The LaCie Starck Mobile Hard Drive is a 2.5in portable external drive with a striking design. Available in 320GB and 500GB models, the hard drive looks fashionable and is extremely durable. It also provides solid transfer speeds over a USB 2.0 connection.
Many of LaCie's recent products - like the 4Big Quadra and Rugged All-Terrain external hard drives - have been the work of French designer Neil Poulton. For its latest line of external hard drives, however, LaCie turned to Poulton's former mentor, the world-renowned Phillipe Starck. It has been 15 years since Starck designed a product for LaCie, but he hasn't lost his touch.
The LaCie Starck Mobile Hard Drive has a curved aluminium case that wraps around the internal drive. It is 2mm thick and solidly built, protecting the hard drive from accidents.
LaCie claims the portable hard drive can survive being run over by a car. The metal enclosure makes the portable hard drive a little heavier and slightly larger than some similar products, but we think the appealing design and durability make it worthwhile.
The LaCie Starck drive has a mirror-like front fascia, which is also made from aluminium. Unlike the larger Starck Desktop Hard Drive, the fascia doesn't have touch-sensitive controls, so it is merely for looks.
A USB cable is attached to the back of the LaCie Starck external hard drive and can be curled up for storage. It can be removed to attach a longer mini-USB to USB cable. A second USB cable is provided in the package that plugs into a power port should you need to use the drive with computers that only have USB 1.1 ports.
The LaCie Starck Mobile Hard Drive is easy to set up for both Macs and Windows PCs. A bundled set-up assistant guides you through the process, allowing you to choose your desired file system and giving you the option of creating a second FAT32 partition that is compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux PCs. Once configured, the external hard drive offers software and manuals suited to the chosen operating system.
Mac users get the basic version of Intego Backup Assistant, which provides a very simple drag-and-drop interface for backing up and synchronising data. However, you can only synchronise one source at a time, and features like virus scans and the ability to run third-party applications automatically are reserved for the Pro version. Mac users may want to opt for Mac OS X's own Time Machine software instead.
Windows users get a lite version of Genie-Soft's Backup Assistant, which is significantly better than the Mac software. You can easily select multiple sources, folders and whole user profiles to back up to both local and networked locations, and employ AES encryption and file compression.
LaCie uses both Hitachi and Seagate 2.5in hard drives in the Starck Mobile Hard Drive; the one you get will just depend on the luck of the draw. We tested our review unit by transferring files between the portable hard drive and a 300GB Western Digital Velociraptor hard drive. The first test involved 20GB of 3-4GB files while the second comprised 3GB of 1MB files.
While the LaCie Starck Mobile isn't the fastest portable hard drive currently available, it offers solid read and write speeds. Our tests indicate that the hard drive's key strength is in reading and writing small files, but it still handles larges files well.
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