Review: LaCie Rugged All-Terrain Hard Drive

Light, portable, made to take a punch. (October 8th, 2007)

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Product Manufacturer: LaCie

Price: $89.99 US (80GB USB)

The Good

  • Strong, tough build. Wide range of capacities available. True plug and play, including USB 1.1. Bus-powered. Support for Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X.

The Bad

  • Large price gap between USB and FireWire models. No Activity light.

The LaCie Rugged All-Terrain Hard Drive is rugged and tough enough for all your travels in everyday life. While it is not the fastest, or most advanced mobile external hard drive on the market, it is dependable and worth considering for its durability and build quality.

Performance

I tested the 80 GB Rugged All-Terrain Hard Drive with an USB 2.0 interface, which is capable of transfer speeds up to 60MB/s. You won't have to worry about ever hitting that limit though, as this is a 5200-RPM 2.5-inch mobile device. If you use this drive as a mass data storage device for every day tasks, the speed is more than adequate.

LaCie advertises a maximum sustained transfer rate of 30MB/s, but the maximum I experienced was just shy of 20MB/s. I measured the transfer rates with Disk Utility during the transfer of a large file. In addition, for those using USB 1.1 equipped computers that cannot provide enough power to the hard drive, an additional USB cable can be attached to the hard drive to feed power from another port.

Design

The Rugged All-Terrain certainly has a different look than most of LaCie's other products, but maintains the same high standards. The case is very solid and the drive feels well protected. With all the metal and thick rubber displayed in the pictures, it's easy to assume that the drive is heavy, but in fact, it is quite light and only weighs 8.8 ounces (or 250 grams). I would feel more confident of the drive's ruggedness if it weighed more, but LaCie has managed to create a robust product with little bulk.

 Rugged All-Terrain Hard Drive


Rugged All-Terrain Hard Drive with Compass - Source: LaCie


You can remove the rubber guard for cleaning purposes, but cannot modify the drive. If you open the drive unit, by removing the Do Not Remove sticker, you void the warranty, so buy the size you need and do not plan to install a bigger drive. My main concern with removing the rubber is the increased potential for wear and stretching over time, but as rubber attracts dirt, the ability to clean the guard is welcome. The aluminum shell seems to be scratch resistant and well suited for the everyday abuse that mobile hard drives receive. Overall. the materials are quite nice and meet the quality I expect from a LaCie enclosure. One clear oversight is the lack of an indicator or an activity light to show that the hard drive is on or whether it is safe to disconnect.

Features and Add-ons

For Mac OS X and Windows 2000/XP/Vista computers, the drive operates without any additional drivers. LaCie bundles a '1-Click' Backup Software along with Silverkeeper for Mac OS 9 & Mac OS X and Silverlining for Windows 98SE, Windows Me, and Mac OS 9. The drive includes an industry standard one-year limited warranty.

If an orange bumper doesn't suit your color senses, LaCie provides interchangeable sleeves in a separate bundle. The LaCie Colored Bumper collection includes green-grey, blue-grey, and a black bumper for $16.99 US. You can also buy a power adapter separately for $19.99 US.

Conclusion

I didn't throw the drive off of any cliffs or run it over with a car, but I felt very comfortable tossing the drive into a backpack with other objects without fearing for its life, as I have with other portable drives. The overall design is pleasing and the performance is also up to par. The main feature that sets this drive apart is its strong constitution and in that area, the drive certainly succeeds. If you don't think the USB 2.0 interface is fast enough, there is a more expensive version that adds FireWire 400 and 800 connectivity. The FireWire version starts at $189.99, if you need portability along with faster speeds. The gap between the two models seems quite large, but if you do tasks such as HD video editing that require more speed, you may find the jump worth the extra expense.

Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor

by Jon Aziz


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