LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 & Thunderbolt series

Adam Turner
31 December, 2012
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LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 & Thunderbolt series

LaCie, www.lacie.com/au

Pros 

Fast; rugged; SSD options

Cons 

Only one HDD option

$249 (120GB SSD); $299 (1TB HDD); $399 (256GB SSD)

Reviews

Rough, tough and lightning fast, LaCie’s Rugged USB 3.0 & Thunderbolt series is a real pocket rocket.

LaCie’s Rugged range is designed to offer an extra level of insurance when you’re lugging around data on an external drive. It features a bright orange rubber sleeve designed to protect the drive against a 1.2-metre drop, such as sliding off a table or out of your bag.

You’ve also the option of a 120GB or 240GB Solid State Drive with no moving parts, to offer extra protection against the rough and tumble of life on the road.

Ruggedness is one of those things that’s difficult to test in any scientific manner. So we took the brutal and unscientific approach of simply walking outside with an SSD model and dropping it on concrete from a height of 1.2m (or four feet, in the old money).

It made a very satisfying clunk. We brushed it off, plugged it back into our MacBook Air and there was our data, still intact. To check it wasn’t a fluke, we dropped it again from five feet. Twice. It kept ticking. Short of backing the car over it, we’re confident this little LaCie is tough.

Apart from data protection, there are other advantages to opting for an SSD model. Drives with no moving parts are faster and draw less power than traditional Hard Disk Drives, which is handy considering this LaCie is a bus- powered drive which doesn’t need its own power point.

Of course the trade-off is that SSD offers a lot less bang for your buck when it comes to storage, so it’s great to have the 1TB HDD option for those who need room to move and aren’t as concerned about sturdiness and raw speed.

When it comes to connectivity the LaCie offers both Apple’s super-fast Thunderbolt and USB 3.0, which is, thankfully, backwards compatible with USB 2.0 as Macs have been late- comers to the USB 3.0 party.

LaCie includes both Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 cables in the box, but given the choice you’ll find Thunderbolt is
still faster than USB 3.0. The drive only features a single Thunderbolt port, so it needs to be the last device in a daisy chain.

The LaCie comes unformatted except for a tiny partition with a setup utility. The utility lets you opt for a HFS+ partition for working with Macs or a FAT32 partition for working with both Mac and Windows. You can also drag a slider to split the drive in two if you need both HFS+ and FAT32 partitions.

The utility also offers to install Intego’s automated backup software, LaCie Private Public Password Protect for security and Wuala Cloud Storage, which includes 10GB of free storage for 12 months.

So what about data transfer speeds? The Elgato Thunderbolt SSD was the speed king of last month’s Portable Storage Group Test, but the 120GB SSD LaCie puts it to shame.

Copying 21GB of data via Thunder- bolt from an 11in MacBook Air took only two minutes and five seconds – a 35 percent speed boost on the Elgato. Copying data back from the drive was almost a dead heat at two minutes.

A key reason for the performance difference is that LaCie relies on SATA- III 6 Gbps drives while Elgato opts for SATA-II 3 Gbps drives.

Switching to USB, the same 21GB transfer took 12 minutes 40 seconds via our MacBook Air’s USB 2.0 port, around 90 seconds faster than the USB drives in last month’s Group Test.

Australian Macworld‘s buying advice.

The fact it’s so much faster than the Thunderbolt-enabled Elgato, yet considerably cheaper, makes this LaCie the one to beat. Backwards compatibility with USB makes it considerably more versatile, while the fact it can survive a beating is the icing on the cake.

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