We are big proponents of backing up data in our household. So much so, that we have not one, but two Drobos for our storage purposes. We have a first generation, USB 2.0 Drobo and a second generation, Firewire Drobo. Both devices have been invaluable additions to our household.

We were very excited to be apart of the announcement of the next generation of Drobos: the Drobo 5D and the Drobo Mini.

In a press release from Drobo dated today, June 21, 2012, Drobo stated the Drobo 5D and Drobo mini “are designed to accelerate workflows for creative professionals managing data-intensive files; home media enthusiasts looking to consolidate and accelerate video, photo, and music files; and small businesses that need fast, portable backup to protect large amounts of data..”

While we have yet to test the actual product, the specs on the Drobo 5D and Drobo Mini are exciting on their own. The greatest improvement on these newest Drobo’s is the integration of Thunderbolt, which is an industry first for storage arrays.

First, I’ll take a look at the Drobo 5D.

The Drobo 5D is built on the BeyondRAID technology with single or dual-drive redundancy. Drives are hot-swappable and users can incorporate up to five (5) SATA I/II/III hard disk drives or solid state drives, which are sold separately, and one (1) mSATA solid state drive in the Drobo Accelerator Bay. For the first time, Drobo has included a Thunderbolt connection, two actually, and one USB 3.0 port. Drobo 5D also includes a battery to protect against power failures. Quite possibly the best part about the next generation of Drobos is that the Drobo 5D is backwards compatible with any computer running compatible versions of Mac OS X or Windows.

Now for the Drobo Mini.

It’s every thing in the Drobo 5D, but the size of a deli sandwich – according to Drobo’s spec sheet. The actual dimensions are:

  • Width 7.3 inches
  • Height 1.8 inches
  • Depth 7.1 inches
  • Weight 2.2 pounds (without hard drives, power supply or packaging)

The Drobo Mini is essentially everything the Drobo 5D is, but in a smaller, more compact, more portable package. Drobo Mini includes two Thunderbolt ports and one USB 3.0 port, just like its big brother and supports Windows and Mac, also like the 5D. The biggest difference between the two, other than size, of course, is that Drobo Mini utilizes 2.5″ hard disk drives or solid state drives.

Being a Drobo household, we are very excited about these new developments. If you would like to see the specs sheets or the press release, visit www.drobo.com and be sure to follow them on Twitter (@drobo). Pricing for these products is expected to start around $650 and a Thunderbolt cable should be included.

The only drawback I can really see to these devices is the expense. To start a Drobo from scratch, one must buy the Drobo device and then the drives on which to store the data. The current models start at $399 for professional use. The next gen Drobos have a considerable increase in their price. The reasoning is more than likely due to the inclusion of the SSD support, Thunderbolt and  USB 3.0 integration. Even though the drives have never been included with the purchase of a Drobo, the $650 price tag for the 5D and the $850 price tag for the Drobo Mini, will only increase when users make the purchases of the drives to complete the array. That being said, the price is fair when you consider the peace of mind a redundant back-up brings to the table and the speed of data transfer that the Thunderbolt, USB 3.0 and SSD support combination offer with the newest additions to the Drobo family.

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