LaCie Little Big Disk 200GB
The portable hard drive for video pros?
Exclusive Review When is a mobile hard drive not a mobile hard drive? When it's LaCie's Little Big Disk, it seems. While the product is certainly portable and - crucially for a mobile unit - doesn't need a separate mains power supply, anyone who's used one of LaCie's compact Pocket Drives will surely look at the chunky, metal-cased LBD and wonder if the company isn't a few platters short of a drive...
But there's method to this apparent madness, and the LBD is aptly named. Stand it on the bundled base plate and it's barely taller and longer than the Pocket Drives of old. It's more than twice as thick, however, and there's a good reason for the extra width: the LBD contains not one but two 2.5in, 7,200rpm hard disks to provide its 200GB storage capacity.
Connect the unit to a Mac or PC - there are a pair of Firewire 800 ports, one Firewire 400 connector and a singe USB 2.0 port for the purpose - and the LBD appears as a single unit. But the drive's circuitry "stripes" whatever you save on the LBD across both disks. It's an approach called RAID 0, and it's done for speed. Alas, there's no way to access both disks separately, so you can't set it up so that, say, one disk mirrors the other in case either fails. No, this is simply about increasing the capacity of mobile drives and making them fast.
LaCie is pitching the LBD's speed more than its portability. The designer aluminium case, which looks not unlike a heatsink, may look cool alongside a PowerBook G4, MacBook Pro or Power Mac G5, but it weighs no less than 650g. Having two drives to power means that only Firewire connections can provide enough juice to run the unit off the bus - so folk relying on its USB 2.0 connectivity, or who have a four-pin Firewire port spare, will still need to connect up the bundled mains adaptor.
Credit to LaCie, it has made the AC power block as small as possible - it's little bigger than a phone charger. It has also bundled a full set of Firewire 800, Firewire 400 and USB 2.0 cables.
The metal case, with its ribbed sides and a flat front broken only by a large, eye-like blue activity light, isn't unattractive in an industrial kind of way. And it looks much better than any number of portable drives that have been decked out in metallic grey plastic. I mentioned the LBD's particular co-ordination with pro-oriented Macs, and this is no co-incidence. The LBD will connect to a PC, but professional Mac users are LaCie's target audience.