You asked for it – you got it. No this isn’t an old Toyota commercial. It’s news that Drobo has gone Firewire.
Initial reactions from photographers (including this one) evaluating the USB Drobo were that Drobo made for a great backup device. I use the USB Drobo for my Aperture Vault and have done so for months with not one issue or problem. I plan to keep it that way.
But in my original tests, the USB device was simply too slow to be a primary drive. Enter the Firewire 800 Drobo. As of this morning, Data Robotics is shipping the Firewire Drobo and boy it’s fast. The new Firewire Drobo is so fast that I plan to get another one to use as my primary storage.
Why? We did our own tests with a Beta unit in the studio for the better part of the last week. Reads AND writes were AT LEAST two times faster than before. In fact, because of internal improvements to the Drobo, even USB read/write times are faster. (You can still hook the drobo to your computer using USB.)
In several cases we found Drobo read/write times to be much faster than promised in the company’s marketing materials. When I questioned them about this, an employee said their marketing department liked to be conservative when quoting such numbers. A refreshing change I must say!
I’d like to note that we didn’t use traditional benchmarking software for these tests. In our opinion, such software doesn’t always give a clear picture of the device performance. So we copied real files that most photographers would copy. We copied RAW, PSD, TIF and JPEG files and got great results.
This new-found speed is no big deal for those of us who just wanted a backup solution. But photographers who need a fast primary drive that also offers the safety and security of redundant data can now go to the Firewire Drobo.
I’d also like to point out that while I have no fancy test equipment, I believe the new Firewire Drobo is quieter than the USB model. I never thought the USB model was too noisy. Like all hard drives, when working hard on a hot day, it’s fans would spin up. Some people (particularly those with first generation USB Drobos) thought the machine too noisy. The Firewire Drobo even makes less noise.
And now for the cool part. Data Robotics has improved the Drobo in many ways. And they have kept the price point at under $500.
Pricing is as follows:
Drobo with FireWire800 and USB 2.0 (2nd Gen)
Drobo + 2x 1TB drives: $899
Drobo + 4x1TB drives: $1299
For those of you who simply need a backup solution, the original Drobo USB 2.0 Only (1st Gen) is a great deal:
Drobo (1st Gen): $349
Drobo (1st Gen) + 2x 1TB drives: $749
Drobo (1st Gen) + 4x 1TB drives: $1075
NOTE: They have limited supplies of the USB model.
While some folks who don’t understand all the technology that goes into a Drobo, compare the Firewire Drobo to the Netgear ReadyNAS NV+ with comparable capacity. The Drobo is more than twice as fast and is much less than half the price. Likewise, when compared with the LaCie Biggest Quadra, the Drobo is a bit slower but still almost half the price.
For more information visit www.drobo.com.
Please note that for two weeks Drobo was a sponsor of the TWIP podcast. At this time Drobo is NOT a TWIP sponsor.