LaCie Porsche Mobile Hard Drive
If you appreciate minimalist modern design, you'll like the look of LaCie's F.A. Porsche-styled pocket Mobile Hard Drive. We did, though not as much as we enjoyed the drive's compact size, lightness, and quick USB 2.0 performance. FireWire performance on the dual-bus model we tested wasn't as inspiring, but overall, the Mobile Hard Drive is a speedy, handsome product.
The titanium-hued LaCie Mobile Hard Drive measures a hair more than 5 inches long, 3 inches wide, and a superthin 0.65 inch tall including the feet. The drive's sleek lines are broken only by a power/activity light on the front and USB, FireWire, and AC ports on the black-colored back panel. Our only gripe with the design is minor: the rubber feet should grip better. Weighing just less than seven ounces, the hard drive is a bit too easy to jostle about on the smooth surface of a desk. On the other hand, and far more importantly, the lightweight unit is a joy to carry around, though a protective carrying case would be handy.
Installing the LaCie Mobile Hard Drive is as simple as plugging it in to the USB 1.1 or 2.0 or FireWire bus; no AC adapter is required if your bus provides power, as most do. If the unit doesn't draw sufficient power from the USB cable, you can plug in the included power-sharing cable to a second USB port on your computer to draw power from the USB bus. The 100GB dual-bus unit we tested (the drive is also available in USB- and FireWire-only flavors) mounted quickly on both the Windows XP PC and Mac OS X test beds without the need for additional drivers. The drive also ships with various versions of Silverlining, LaCie's proprietary disk management utility. Both a FireWire and a USB-to-mini-USB cable are included, but the 5V/2.5-amp AC adapter is optional, though it may be necessary for connecting to older computers, and costs $17.
Our anecdotal USB 2.0 file-transfer tests proved that LaCie's unit, with its mobile 2.5-inch hard drive, is speedy indeed--second only to the full-size Maxtor OneTouch II, in our experience. This performance was especially impressive since the 100GB version of the unit spins at only 4,200rpm compared to the Maxtor's 7,200rpm. Of course, this might also be considered pretty good evidence that the USB/FireWire bus and the IDE translation chips are still the biggest bottlenecks in sustained transfer performance for external drives.
LaCie sells a number of versions of the Mobile Hard Drive in various speeds and capacities. In addition to the 100GB unit we tested, the 4,200rpm version also comes in 40GB, 60GB, and 80GB capacities. There are also 60GB/7,200rpm and 80GB/5,400rpm variations that may offer quicker random file access, if not faster sustained throughput. The Mobile Hard Drive's FireWire performance was quicker on our test system than it was with thebut barely so and still much slower than the LaCie's own USB performance.
LaCie's Mobile Hard Drives carry a one-year warranty and phone support is provided for the life of the product, though it's a toll call and available only on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT. However, the nicely illustrated, concise install guide and the extensive online support will get you through any minor installation issues. If you can't find the answer for your problem there, about the only thing tech support will be able to do is arrange for a return or an exchange.