Drobo is an exciting brand. Along with Netgear's X-RAID products like the ReadyNAS and NVX, Drobo's 'BeyondRAID' technology makes it the only other attached storage line which can dynamically swap in and out drives of any size, automatically resize the total storage capacity and not lose any data (shocking that's it's only two, I know). The problem was, BeyondRAID aside, Drobos were always a bit basic. Until now...
After three years on the market parent company US startup Data Robotics has at last released a NAS version giving Netgear some serious competition. Dubbed the 'Drobo FS' (File Server), it adds that all important gigabit Ethernet port to centralise content on your network. Until now, such a solution had required an additional 'DroboShare' box (now to be phased out) which plugged into a Drobo, sat underneath and looked - well, rather ridiculous.
Joining the grown up NAS sector also means the FS has learnt new (and essential) tricks such as network backup (PC and Mac), iTunes server support, UPnP and DLNA streaming, has a native bittorent client for scheduled downloading and offers remote access via its 'Oxygen Cloud' sharing software. Powering all this is a new dual core CPU, bolstered RAM and an upgraded Linux kernel all of which lead to claims of 30-40MB per second file transfers.
This still doesn't come close to the near maxed out 105MB per second rates we achieved with the Netgear NVX, but then again the Drobo FS will support up to five drives compared to the NVX's four. It also also - arguably - the better looking of the two units, though there is no word on operational noise (the NVX's Achilles heel is it sounds like a Jumbo Jet taking off).
Pricing for the Drobo FS will come in at NVX levels with an unpopulated unit selling for $699 (£459). 4.5TB (3x 1.5TB), 7.5TB (5x 1.5TB) and 10TB (5 x 2TB) pre-populated editions will also be made immediately available for $999, $1,149 and $1,449 respectively.
Welcome to the big leagues Drobo - and about time. As for everyone else not called Drobo or Netgear, please feel free to start panicking.