LaCie's latest Rugged Thunderbolt All-Terrain is the new height among portable drives, in terms of both design and performance.
The storage device has two layers of casing to protect it against dust, water, and shocks -- even when in operation -- and now has a built-in Thunderbolt cable that's well hidden along its sides. In my testing, the solid-state drive (SSD) version proved to be the fastest portable drive on the market.
The only drawback of the drive is its hefty price: about $300 (which converts to £175/AU$320) and $500 (£290/AU$535) for 250GB and 500GB, respectively, for the SSD version. There's also a hard-drive-based version that currently goes for $220 (£130/AU$235) and $300 (£175/AU$320) for 1TB and 2TB, respectively, that isn't as fast as the SSD-based version. But if you can afford that, and want something super-fast to edit your HD content, you'll find the new drive second to none.
Pricing in other markets is not available at the time of review. For more options, however, check out the alternatives in this top list of best portable drives on the market.
Innovative all-terrain protection design
The Rugged Thunderbolt All-Terrain is the successor to the Rugged USB 3.0 Thunderbolt series. While the similar name might be confusing, the new drive's design is distinctively different from its predecessor's.
Similar to the previous model, the new Rugged Thunderbolt comes with two layers of protection. The outer layer is a removable bright-orange rubber protective case that protects the edges to keep the drive safe from shocks and drops. This case now has a watertight cover that seals the drive's USB 3.0 port from water or dust. When you use the drive with a Thunderbolt port, however, this cover can be put back in its place, meaning that the drive is protected even when it's in operation.
|Drive type||External Thunderbolt portable|
|Connector options||Thunderbolt, USB 3.0, USB 2.0 |
|Available capacities||250GB (SSD), 500GB (SSD), 1TB (HDD), 2TB (HDD) |
|Product dimensions|| |
3.5 x 5.5 x 1 in (89 x 140 x 24 mm)
HHD version: 12.3oz (350g) | SSD version: 8.8oz (280g)
|Capacity of test unit||500GB (SSD)|
|OSes supported||Mac OS X 10.6.8 or later, Windows 7 or later |
Along the sides of this outer casing runs a groove in which the drive's built-in Thunderbolt cable is hidden. This cable is permanently attached to the drive so there's no Thunderbolt port on the drive and it doesn't require a separate Thunderbolt cable to work. To keep your desk from cluttering, you actually pull just part of the cable out, instead of all the way, to plug it into the host computer.
I find this built-in cable great in terms of design, and similar to that of the WD My Passport Pro, which doesn't support USB 3.0 or have a protective outer casing.
When the outer casing is removed, you'll find the rugged aluminum chassis. LaCie says this layer further keeps the internal storage safe from drops and being crushed in case the drive is run over by a car or even a truck.