If you're in the market for a regular external storage device, the Christofle Sphere from LaCie is not for you, mostly because at $490, it's crazily expensive for a device that offers just 1TB of storage space. But as a beautiful decorative piece for your desk that has built-in storage capability, the Sphere is an excellent find. This is a unique storage device that incorporates practical usage into a conversation piece.
Housed in a super-sleek silver-plated steel spherical chassis, the drive looks like a piece of jewelry. In fact, it's hand-crafted by Christofle, a well-known French maker of fine silverware. On the inside, however, it's a bus-powered USB 3.0 external drive that offered very fast performance in my testing. It also comes with a software suite that helps keep your data safe.
So if you're looking for a beautiful present for that special and sophisticated friend, the LaCie Christofle Sphere makes an excellent choice thanks to the combination of great looks and excellent performance. For most of the rest of us who just need an affordable storage device, any of these portable drives would make a much better deal.
|Drive type||Bus-powered external USB hard drive|
|Connector options||USB 3.0, USB 2.0|
|Dimensions (LWH)||5.3 inches by 5.3 inches by 4.3 inches|
|Special feature||Handmade sphere design with silver-plated steel chassis|
|OSes supported||Windows XP or later, Mac OS 10.6.8 or later|
|Software included||Genie Backup Free, LaCie Desktop Manager, and LaCie Private-Public|
Striking and unique design, simple setup
The Sphere takes the shape of, well, a sphere that's 5.3 inches in diameter. It has a flat base so it can stay put on a surface and hence stands 4.9 inches tall. Despite the metal casing, it weighs just 1.1 pounds. The surface of the Sphere is very shiny and polished to be extremely smooth. When put on a desk, it can also be used as a mirror in case you want to watch your back. It's also a fingerprint magnet, however.
Other than the base that's made of hard plastic, the rest of the drive's chassis is made of silver-plated steel. The drive must be hollow on the inside since it's lighter than it looks. It feels very solid, however, and makes no noise if you shake it.
On the bottom the drive comes with a recessed Micro-USB 3.0 port. You can use any standard USB 3.0 cable with this port but the Sphere comes included with a stylish 3-foot-long black cable. This is the only cable you need; the drive is bus-powered, meaning it draws juice from the USB port to power the internal drive. There's no need for a separate power adapter.
At the bottom front, the Sphere has one small blue light that shows the power status (on or off) and data activities (flashing). In all the drive is super-easy to set up; just plug it in a computer's USB port (preferably a USB 3.0 port) using the included cable and you're almost done.
Helpful software suite
The next step after plugging the drive in is formatting the drive. The Sphere comes with a built-in partition that contains its software suite. This partition can be read from any computer, be it a Windows computer or a Mac. You first run the LaCie Setup Assistant software, which will then walk you through five steps to prepare the Sphere, including formatting it and installing backup and security software. You can choose to format the drive in either NTFS (Windows), HFS+ (Mac ), or into multiple partitions with multiple file systems. It took me just a few minutes to get the Sphere up and running.