simple, and the utilities well-explained. It's not perfect- there are some confusing parts for novice users- but looks nice and runs well. One note on the SSD: we weren't able to take advantage of this option, as the unit supports only a few, so make sure you check the (fairly short) list first.

TrulyNet

In short, the Drobo Mini looks like a good deal if you're not too worried about price and might be a bit low on space to put the device itself.