"Was Nervous... Now Happy."4.5 starson by douganmilne
Pros: Fast, Quiet, No-Brainer
Cons: would like an activity light + activity alert in the Drobo Dashboard (DataRobotics... if you're listening...?)
Summary: I wrote this review in the Drobo 4tb section... but have moved it here.
I pre-ordered the Drobo II in Zurich a couple weeks ago, and paid about $650 for it. I was nervous... actually very nervous.... because the reviews for the 1st Gen Drobo were a bit Hit-or-Miss.... and the reviews for the 2nd Gen were spotty as well. I read and re-read the CNET review.... hoping there would be a third iteration to it that said, "despite our 1st and 2nd attempts with the Drobo... our 3rd attempt reveals that it is the most amazing, lightning-fast, whisper-quiet, energy-efficient, super-secure piece of hardware we have ever tested".
That review never came.... and I was constantly bothered that they hadn't reviewed the Drobo with a Mac / OS X.
I am a storage junkie, and so this is my Drobo experience (thus far) in so many words:
With iMac 2.8Ghz, 4gb RAM, OS X 10.5.5 - ONLY TESTED FIREWIRE 800 - Drobo II with 4tb (4 x 1tb) Seagate Barracuda ES.2
Transfer speeds are not lightning-fast..... but they are certainly AS Fast - if not faster - than the CNET tests. I transfered 100gb of small data files and music, with an average transfer/write speed of 260Mbps. I then transfered 1tb of larger files with an average write speed of 310Mbps. I can't be certain why there is such a significant difference here... but I think it has to do with the file structures.
In Comparison.... I have a 2Tb WD drive that runs at roughly the same speed.
Frankly... to me... this is fast enough. And, the Drobo feels more stable than the WD, as it doesn't go to sleep after 5 minutes, and then completely freeze my operations for the 3 minutes it requires to wake itself up.
I have bad ears from a childhood and adult/childhood spent on/in/around motorcycles. But, I swear.... I cannot here the Drobo from 2ft away. In comparison, I can hear my WD 2tb from up-to 10 feet away. The Drobo is Whisper Quiet.
Took a total of about 7 minutes, once I had inserted the drives (literally, like CNET says... "just like putting a CD into a CD-ROM drive"..... there are no cartridges to assemble!!!) and installed the Drobo Dashboard. The Software tells you that it needs to "initialize" the drives, and then within a couple minutes (maybe 3-4), you have the Drobo sitting on the left of your finder window. Really Easy.
I have moved my iTunes folder over to the Drobo, and I am streaming from my iMac in the den (where the Drobo resides), to my AppleTV in the living room. Strage is currently at 1.9tb. No hiccups... perfect stream.
This is the only area where I believe some of the other manufacturers get higher marks for "Quality". The Drobo looks sweet...!! Don't get me wrong... it looks awesome sitting next to my computer and speakers, and if I could upload a photo to this review, I would. But, my only complaint is the general fit+finish doesn't quite have the same feel as the Netgear, or Lacie..... probably more on par with Western Digital. The drive "trays" feel thin and plastiquey...... and the front panel is a little lightweight. Not a Deal-Breaker.
I don't know how it works. I don't really wanna know how it works. In fact... I don't really care how it works. But, it does.... and it works well. Its fast enough that I would never have any complaints... quiet enough that I can't hear it.... and smart enough that I know not to ask questions. I realize its not RAID..... but it still feels safe, and frankly, it should after eating 1.3 of my Terabytes with its backup function.
Great Product, Highly Recommended for media freaks and storage geeks who aren't geeky enough to know better.