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LaCie 160GB FireWire Hard Drive

High-performance external drive designed by FA Porsche By Frank Moldstad

LaCie's 160GB external FireWire hard drive has an industrial brushed aluminum case with a minimalist form designed by FA Porsche that complements the Mac G5 box so well that it practically blends into the computer. When placed on top of a G5, the LaCie's power cable and the included FireWire cable can be threaded through the computer's rear case handle. In addition to being neat, this prevents against someone accidentally knocking the hard drive off its perch. And the FireWire cable is just the right length for connecting to a G5 without stretching or looping.

But this drive is more than just pretty. With a rotation speed of 7200 RPM and an average seek time of 10 ms, it is robust enough to keep up with audio and video transfer rates (complete specs here). Compatible with PCs as well as Macs, LaCie's hard drive is available now for a suggested retail price of $149 (about $10 less on the street). Smart shoppers can even buy factory reconditioned models direct from LaCie for $105, something I didn't know when I purchased it at retail -- although as usual I needed it immediately. It is available as either a FireWire 400 or USB 2.0 device, with capacities from 80 to 250GB.

I hooked it up to both a PC and a Mac, and on each platform it was literally Plug and Play. In fact, the instructions in the printed manual are laughably simple:

1. Connect the power supply.
2. Turn the drive on.
3. Connect the FireWire cable to your drive.
4. Connect the FireWire cable to your computer.

Each step has a full page devoted to it in the printed manual, with a large illustration showing how to do it. Messing up this installation would take some doing. A more thorough manual is included on CD-ROM in PDF format, with instructions on formatting for various platforms.

Two FireWire jacks are included on the rear panel, with power connector and on/off switch.
The drive comes preformatted as FAT32, so no additional formatting is required for immediate use on either Macs or PCs (it can be reformatted as an HFS+ or NTFS drive). Anybody remember what a pain it used to be to set up a drive in an external SCSI chain? Even more to the point, hooking up and formatting an additional internal hard drive seems increasingly unecessary given the performance and price of external drives, especially considering that external drives can be easily switched from one computer to another.

The included CD-ROM contains several LaCie utility programs for backing up data, including Silverkeeper for backing up, comparing synchronizing and restoring folders on Power Macs. It has a straightforward interface for selecting the source file and the destination, and a Go button to implement the process. SilverKeeper will work with nearly any internal or external drive on the Mac, including hard drives, Zip drives and DVD-RAM drives. Another utility included is Silverlining Pro, a dual platform application for configuring the drive on Mac OSX/9x and Windows 98/98SE/ME/2000, which can also create RAID volumes.

In use, the drive proved a fast and silent performer. I transferred a horde of audio and video files to it and then inserted several into a Cubase project, streaming them without any performance hitches.

LaCie's family of Porsche-designed drives includes combo USB 2.0/FireWire models and smaller bus-powered drives specifically designed for use with laptops. The desktop drives are stackable, with grooves in the top that accomodate the feet of other drives on top of it.

For me, design was actually a secondary concern in purchasing the drive -- its aesthetic and ergonomic compatibility with a G5 was an added bonus. Originally, I had picked out an Accom 160GB combo USB/FireWire drive that CompUSA had priced at $179. The flexibilty of using either connectivity would be nice, but since I have FireWire ports on both a PC and a Mac, it wasn't necessary to have the USB option. But for those who do need the flexibility of both FireWire and USB, or who require a drive exclusively for laptop use, this drive obviously won't do. LaCie and many others offer configurations for those purposes.

But among the external desktop FireWire drives on the market, this one is hard to beat, with its good looks, high performance and large capacity.


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Related Keywords:LaCie, 160GB, FireWire, external Hard Drive, FA Porsche, 7200 RPM

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