LaCie Fuel review: Fast and capable, but not new

The app automatically categorizes content stored on the Fuel into five category including Videos, Photos, Music, Documents and Recent, which shows content that has been recently played. In addition, you can also quickly search for what you want. In my trial, the app worked very well and was smooth and responsive. It took a very short time for an HD movie to start playing.

That's if the movie is supported by the mobile device natively. As with the Wireless Plus, as well as other mobile storage devices, except for video content made specifically for the mobile platform, I couldn't stream anything else using the Seagate Media mobile app, including popular formats for HD videos, such as Matroska and Xvid. To stream unsupported media types, you need to use third-party apps, and might have to first download the file to the mobile device before you can play it back, which would defeat the purpose of the Fuel, which is as storage expansion.

You can instruct the device to operate in the Eco mode, which selectively turns off certain services to increase its battery life.
You can instruct the device to operate in the Eco mode, which selectively turns off certain services to increase its battery life. Screenshot by Dong Ngo/CNET

Smart power, backup and Internet sharing supported
The Fuel is slated to offer as much as 10 hours of battery life, but only if you use its smart power feature. Using the app, you can make the device work in the Eco mode, basically turning off features that are useful mostly when used at home, including the ability to work as a mini NAS server -- sharing file via the SAMBA protocol to connected computers -- and the support for DLNA streaming.

On the go, the Fuel is most likely used via the Seagate Mobile app, which works well. Apart from hosting content for playing back, you can also back up user-generated content, such as videos and photos shot by your iPad or iPhone, to it. And when you're at a hotel, the Fuel can also connect to other Wi-Fi networks to bring Internet access to devices connected to its own Wi-Fi network. In my trial, it can connect to essentially any Wi-Fi network, including those that require a password or log-in. This feature makes it a great companion that will help save money when you're staying at a hotel where Wi-Fi access is charged per connected client.

Fast performance
At heart, the Fuel is a USB 3.0 portable drive, and when used as one, it was versatile. The device is preformatted in exFAT file system and that means it works with both Mac and Windows machine right out of the box with no restriction on file size.

In my testing it was also very fast, offering some 105MBps for writing and 107MBps for reading, when used with USB 3.0. This weren't the highest numbers I've seen but on par with other USB portable drives.

CNET Labs external hard drive USB 3.0 performances Scores
(In MPB per second; longer bars indicate better performance)
Read  
Write  
Toshiba Canvio Slim II
118.49 
118.8 
Seagate Slim
111.49 
110.4 
Seagate Wireless Plus
109.75 
109.5 
WD My Passport Slim
107.89 
107.7 
LaCie Fuel
106.89 
104.7 
Corsair Voyager Air
107.45 
104.6 

When used with USB 2.0, it was also very fast at 28MBps for writing and 33MBps for reading, topping the chart.

CNET Labs USB 2.0 external hard drive performance scores
(In MB per second; longer bars indicate better performance)
Read  
Write  
LaCie Fuel
33.47 
28.4 
Corsair Voyager Air
32.67 
26.5 
Patriot Aero
32.5 
26.4 
Seagate Wireless Plus
31.77 
28.3 
G-Technology G-Connect
31.3 
30.9 
Kingston Wi-Drive
17.8 
9.1 

This means you can quickly load a lot of content on to the Fuel before your long road trip. As a mobile storage device, the device indeed offered very long battery life, roughly 10 hours in my trial. This varies, however, depending on how much you use it and with how many devices. I tried it with just an iPad and an iPhone at the same time.

Conclusion
The LaCie Fuel doesn't do anything to really outdo the Wireless Plus but, still, it makes a great alternative. For example, if you like the layout of the Seagate Media app -- which you should since it's about the best among apps for mobile storage devices -- but prefer something of a more radical design, the Fuel will fit the bill perfectly.

However, if you're already happy with your Wireless Plus or the Corsair Voyager Air , there's no need to make any changes at all.

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Total Storage Capacity 1 TB
  • Data Link Protocol IEEE 802.11b
    IEEE 802.11g
    IEEE 802.11n
    SuperSpeed USB 3.0
  • Compatibility Android
    Apple iOS
    Mac
    PC