Built-in eight-hour battery; USB 3.0
$249 (1TB), $329 (2TB)
The LaCie Fuel is a central storage tank for your multimedia library, so you don’t need to load up all your gadgets with movies and music before you hit the road.
The Fuel is basically a portable Network Attached Storage drive, offering 1 or 2 TB of internal storage. It generates its own Wi-Fi network so you can access that storage from computers, smartphones, tablets and other Wi-Fi enabled devices.
The Fuel also features a micro-USB 3.0 port for copying across files from your computer and for charging up the eight-hour internal battery. The lack of built-in Ethernet would make the Fuel a poor choice as your primary home NAS, but its strengths shine through once you walk out the front door, thanks to the built-in battery.
You can fire up the Fuel in the car to offer everyone in the back seat access to its multimedia library, letting up to five devices play movies and music via the Seagate Media app available for iOS and Android (Seagate acquired LaCie a few years ago). You can also tap into the Fuel via the web browser on your computer.
The downside of this set-up is that you need to disconnect your smartphone from the Fuel when you want to use the internet via mobile broadband. Once you arrive at your destination the Fuel can sit in the corner – plugged into a power point – to cater for everyone’s entertainment needs while you’re away from home.
Of course once you arrive at your destination you might prefer to generate your own Wi-Fi hotspot, which can be more economical than letting each device use mobile broadband.
Thankfully you can connect the Fuel to an existing Wi-Fi hotspot, using ‘concurrent’ mode, so you can access the internet and content from the Fuel simultaneously. This way you can remain connected to the LaCie’s Wi-Fi network rather than jumping between it and your hotspot. This trick will also work in the car if you have a portable Wi-Fi hotspot.
Be warned, the Fuel creates an open Wi-Fi network by default, so be sure to password-protect it.
The Seagate Media app automatically sorts the Fuel’s content into movies, music, photos, documents and recent – making it easy to find what you’re looking for. You can copy files to and from the Fuel via USB, Samba networking or via the Seagate Media app, but the Fuel is designed primarily as a multimedia server rather than a central backup drive.
Thankfully you’re not totally reliant on the Seagate Media app, because the Fuel also acts as a DLNA media server.
You can also connect the Fuel to your Dropbox account to sync files with the cloud. The icing on the cake is that even though you’re outside the iTunes ecosystem you can still watch DRM-protected movies purchased from the iTunes store.
If your iGadget is authorised for the account used to purchase the movie, the Seagate Media app will launch Mobile Safari to play the movie on your iPhone or iPad. From your Mac you can access the Fuel via the Finder and play your movie in QuickTime.
Support for movies purchased from Apple could make the Fuel the perfect choice for people who live a very iCentric lifestyle. Of course you can always bypass these issues by purchasing your movies on DVD/Blu-ray and then ripping them to iFriendly formats using software like HandBrake.
There’s a lot to like about the LaCie Fuel because it anticipates the needs of iGadget owners. Business travellers might prefer to opt for a travel router with attached storage, but the Fuel is a great option for iCentric families looking to hit the road without leaving behind the digital comforts of home.