Say it with us now: "finally!" We've been yearning for a true Drobo NAS drive ever since Data Robotics first introduced its "intelligent" storage robot back in the heyday that was 2007, and after coming darn close with the DroboShare, the company has finally produced a bona fide networked storage solution. The Drobo FS (for 'File Server') utilizes the same chassis as the Drobo S, and in terms of features, it can do everything that box can, too. What differentiates it, however, is that astoundingly gorgeous gigabit Ethernet jack on the rear, not to mention a new dual-core CPU, increased RAM, a revised Linux kernel and enough overall tweaks to make it perform 4x faster than the DroboShare. We spoke with Mark Fuccio, Senior Director of Products and Markets, who obliged when we dug for even more details.
For starters, this device will boast five bays, and users can mix, match, upgrade and swap drives at will, just like any other Drobo. It'll also support network backups of Macs and PCs, and while you won't find a Time Machine stamp, the Time Tamer app available in the DroboApps portal will enable support for Mac loyalists who insist on using that over Data Robotic's (likely superior) solution. It also ships with a BitTorrent client that keeps your transfers humming even when your PC is off, and it'll handle iTunes, UPnP and DLNA streaming to boot. Firmware upgrades will be handled over the network, and users can poke around for even more applications by visiting the company's website. One app that stood out to us, however, was one that'll be thrown in by the recently renamed Oxygen Cloud; in essence, this will allow users to turn their Drobo FS into "the cloud," enabling colleagues or kids to remotely access the Drobo as if it were some faraway, magical data drive connected to a mythical T3. Yeah, this definitely feels more like a corporate thing than anything else, but it's certainly something that you won't find on those "other" NAS drives. It should be noted, however, that the app will only support a single user for free -- if you're buying for a corporation or small business, you'll need to hit up Oxygen Cloud to procure a multi-user license.
Aside from nabbing SMB and AFP support, Mark told us that users could reasonably expect to see file transfers between 30MB/sec and 40MB/sec, but that's obviously subject to vary based on strain. As for pricing? Data Robotics told us that the new Drobo FS will be on sale globally today through the typical channels (Amazon, CDW, B&H Photo, Dell and NewEgg), with the empty unit selling for $699. A 4.5TB model (1.5TB x 3) will go for $999, while a 7.5TB version (5 x 1.5TB) lists for $1,149 and a 10TB edition (2TB x 5) for $1,449. Or you could just enter to win one here. Oh, and as for that DroboShare we mentioned earlier? It's being phased out with the introduction of the Drobo FS, so if you're jonesing for one, you might want to get that order placed.