WD claims its 5,400rpm model has the power characteristics of a 4,200rpm drive, but of more relevance here is its shock-protection techniques, such as the way it parks the read/write heads well away from the disk surfaces when the drive isn't in use, and its "whisper quiet" operation. It can also stand "more than 5lbs of pressure - nearly 1.5 times the industry average - without pinching vital internal components", the vendor claims.
All of which boost LaCie's claim for shock resistance, though I note the company's spec sheet warns: "Dropping is not recommended in operating mode." I can't answer to the drive's resistance to shocks, but my cautious 'couple of feet onto the desk' non-operating drop-test produced no ill effects. In places the silicone surround is no more than two or three millimetres thick, but it's stodgy enough on the lead edges and the places where a dropped drive is most likely to hit something. It'll give you cover against most accidents, I suspect, but we're not talking army-grade resilience.
The drive is quiet - you can feel a clear vibration from the drive's motor when it's moving data back and forth, but not much noise, and there's definitely none of the read/write head motion sounds I get from my PocketDrive and other notebook-oriented 2.5in HDDs.
Unlike the PocketDrive, there's no activity light, so having un-mounted the disk, you have to trust it's written the data and parked the heads before you yank the cable out. LaCie nicely bundles Firewire 400 and 800 cables, and a USB 2.0 link - all three interfaces are included on the back of the drive, alongside a power port. No AC adaptor is supplied. Instead, you get a USB-to-power cable is bundled, allowing USB 1.1 users with two free ports to power the disk to full speed.
The drive performed as well as can be expected. Connected to an 867MHz PowerBook G4, and using the bundled Firewire 400 cable, a 1.2GB folder containing almost 800 JPEG images took an average of 1m 43.08s to copy to the drive, and then a further 1m 40.85s to duplicate on the drive - both timings yield throughputs of 11.9MBps and 12.16MBps, respectively.