The LaCie Rikiki is a 250GB USB 2.0 external hard drive.

Rikiki is, we're told, colloquial French for tiny. The 250GB LaCie Rikiki drive is certainly small, measuring a scant 110x75x14mm. However, it's still a spindle-based backup drive, which means it isn't as light as it might be.

The powdered aluminium casing helps protect it from accidental knocks and bumps up the LaCie Rikiki's weight to 158g.

Some standard-size 2.5in external drives are lighter than the LaCie Rikiki, but we've not seen any as compact. As often with LaCie, minimalism is the watchword and only the glowing orange LED indicates it's in use. When attached to a laptop, however, we found we were conscious of the drive vibrating, though we didn't notice any operational noise.

The LaCie Rikiki works with both Macs and PCs and has a Genie backup and sychronisation tool so you can select what to back up and when and whether to add AES encryption. You can also automatically back up to the web. LaCie includes 10GB of online storage space at Wuala.com. Most such services offer only 2GB for free, so this is a generous allowance. The Wuala file transfer app provided is Java-based, so you will need to install this if you haven't already got it on your machine.

The LaCie Rikiki drive is not geared towards either Windows or Mac OS when you first use it - you can format it for one or the other or both. We set it up for both and also tried out the USB Boost utility for the Windows side.

A 10cm mini USB-to-USB cable connects the LaCie Rikiki drive to the computer, which is otherwise self-powered. No supplementary USB port is required. However, the drive's performance wasn't all it could be. Our 3.7GB test file took 225 seconds [3 minutes 45 seconds] Windows 7 to copy to the LaCie Rikiki - far slower than most of the other drives we tested.

Copying in the other direction was equally slow, while copying the same 3.7GB file from the LaCie Rikiki to a Mac took 3 minutes 58 seconds. For 32bit Windows users, there's a USB Boost utility that can improve this performance. It doesn't work with 64bit Windows or Macs, however. To use the USB Boost utility, you install it and have it mininise to the system tray. You must then unplug and remount the drive before you can use the utililty. Our 3.7GB multiple test files then took 2 minutes 57 seconds to copy across, shaving 48 seconds off the original time.

As well as taking a performance hit for the sleek form factor of the LaCie Rikiki, you pay a little more than average too. The 250GB version we review here is currently priced between £51.99 and £62.99 at UK-based web stores. Capacities of up to 640GB are available. It's backed by a two-year warranty.

NEXT: our expert verdict >>

LaCie Rikiki: Specs

  • 250GB hard disk
  • USB 2.0
  • Interface Transfer Rate: Up to 480Mbits/s (60MB/s)
  • 109.7x75x13.4mm
  • 158g
  • 250GB hard disk
  • USB 2.0
  • Interface Transfer Rate: Up to 480Mbits/s (60MB/s)
  • 109.7x75x13.4mm
  • 158g

OUR VERDICT

Currently the slimmest 2.5in drive of its kind around, the LaCie Rikiki’s compact dimensions, classy metallic finish and minimalist design give it a strong appeal. It’s not light, however, and could do with a carry pouch to protect scratches from its sharp corners. A smart but rather sluggish backup drive, but an attractive one nonetheless.

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