By Neil Bennett | on March 30, 2009
Pros: Great looks; easy-to-use software and simple set-up.
Cons: Single interface.
This drive is reviewed as part of our group test of desktop storage devices.
The Hard Disk Max is LaCie’s latest drive; aside from this fact, we were persuaded to look at it because of its looks. Created by leading product designer Neil Poulton, who has also created many of the manufacturer’s other hard drives, the device’s shell combines a glossy black sheen with a blue light that glows from the base of its front.
It’s simple, attractive, somewhat reminiscent of 2001, and bound to garner envious glances from colleagues – which isn’t something we often write about storage. The only downside to the design is that it attracts fingerprint marks like a Polaroid photo.
Inside the Hard Disk Max are two drives that can be configured as ‘Big’ (RAID 0) and ‘Safe’ (RAID 1). The RAID 0 setting doesn’t offer any speed improvements as the device has only a USB 2.0 connection: it’s more for simplicity. Everything about the Hard Disk Max is designed to be as simple as possible. Plugging in the drive to your Mac or PC for the first time launches the LaCie SetUp Assistant, which formats the drive for your operating system (HFS+ for Macs and NTFS for Windows).
It also gives you the option of installing a separate FAT32 partition on the drive of up to 32GB, which appears as a separate drive in your Finder/Windows Explorer and is accessible to both Mac and Windows users – great if you want to plug the drive into multiple computers.
The bundled LaCie-drive-specific versions of Genie BackUp Assistant (for Windows) and Intego BackUp Assistant (for Mac) are also pitched at the non-techie. Both are incredibly easy to use, offering a choice of backing up everything on your computer or just certain files and folders – unusually, the Mac software has more automated features than the Windows software.
The Hard Disk Max’s only weakness is its single interface. As a backup drive, it may not matter that it’s a lot slower to copy files than other drives. However, LaCie offers versions of most of its other drives with FireWire, FireWire 800 and/or eSATA connections – and it would have been great to at least have the option of a device that can back up large projects quicker. That said, at £213 for a 2TB drive, we’re not complaining too much.