OK, so that headline was bit ... link-baitish. But the real news is that storage accessory manufacturer LaCie and Porsche Design have teamed up to create a keychain flash drive that is both speedy and stylish. The LaCie Porsche Design USB Key (starting at US$29.99) is available starting today, and the company provided one for our review and testing.
The key is lightweight (.3 oz, 8.5 gm) and tiny (2.1" x .5" x .15", 53 x 12 x 4 mm), while still retaining a feeling of solidity through the use of stainless steel in construction. It's available in both 16 GB ($29.99) and 32 GB ($49.99) models, and it's a bit surprising that the company didn't choose to offer a 64 GB model as well.
I used one of LaCie's USB keys on my keychain for about four years until it finally split in half this year. That model was made of two pieces of aluminum that were pressed together, and it always had a somewhat flimsy feel to it. Not so with this USB key -- it feels extremely solid, and the case is made in one piece. It should definitely put up with the day-to-day pounding it will get on a keychain.
The LaCie Porsche Design USB Key is USB 3.0, so copying files to and from a USB 3.0-equipped Mac is quick. LaCie provides key owners with several utilities if they wish, one of which provides AES 256-bit encryption and another that provides a year of cloud storage of the same capacity as your key through the company's Wuala storage service. LaCie doesn't "trash up" your Porsche Design USB Key with this software -- you just download it from a website if you want it.
When connected, the Porsche Design USB Key was initially formatted as MS-DOS FAT 32. I chose to open up Disk Utility and reformat the key as Mac OS Extended (Journaled) because that's the way I roll.
Beginning with this device review, TUAW is using the Intech SpeedTools QuickBench benchmark app to do comparisons of disk drives. We performed the Standard Test suite in numeric view, which performs sequential and random reads and writes with varying transfer sizes. The results were pretty impressive. LaCie notes that the key can "deliver speeds up to 95 MB/s" and our testing showed that to be true -- small file read and write speeds reached approximately 91 MB/s, and for large files, read speeds were in the range of 85 - 86 MB/s. As with most drives, write speeds slowed down considerably with larger transfer sizes, dropping from an average of 66.2 MB/s below 10 MB to 24.0 MB/s between 20 MB and 100 MB.
The LaCie Porsche Design USB Key not only looks great, but has speed to match. With the one-piece stainless steel construction, the key should be able to survive jangling against a pocketful of keys for quite some time.
Sleek design, small footprint
USB 3.0 speed
Utility software is optional and not pre-loaded onto the key
None to speak of
Who is it for?
Anyone who needs a keychain USB flash drive who wants both speed and good looks -- kinda like a Porsche sports car