Rugged All-Terrain Hard Drive

Designer Neil Poulton may have been drinking Tango when he dreamt up the look for LaCie’s latest – a USB and FireWire hard drive aimed at people on the go. The rubber bumper that protects the drive’s aluminium case is certainly striking; some may even say gaudy. Looks aside, the device is well specified in terms of connectivity. There are sockets for both FireWire 400 and 800, alongside a mini connector for USB 2.0, and it draws power from the bus so you don’t need to worry about finding a mains socket.

The emphasis is on shock resistance, ever a concern with portable hard drives, and LaCie quotes a maximum drop height of 90cm with the drive powered down. (It’s not recommended that you drop the drive while in use.) For all that it’s ruggedised, the aluminium casing feels quite flimsy and could easily be dented, so care should still be taken when stowing it. Its light weight is a bonus for those lugging a laptop. At 250g, it doesn’t add much of a strain to the shoulder strap and compact dimensions of 90 x 25.4 x 145mm mean it shouldn’t be hard to find space in the bag.

The drive is a 5,400rpm performer – not speedy enough for heavy-duty multimedia work, but fine for backing up files. To help speed things along, though, there’s an 8MB cache. A utilities CD is bundled and features LaCie’s 1-Click Backup as well as SilverKeeper backup utilities for OS X and OS 9. The plug-and-play drive pops up on the desktop within about a second of connection and is quite fast when using FireWire 800 – a 30GB folder takes around a minute to prepare for copying, and is written in approximately 23 minutes.

There are plenty of other portable hard drives on the market, some of them ruggedised, but few with triple interfaces. If you need the flexibility of FireWire 400, 800 and USB 2.0 all from one unit, the LaCie is worth a look.

OUR VERDICT

The LaCie Rugged is a convenient backup device and its FireWire 800 connectivity is welcome. The unit is light, although the aluminium casing could be dented if knocked. As for the eye-watering colour of its rubber sheath, your aesthetic sensibilities will decide on whether the drive deserves a place by your laptop.

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