LaCie RuggedKey review: LaCie RuggedKey

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
  • Overall: 8.1
  • Setup and ease of use: 9.0
  • Features: 9.0
  • Performance: 7.0
  • Service and support: 8.0

Average User Rating

4.5 stars 10 user reviews
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good The water- and drop-resistant LaCie RuggedKey thumbdrive offers fast USB 3.0 speed and a practical keyring design.

The Bad The LaCie RuggedKey doesn't float, caps at only 32GB, and is relatively expensive.

The Bottom Line The LaCie RuggedKey is one of the best portable, ultracompact, storage devices on the market.

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Though key-fob storage devices have been available ever since the first thumbdrives were made years ago, LaCie is now turning this design into a new novelty with the RuggedKey.

This new little flash-based storage device is basically a regular USB thumbdrive that is shaped like a key and comes with a keyring. The RuggedKey, however, differentiates itself from the rest of the crowd by being the second I've reviewed that supports USB 3.0 (the first being the Lexar Triton), and coming with an easily removable rubber cover that adds both style and high-level protection.

In my testing, the RuggedKey was fast, too, which is always the most important thing when it comes to a storage device. The RuggedKey also comes with a good bundle of software utilities, making it an excellent compact storage device despite the relatively high cost of $40 for 16GB (or $70 for 32GB). If you want something of similar physical size and performance but with up to 64GB of storage space, I also recommend the Lexar Triton.

Design and features

Drive type USB thumbdrive
Connector options USB 3.0, USB 2.0
Size (WHD) 2.09 x 1.06 x 0.83 in.
Weight 1.06 oz
Available capacities 16GB, 32GB
Capacity of test unit 16GB
OSes supported Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 / Mac OS X 10.6 or later (Software works with Intel Mac only)
Software included LaCie Private-Public; Backup software; one-to-one storage ratio with Wuala Secure Online Storage (1-year subscription)

One of the reasons I am not really a fan of keyfob USB thumbdrives is the risk that mine would scratch other devices, such as a smartphone, when I keep them together in my pocket. Or the USB drive itself would be scratched up by the real keys on the ring. With the LaCie RuggedKey drive, that's not a worry anymore, thanks to its thick protective case.

When in use, this case, made of a tough, rubbery material, turns the drive into a cylindrical object about the size of a stick of lip balm that's both good-looking and rugged. The case prevents dust and water from contacting the drive's USB head and keeps the thumbdrive inside safe from outside impacts.

In my trials, the drive easily survived multiple drops after I tossed it straight up in the air. LaCie says that the RuggedKey has been tested and has survived drops from 100 meters (about 330 feet), which I didn't find surprising after spending some time with the drive. What I didn't expect, however, is that the case doesn't help the drive stay afloat. I put it in a bathtub and it sank pretty fast. The drive on the inside was nice and dry, though.

Note that generally, USB thumbdrives can handle water submersion very well, even when they have no protective case; they'll often work again as long as you wait till they are completely drive before plugging them into a computer, but a little extra protection doesn't hurt, either.

The LaCie Private-Public software takes a long time to create a new secure partition, despite its short estimate.
The LaCie Private-Public software takes a long time to create a new secure partition, despite its short estimate. Screenshot by Dong Ngo/CNET

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Weight 1.1 oz
  • Storage Capacity 32 GB
About The Author

CNET editor Dong Ngo has been involved with technology since 2000, starting with testing gadgets and writing code for CNET Labs' benchmarks. He now manages CNET San Francisco Labs, reviews networking and storage products, and also writes about other topics from online security to new gadgets and how technology impacts the life of people around the world.