LaCie hard drives stand in Starck contrast to the competition (hands-on)

Ready for some churchin' up? Then step on in to the house of Starck. Philippe Starck that is, the prolific designer who's left his mark on hotel interiors, motorbikes, and toilets across the globe. His latest contribution to the economy of stuff also heralds a return to LaCie (remember his "toaster" series?) with a pair of new hard disk drives: the LaCie Starck Mobile Hard Drive and Desktop Hard Drive. Both drives are conspicuously inscribed with Starck's name and flare for melding organic shapes within the rigid rules of geometry. Drives that must be pressed to flesh to be fully appreciated for their aesthetic and mass. And while the models we received feature off-the-shelf disks from Samsung and Hitachi, LaCie adds a few functional tricks to enhance that high-design form. Read on to see if the two struck the appropriate balance.


When you connect the unformatted disks to your Mac or PC for the first time, you are immediately presented with the option to format the entire drive to match your host operating system or to segment it with an "Exchange" partition for easy sharing across foreign OSes. A nice touch that works well right out of the box. Once formatted, the disks are pre-populated with the user manual and all utilities required to manage them, including Intego backup software. We didn't benchmark these drives -- what's the point, they are built around Samsung's 2.5-inch 320GB HM320II 5400RPM spinner and Hitachi's 3.5-inch, 7200RPM 1TB Deskstar 7K1000.B HDT721010SLA360. We're sure you can track down the detailed specs and benchmarks with little trouble. Besides, your motivation for buying these disks has less to do with performance than with perception.

Of the two, the 320GB LaCie Starck Mobile Hard Drive (available also in 500GB config) holds the least number of surprises. It's a relatively small disk with built-in USB cable that tucks into the back-end of the sculpted enclosure. It looks superb and feels even better in hand with its heavy, brushed aluminum enclosure making a fine visual contrast to the smooth-as-glass polished aluminum insert. But for most, we doubt that the look of your portable hard disk ranks too highly in importance. It doesn't for us. Instead we want to pack as much data into the smallest and lightest package possible. After all, we're not carrying around all this gear for exercise, we're carrying it out of necessity. Besides the weight, the drive's sharp edges and rigid materials pose a real threat of inflicting damage to your precious new laptop's exterior unless you take proper care to keep the two separate inside your laptop bag.

The 1TB LaCie Starck Desktop Hard Drive (also available in a 2TB configuration), however, is an entirely different device meant to sit on the desktop in view of anyone that enters your home and/or home office. This is where Starck's intricate touch becomes important; where for some, the choice of an external hard disk's appearance requires as much thought as the selection of a new sofa. Here Starck squeezes liquid metal into a rough enclosure of iron symmetry. A look that should perfectly complement the interior of any off-duty Terminator.

The LaCie Starck Desktop Hard Drive also offers a pair of functional acrobatics. First there's the projection of the iconic "t" in Starck's name onto the surface of which it sits. It glows orange when idle and flickers when there's disk activity. It even turns green when you touch the a small section of the polished aluminum surface on the front of the disk drive. See, the enclosure features a touch-sensitive capacitive "button" neatly integrated into the right-hand side face of the drive. A button that can be configured to launch any application, utility, or shortcut you choose. A longer touch-and-hold also gives a secondary launch function. In our case, we choose to mount/unmount the drive -- a daily occurrence when mated to our laptop. A novelty? Sure. The idea of taking our hands off the keyboard and mouse to touch the hard drive to launch an application borders the absurd. But the effect is pretty damn impressive and together with the projected "t" will certainly make this external USB 2.0 disk appealing to a certain segment of city-bred, cocktail sipping consumers with money to burn.

While the portable hard disk is certainly attractive, the idea of schlepping around all that extra material weight just to support the design leaves us as cold and harsh as the drive's rough external enclosure. Starck's take on the 3.5-inch external USB drive for the home base, however, is far more compelling. This thing's a beast... and a beauty, striking a novel and functional balance to that molten form. Just consider the long term effects of staring at a blinking orange crucifix before you betray your savings account. Prices start at $130 for the Desktop drive and $100 for the mobile.

Now hit the read link below to see the man describe this drive. We guarantee that it's unlike any product pitch you've ever seen.