In the five years that I've been blogging for TUAW, I've watched as the industry has shifted from USB 2.0 and FireWire 400 drive interfaces to USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt. Drives have also made a migration from spinning platters to solid-state drives (SSDs), providing more power efficiency, speed, and ruggedness. LaCie has recently released the Porsche Design Slim SSD P'9223 (US$149.99), an impossibly thin and lightweight 120 GB SSD portable drive using a USB 3.0 connection for power and data transfer.
LaCie has partnered with design firms around the world on a number of drives designs, and first worked with Porsche Design in 2003. With the Porsche Design Slim SSD P'9223, LaCie has created a masterpiece of engineering and art. The drive is a brushed aluminum slab only 11 mm (0.4 inches) thick -- that's 6 mm less than the thickest part of a MacBook Air. The other dimensions are also pretty small, just 5 inches x 3.1 inches (128 x 79 mm). Total weight of the drive is just 6.4 ounces (182 grams).
Gracing the top of the drive is the Porsche Design logo in stark black lettering, and there's an activity LED that peeks out of a thin vertical slit in the drive. The sides are covered with a black polycarbonate material for good looks and a better grip. The only opening on the drive is a SuperSpeed USB 3.0 port that the included cable plugs into. There's no need for external power with this drive.
Laptop users who need a bit more capacity can opt for a traditional spinning platter hard disk in the same form factor. The capacity of that drive is 500 GB, and the cost is a bit lower at just $89.99.
Like many hard drive manufacturers, LaCie insists on loading some utilities onto the disk. Those utilities include a way to encrypt the P'9223, a backup app (most Mac users will probably prefer to use OS X's built-in Time Machine capability), and a subscription to Wuala for sharing and backing up in the cloud. Fortunately, LaCie gives users a choice in whether or not they want to use any or all of the utilities.
LaCie now has a setup utility that is run before the first use of the drive. It gives users a chance to create a partition that can be used on both Windows and OS X machines, or partition the drive for OS X only. Formatting the drive is extremely fast, and then the user has an opportunity to load whatever software they've decided could be useful. The setup utility also adds a nice external drive icon that mimics the shiny aluminum case of the P'9223.
The real selling point of an SSD is speed, so let's get to the benchmarks. I usually use AJA System Test to get a handle on the speed of a drive as well as make comparisons to other tested drives. But during the testing speeds were either too slow for an SSD (when file system caching was disabled) or faster than the theoretical limit for USB 3.0 (when file system caching was enabled). Since I could not verify the results, I chose instead to do a simple comparison with a USB 2.0 portable HD drive with a folder of known size.
Here's the comparison, in each case writing a 912.4 MB file from a MacBook Pro with Retina display to an external drive:
- LaCie P'9223: 3.79 seconds
- Western Digital MyPassport USB 2.0: 26.24 seconds
To paraphrase the late Steve Jobs, "Boom!" Read speeds were equally impressive. In this next test, a 1.18 GB Applications folder on the external drive was copied back to the MacBook Pro:
- LaCie P'9223: 3.59 seconds
- Western DIgital MyPassport USB 2.0: 31.86 seconds
The P'9223 was anywhere from about 7 to almost 9 times faster in operations than a USB 2.0 hard disk drive. Regrettably, we were unable to test the P'9223 against a USB 3.0 hard disk drive.
What's not to like about the Porsche Design Slim SSD P'9223? It's fast, rugged, and looks great, and at a price tag of just $150, it's an affordable portable for your MacBook.
- Reasonably priced
- Sleek and incredibly slender design
- Case made from solid aluminum for durability
- None to speak of
Who is it for?
- The MacBook owner who wants the speed and ruggedness of an SSD in a beautifully designed case
One incredibly lucky TUAW reader is going to win a LaCie Porsche Design Slim SSD P'9223.
Here are the rules for the giveaway:
- Open to legal US residents of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 and older.
- To enter, fill out the form below completely and click or tap the Submit button.
- The entry must be made before June 25, 2013 11:59PM Eastern Daylight Time.
- You may enter only once.
- One winner will be selected and will receive a LaCie Porsche Design Slim SSD P'9223 valued at $149.99
- Click Here for complete Official Rules.