LaCie Starck (320GB, USB 2.0)
LaCie has a history of impressive storage products, including the 2big Dual and the 4big Quadra. The Starck is not as impressive from a technical standpoint. It’s a rather basic 320GB or 500GB USB 2.0 portable hard drive.
Yet, the drive has one special feature: LaCie offers an additional Windows driver referred to as USB Boost. We found that the driver did make a difference, but it didn’t provide the 33% performance increase mentioned on LaCie's Web site. Since you probably wouldn't have the driver handy when attaching to a new host PC, we decided not to use the proprietary driver on our benchmark suite, especially since it only works on Windows systems. However, you can find the throughput diagram that reflects using the Turbo USB driver at the bottom of this page.
The Starck is a new design by Philippe Starck, a French product designer. A solid aluminum case is the basis for the product, sporting a 2mm thick enclosure that makes the drive virtually uncrushable in everyday life. Unfortunately, it also makes the drive rather heavy (355 g, almost twice as much as others). Whether or not it will be more robust than other drives will also depend on the way you treat the drive. LaCie offers a two-year warranty for the Starck.
Installing the Turbo USB driver from LaCie improves the sequential throughput from 32 MB/s to 40 MB/s reads.