LaCie FastKey review: LaCie FastKey

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The Good The LaCie FastKey USB flash drive is the most compact and light USB 3.0 portable drive on the market. It offers superfast performance, up to 120GB of storage, and AES 256-bit encryption, and comes in a sturdy and stylish casing. The drive also includes software that helps prepare it for either PCs or Macs.

The Bad The FastKey is expensive and, while compact for an external drive, bulky as a thumbdrive. Its USB lid is completely detachable and therefore could be easily misplaced.

The Bottom Line The LaCie FastKey USB flash drive is an excellent portable storage solution for those who can afford its hefty price tag.

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7.7 Overall
  • Design 9
  • Features 7
  • Performance 8
  • Support 6

About the size of a large thumb drive, the LaCie FastKey USB flash drive is one of a kind. The drive is essentially a USB 3.0 portable drive that's based on solid-state storage. For this reason, it offers superfast performance and, unfortunately, also comes with a superhefty price tag of $475 for the 120GB version ($250 for the 60GB version, $150 for the 30GB versions).

If you can afford it, however, it will be worth it. Apart from the stellar performance, it also comes with a sturdy, compact design and AES 256-bit encryption to keep your data safe.

Design and features

Drive type Compact external USB portable drive
Connector options USB 3.0, USB 2.0
Size (WHD) 1.1x0.4x4.1 inches
Weight 1.16 oz
Available capacities 30GB, 60GB, 120GB
Capacity of test unit 120GB
OSes supported Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 / Mac OS X 10.5 or later (Mac Intel only software)
Software included LaCie Private-Public; LaCie Setup Assistant; 4GB Wuala Secure Online Storage (2-year subscription)

It's a little hard to categorize the LaCie FastKey USB flash drive. This is because it's way too small to be a portable drive, like the Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex or the WD My Passport, and at the same time slightly too big, both in terms of physical size and capacity, to be a thumbdrive. Nonetheless, it sure makes one of the coolest portable storage devices you've seen.

The device has a sturdy aluminum casing with one end that can be pulled out to reveal the USB 3.0 head. While this USB head's lid can stay secure when snapped on, it's completely detached when the drive is in use and therefore can go missing easily. Though you can snap it on the other end of the drive while it's connected to a computer, this is only possible when you don't use the included security key string that's designed to be hooked a little hole also at that end.

The FastKey works with both USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports, just like any thumbdrive or portable drive. All you have to do is plug it in and the port will provide both power and data connectivity. We noticed, however, as the drive is rather bulky and long compared with other thumbdrives, you might have trouble plugging it into an obscure USB port.

LaCie Setup Assistant provides a convenient way to format the drive using the file system of your choice.

Unlike other portable drives that are normally preformatted in NTFS (Windows), HFS+ (Mac), or FAT32 (for both Windows and Mac, with file size limited to 4GB or less), out of the box the FastKey comes with a temporary partition that contains the LaCie Setup Assistant software. The software prompts you to run it the first time you plug the drive into a computer and offers to format the drive into either NTFS or HFS+.

Once you have picked, the software quickly formats the drive and makes all of its capacity available to the platform of your choice. Note that you'll need to make sure you pick the right one, as the formatting process will erase the temporary partition, along with the LaCie Setup Assistant. If you do change your mind later, you'll need to do the formatting manually, but that's relatively easy.

Once the initial formatting is done--it took just a few seconds in our case--a new partition (or drive) called "La-Public" is created for you to use. This partition contains all the software applications that LaCie bundles with the device.

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