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LaCie SE2100 U&I 24x/10x/40x FireWire/USB review:

LaCie SE2100 U&I 24x/10x/40x FireWire/USB

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MSRP: $189.00
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The Good Both FireWire and USB connections; cables included for each; PC and Mac compatible.

The Bad FireWire installation problems in Windows 98 SE; inadequate user manual.

The Bottom Line The LaCie U&I 24X/10X/40X offers satisfactory performance, but it works better with Macs than with PCs.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

7.0 Overall

At first glance, the $329 LaCie U&I 24X/10X/40X drive is impressive, with its 24X burn speed (the fastest available) and its USB and FireWire (IEEE 1394) support (hence the U&I in the name). But further investigation reveals flaws in the drive's image as a cross-platform peripheral. Though it works well on a Mac, PC installation and performance problems beset the drive. And its confusing and uninformative user guide doesn't help much, making this a fair choice only for Apple owners--or PC users who don't mind wrangling with drivers. At first glance, the $329 LaCie U&I 24X/10X/40X drive is impressive, with its 24X burn speed (the fastest available) and its USB and FireWire (IEEE 1394) support (hence the U&I in the name). But further investigation reveals flaws in the drive's image as a cross-platform peripheral. Though it works well on a Mac, PC installation and performance problems beset the drive. And its confusing and uninformative user guide doesn't help much, making this a fair choice only for Apple owners--or PC users who don't mind wrangling with drivers.

Blue-screen blues
Installation of the LaCie--which is compatible with Windows 98, Me, and 2000, plus Mac OS 8.6 to 9.2--was a mixture of smooth sailing and choppy waters. Both FireWire and USB cables come with the drive, as well as one blank CD-R and CD-RW. The drive installed without a hitch on a Mac system. While it also installed easily on a PC via USB, FireWire was a different story. On a test machine running Windows 98 SE, blue-screen errors and crashes began as soon as the LaCie was plugged in and turned on. The included user guide offered little assistance. Online troubleshooting didn't help either, but a call to LaCie's tech support (and a Windows FireWire driver update) solved the problem. Although we didn't test it, LaCie claims this shouldn't be a problem in Windows Me or 2000.

The LaCie U&I 24X/10X/40X ships with the software basics, including Roxio Easy CD Creator 5 Basic and DirectCD (Toast 5.0.1 for Mac users), as well as the Silverlining utility for removable drives. If you're upgrading your CD-R/RW drive and have an older version of Easy CD Creator, you should uninstall the old version before installing version 5; the older versions won't recognize the LaCie U&I, and installing over the older version created drive-recognition problems (a fault of Roxio, not LaCie).

Almost famous
In CNET Labs' tests, the FireWire-enabled LaCie generally trailed behind other 24X drives, including the TDK VeloCD ReWriter and the QPS Que 24X/10X/40X drive. Digital audio extraction of a 27-minute track took 1.1 minutes--not the best score, but it came close. The LaCie U&I burned a 43-minute audio CD in a little less than 4.5 minutes, or 97 seconds slower than the QPS. And the LaCie installed Office 2000 Small Business Edition in about 4.2 minutes, almost a minute longer than the TDK and QPS drives required. But the LaCie U&I's moment of glory occurred during the 500MB single-session data burn, where the LaCie, completing the task in 189 seconds, was the fastest drive we've seen. This is 4 seconds faster than the TDK's score (although the times for both drives round off to 3.2 minutes in our performance charts).

Documentation and support for the drive were also mixed. The manuals failed to cover any of our installation problems. LaCie covers the drive with a standard one-year warranty and offers limited online support, such as FAQs and driver updates. At least telephone help is free and available beyond standard business hours (Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.), but long distance tolls apply.

LaCie, or not LaCie?
If you have a Mac system, the LaCie U&I 24X/10X/40X, which is fast and relatively trouble-free, is probably a good choice. If you're a PC user, look toward faster IDE drives, such as the QPS Que 24X/10X/40X drive. But those who need the versatility of both a USB- and FireWire-compatible device should be prepared for the potential vagaries of the drive's FireWire installation under Windows.

Write tests
Time, in minutes, to complete tasks (shorter bars indicate better performance)
Audio burn to CD-R from image on hard drive (from 43 min., 11 sec. audio CD)   
Single-session data burn to CD-R (500MB directory)   
Packet-write from hard drive to CD-RW (400MB directory)   
QPS Que (24X/10X/40X)
2.8 
3.9 
6.0 
TDK VeloCD ReWriter (24X/10X/40X)
3.4 
3.2 
5.7 
LaCie U&I (24X/10X/40X)
4.4 
3.2 
6.1 
LaCie U&I (16X10X40X)
3.8 
5.2 
8.6 
 
Audio extraction tests
Time, in minutes, to extract a 26-minute, 58-second audio track (shorter bars indicate better performance)

QPS Que (24X/10X/40X)
0.9 
TDK VeloCD ReWriter (24X/10X/40X)
0.9 
LaCie U&I (24X/10X/40X)
1.1 
LaCie U&I (16X10X40X)
1.2 
 
Read tests
Time, in minutes, to install Microsoft Office 2000 Small Business Edition (shorter bars indicate better performance)

QPS Que (24X/10X/40X)
3.2 
TDK VeloCD ReWriter (24X/10X/40X)
3.2 
LaCie U&I (24X/10X/40X)
4.1 
LaCie U&I (16X10X40X)
4.2 
 
While the LaCie trails behind its competitors in most of our tests, it's the fastest drive we've seen at the 500MB single-session data burn, completing the task in 189 seconds. This is 4 seconds faster than the TDK's score, although the times for both drives round off to 3.2 minutes in our performance charts.

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