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LaCie Ethernet Disk Mini - Home Edition (500GB) review: LaCie Ethernet Disk Mini - Home Edition (500GB)

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The Disk Mini's connectivity consists of a Gigabit Ethernet port and both A- and B-type USB ports. The lack of a wireless connection may be disappointing to some, but you will get easier setup and faster transfer times as a result. Power users should note that the included USB port actually makes an Ethernet-over-USB type connection, instead of a standard USB connection to PCs. That means if you intend to use it as a USB drive accessible by a standalone hardware media player, the Disk Mini probably won't work.

We can't vouch for the LaCie Ethernet Disk Mini being 100 percent reliable when used remotely. In one instance, we set up the drive and left for the weekend, expecting to be able to pull some files off the drive remotely. Unfortunately, the drive hung while we were away and was inaccessible. Sure, it started working as soon as we manually reset it using the power button, but that's not helpful when you're miles away and trying to download a document you need. Similarly, we had enabled sharing on some folders for a friend to download several files from the drive. While sometimes it worked well and he was able to download at a reasonable 60kb/s (the maximum upload speed on the broadband connection we were using), other times the drive would appear "inaccessible"--which could be fixed by resetting it or sometimes it would just start working again. These examples probably exaggerate the Ethernet Disk Mini's unreliability--there were certainly times where it worked flawlessly--but we're not sure we'd ever rely on it if we absolutely needed to remotely access some files.

We had a much more reliable experience using the Ethernet Disk Mini on a local network. Especially satisfying was how well it worked streaming video with our Xbox 360. We were able to fast-forward and rewind without any problems, and we didn't experience any major hiccups. That's pretty impressive, as even streaming video from connected PCs isn't usually a problem-free experience.

CNET Labs' throughput tests revealed acceptable read/write performance. Among the NAS drives we've tested, the LaCie Ethernet Disk Mini placed somewhere in the middle. It wrote a 5GB folder of mixed files in 18 minutes, 21 seconds, and read back the same folder in 20 minutes, 10 seconds. The Ximeta NetDisk Portable completed the same tasks in 10 minutes, 49 seconds and 9 minutes, 53 seconds, respectively. Connected directly to our PC test bed via USB, the LaCie Ethernet Disk Mini wrote a 10GB test folder in 39 minutes, 24 seconds, and read back that same folder in 18 minutes, 36 seconds. Either connection is adequate for streaming multimedia content around the home, including high-definition video. The only limitation is your network speed.

Transfer speed tests (min:sec)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
5GB read test (min:sec)  
5GB write test (min:sec)  
Ximeta NetDisk Portable
HP Media Vault MV2020
LaCie Ethernet Disk Mini - Home Edition
Maxtor Shared Storage Plus
Western Digital NetCenter
Note: *Tested in RAID 0 mode **Tested in RAID 5 mode

Service and support
LaCie offers a three-year limited warranty on the LaCie Ethernet Disk Mini - Home Edition. Telephone support is offered Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PST, but note that it's a toll phone call. You can also create a support ticket on the LaCie Web site. We also tried browsing the Axentra online forums for info about the included software, but the Web site was extremely slow--not exactly promising when you're looking for help on a network-accessible hard drive.

Editor's note: The throughput testing of LaCie Ethernet Disk Mini - Home Edition was taken from our previous review of the LaCie Ethernet Disk Mini, and should be comparable. The LaCie Ethernet Disk Mini lacks many of the multimedia features of the LaCie Ethernet Disk Mini - Home Edition.

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