The Good The Drobo Mini is compact, can host four drives with dynamic storage scalability and protection, and supports both Thunderbolt and USB 3.0, and its drive bay design is excellent.
The Bad The Drobo Mini is very expensive, it's comparatively slow, hot, and noisy, it takes a long time to start up, and overall it's cumbersome to use.
The Bottom Line The esoteric Drobo Mini seems to strive to be unique mostly for the sake of uniqueness, and offers very little, if at all, in terms of usability considering its crazily high cost.
An underperforming and overpriced storage device
The Drobo Mini is like no other Thunderbolt storage device I've reviewed before. For one, it's very compact, yet its four drive bays mean it can host up to four 2.5-inch hard drives. Secondly, it's the first multiple-bay Thunderbolt storage device that also supports USB 3.0, and the first Thunderbolt device I've seen that offers a ceiling storage space of up to 16TB, despite having just 4TB of actual raw storage at most, thanks to Drobo's flexible BeyondRAID setup.
And finally, it's got a slew of unique little features including an mSATA drive bay, a built-in emergency battery, a cool magnetic drive bay door, and many colorful LED status lights. There's also a little bit of money-saving: like most recent Thunderbolt storage devices, the Drobo Mini comes with the necessary Thunderbolt cable included.
On the down side, at the time of the review, the Drobo Mini bears a crazy price tag of $650 with no storage included; it takes a long time to start up; and it's noisier than most Thunderbolt devices I've worked with. In terms of performance, when hosting four high-speed 2.5-inch hard drives, the drive fell short in my testing when compared with its peers, using both Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 connection types.