LaCie Mirror Portable Hard Drive review: Yes, storage drives can be beautiful
Both gorgeous and powerful, the LaCie Mirror Portable Hard Drive is the perfect storage device for anyone who can spare the cash, and may just be a little vain.
Covered completely in scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass, the LaCie Mirror Portable Hard Drive looks more like a thick compact or a fancy desk accessory than a storage device. But with 1TB of storage space and fast performance, the Mirror has more to rely on than just looks.
Not surprisingly, though, all of that beauty (no, I never thought I'd call an external drive beautiful) comes at a price. You'll shell out $280 for the privilege of backing up your data while checking your teeth after that poppy seed bagel. (Pricing and availability for the UK and Australia have not yet been announced; directly converted pricing would be about £183 or AU$346.) The mirrored surface also attracts dust and fingerprints by the ton and the amount of light it reflects can be annoying.
That's why I'd recommend the Mirror only for a select group, like if you have cash to burn, you place a premium on style or your favorite mythical character is Narcissus. It is a conversation piece, no doubt, but you'll be just as well served by a more practical, and more affordable, portable drive. For my top picks, check out this list.
Unique design, giftlike packaging
Similar to the Christofle Sphere that came out last year, the Mirror is LaCie's latest signature storage device that has a unique design, unlike storage devices you've seen.
LaCie says the Mirror is the result of its collaboration with French designer Pauline Deltour to demonstrate the idea that in this day and age, the data we have is a reflection of who we are. And taking this idea quite literally, LaCie covers the Mirror with Corning Gorilla Glass in all of its sides. This means when you hold it, not only you can see yourself, but folks around you can see themselves, too.
Other than that, the Mirror is a 2.5-inch-based standard portable drive that supports USB 3.0 (USB 2.0 compatible.) It's quite compact, measuring just 3.1 inches by 5 inches by 0.5-inch (80 x 128 x 13 mm), and weighs only half a pound (230g).
LaCie Mirror specs
|2.5-inch-based portable drive
|USB 3.0 port (USB 2.0 compatible)
|3.1 x 5 x 0.5 in (80 x 128 x 13 mm)
|Windows Vista or later / Mac OS X 10.5 or later
|LaCie Private-Public, LaCie Backup Assistant
|AES 256-bit software encryption
The Mirror comes in very nice, gift-ready packaging that opens up to show the drive neatly placed on top, you then can slide open the second layer to find the ebony wood base and a foot-long USB 3.0 cable. And there's more -- underneath there's a third layer that hold a carrying pouch and a cleaning cloth.
The moment I picked up the Mirror, I realized how the rest of the accessories would come in handy. The Mirror is a fingerprint and dirt super magnet. I couldn't hold it in my hands for a longer than a few seconds before getting it completely smudged. Basically unless you wear a glove, there's no way you can touch it without leaving marks on its surface.
That said, you'll definitely need the pouch to carry it around and the cloth to clean it once in a while. In the end, you might just want to leave it on your desk permanently, and this is what the wood base is for. Super shiny, the Mirror is something you want to look it rather than picking it up.
As a portable drive, the Mirror is bus-powered, meaning it doesn't require a separate power adapter. Instead, the USB connection will also draw power from the host computer. But this doesn't really matter much, considering you might not want to carry it around anyway, for the reasons mentioned above.
Easy-to-set-up, helpful software
When plugged into a computer right out of the box, the Mirror appears as a small FAT32 partition, just some 200MB, that contains the LaCie Setup Assistant software for both Windows and Mac. You need to run this software before you can use the drive's entire capacity.
The software walks you through a few steps of different options. These include making the Mirror work as two separate partitions, one of the current platform -- using either NTFS file system for Windows or HFS+ for Mac -- and the other for sharing cross-platform using the FAT32 file system. (Note that FAT32 file system can't hold files that are larger than 4GB each.) You can also choose to install its backup and security software.
Both the backup and security applications work well. On a Mac, you can use the drive with Time Machine, however. For data security, the drive supports AES 256-bit software encryption; just make sure you remember the password if you choose to use this feature. Otherwise, there's no way you can access the data.
Note that you can ignore the Mirror's software completely and manually format it using existing tools within Windows or OS X, which took just a few seconds in my trial. Basically, the drive works like any portable drive on the market.
The Mirror didn't blow me away with its performance, but it wasn't slow either. Via USB 3.0, it registered a sustained real-world speed of almost 100MBps for writing and slightly more than 110MBps for reading. These were on par with most hard-drive-based USB 3.0 portable drives on the market.
The drive also worked with USB 2.0 with the speed of around 30MBps for both reading and writing. Overall, it worked well in my tests with no issues whatsoever.
The LaCie Mirror Portable Hard Drive is a bit odd, to say the least. The design, though unique, adds no value to its functionality as a storage device, and its sheer amount of reflection might make you wonder if it was designed by a narcissist. During testing, I found the reflections rather distracting and at times annoying, especially when I left the drive in the sunlight.
What bothered me the most, however, was the fact that you can't hold the Mirror without making it dirty, which defeats its purpose of being a portable drive, something you carry around frequently.
In the end, whether or not you should buy the Mirror depends on if you find unique design worth the extra cash. As far as storage is concerned, note that you can easily get a portable drive with double the Mirror's capacity for less than $100. Nonetheless, once you've gotten your own, you'll find the Mirror a quite good portable drive that works as intended, both as extra storage space or as a backup destination.