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LaCie Starck: External hard drives get trendy

LaCie releases two new external hard drives designed by Philippe Starck.

If you're into high-class fashion, LaCie has something for you. The company has come out with two new external hard drives by famed French designer Philippe Starck, who makes everything from furniture to clothes to luggage.

The front surface of the new LaCie desktop external hard drive responds to a finger's touch. Dong Ngo/CNET

Other than the fact that they offer extra storage, the LaCie Starck Desktop Hard Drive and the LaCie Starck Mobile Hard Drive come with a bit of fashion flair. Both are housed in a distinctive-looking, sturdy aluminum case that protects the internal drives from shocks.

While the LaCie Starck Mobile Hard Drive seems to be just a plain yet good-looking compact USB external hard drive, the LaCie Starck Desktop Hard Drive features a curvy front that responds to the touch of a finger. It also has a status LED light that shines an orange plus sign--Starck's signature symbol--on the surface.

There's not much you can do with the drive's novelty touch-sensitive surface, unfortunately. It can be programmed to launch an application, such as Firefox or Word, when you touch the front of the drive. But to do this, you will need to install LaCie Destkop Manager software, which runs all the time in the background. I found this sort of a waste for a function that's not really useful or necessary. But obviously fashion isn't always about necessity and functionality.

The LaCie Destkop Manager software will also help format the hard drive to work with a Windows, Mac, or Linux platform. The drives also come with LaCie Backup Assistant software, which can automatically back up the computer's data onto the drive.

Other than that, the LaCie Starck Desktop Hard Drive is very much like a brick. It also generates some sort of vibration during operation, reducing its suitability for sitting on top of your desk. It only comes with a USB port, which is rather disappointing as this is the slowest connection. Other desktop external hard drives often come with FireWire and eSATA connections.

LaCie's two new external hard drives are available now. The LaCie Starck Desktop Hard Drive costs $130 for the 1TB version and $250 for the 2TB version. The LaCie Starck Mobile Hard Drive comes in 320GB and 500GB versions, which cost $100 and $140, respectively.