Wednesday, May 7, 2008
LaCie Mobile Disk review
It was about time I upgraded my five year old SmartDisk FireLite 40GB mobile drive. It was constantly locking up Windows XP and when I found that about 20 of my digital images were corrupted I almost flipped. Fortunately I live nearby a Staples and instead went and bought a replacement - the LaCie Mobile Disk 160GB. Call it a bank holiday treat. It was a toss between this and an Iomega, but I am a bit apprehensive of their brand after being forced to go through loads of failed Iomega Zip disks. Also I decided to forgo the massive storage that 3.5" external hard drives provide for increased portability for various reasons, as my desktop already contains close to 200GB of free space to play with plus I may consider investing in a NAS server once prices drop further.
The LaCie drive contains a 2.5" Seagate SATA hard disk with a rotational speed of 5400rpm and 8MB cache. It supports USB 2.0 and comes with a mini USB cable and a USB power cable for low powered USB ports. Those I left in the box as I have like ten USB cables just lying around, and my ThinkPad's USB ports provides sufficient juice power even two portable hard drives. The drive has been preformatted and comes with LaCie's own synchronisation and encryption software. I immediately formatted the file system into NTSC as FAT has proven to be too unreliable to me in the past. A blue LED blinks when the hard drive is used.
The curvy enclosure is made of matte metal and comes in black. It remains warm to touch even after I copied 30GB worth of files under one sitting, so it obviously performs well. It is a little thicker and wider than Jennifer's Freecom Classic Mobile HD, but slightly shorter. At 170g it is a pretty light drive, though it is heavier than my FireLite drive. It feels solid and thus 'expensive'. A pair of rubber legs ensures that it doesn't slide around the desk should you accidentally knock it about. Still one should always practice extreme caution when dealing with portable drives with moving parts.
Data transfer speed is reasonable. It took me around 50 minutes to transfer 30GB of files (mixture of tens of thousands of videos, music and pictures) from the old drive to the LaCie disk over two USB 2.0 connections, which I believe is reasonable considering all the bottlenecks. As you can see from the HD Tune benchmark results that I ran on both the LaCie Mobile Disk and FireLite drive (which has a Fujitsu hard disk), the LaCie is substantially quicker on all rounds. Note that both were optimised for quick removal under Windows XP USB device properties, so the LaCie's performance could have been higher without the bottlenecks and/or restrictions. Despite the SATA interface, it was always going to be bogged down by USB 2.0.
The price of the drive is £50, which is significantly less than what I paid for the old drive back then (£120) or some proprietary 360 drive. They also sell a 250GB version for £90, but I didn't think it was worth it. For £50 it is a pretty good deal. On the downside, it only comes with a one year warranty - but I hardly pay attention to such things anyway as no amount of warranty can protect your data. I am aware that SSDs are the future, but you can't beat the price ratio on this. As for my old drive, I am probably going to shred the disk inside and try to source for a cheap IDE replacement.