Drobo Mini goes mobile with intelligent storage, adds Thunderbolt

The average computer user's storage concerns are pretty moot, but professionals who deal with photos and video live and die by it. Cue Drobo, a company that doesn't make hard drives, but rather intelligent multi-drive storage solutions. We got to see the Mini, Drobo's first portable device aimed at everyday users.

Enter The Drobo Mini

The company aims to provide data protection outside of the professional market and the Mini, the new device announced today, wants to be the first Drobo drive manager to do it.

It's got four slots to slip in 2.5" drives, each one sitting in a corner with an LED display wrapping around it. Yep, that device above is actually holding four hard drives, like so:

Drobo-Mini-layout.jpg

This display uses the device's intelligence to let users know when the drive is full, which is indicated by the light you can see ringing the front of the device in the image above. It operates on the classic stoplight philosophy: green means you're good to go, yellow mean it's filling up and red's a warning that something's wrong or that it's full. Blinking red is an indicator of drive failure, which, while never good news, is good to know.

At the bottom of the Mini is a small bar that shows the free space on all of the drives combined. It fills slowly with a blue glow, from left to right, the way an energy bar in a video game might. The smaller the bar is, the more space that's left to play with.

It's got both Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 slots, but what sets it apart from the other Drobo offerings is its portability. The Mini is delightfully small considering the amount of data it can hold. Light on its own, too: I can easily hold it in one hand, and 2.5" drives aren't too heavy to begin with.

It's also a dual-state drive, allowing users to open a small "trapdoor" on the bottom to pop in a solid-state drive that can help it run faster. It works on the fly, letting users pop hard drives in and out as needed. It's as simple as pushing one in until it clicks into place, then you're ready to store away to your heart's content.

The Mini is $599 without any storage in it, and any sort of drive is compatible, so long as it's 2.5". It's obviously not as small as a regular external hard drive, but it's a heck of lot easier than carrying four of them with you. Drobo is also rolling out another storage bank, the Drobo 5D, which is much, much bigger: it's got 5 bays that can hold high capacity 3.5" drives. It's not portable, though, and it starts at $799 without drives. You can learn more about it here.

Via Drobo Mini

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