The LaCie 250 GB Rugged Hard Disk with FireWire 800, FireWire 400, and USB2.0 is a great unit that is ideal for those with fire-wire ports built-in to their laptops and computers. Unfortunately while most Macs have fire-wire built-in, right now the majority of Windows based laptops do not. That is changing as more PCs are getting them built-in. I need drives for several computers, including Mac, Windows and Linux boxes. Suffice it to say that this drive is definitely a must own if you have a Mac and may even be worth installing a fire-wire card if you have a PC.
While it is no secret that I love my WD hard-drives, the LaCie drive definitely outperforms it in a few key areas. So depending on your needs, it may be well worth the small premium to pick up the LaCie.
Don't get me wrong, when it comes to value and best performance for your buck the Western Digital My Passport Essential 320GB USB 2.0 Portable Hard Drive (Intense Blue) is a great option. Like the LaCie, it has a variety of color options including black, red, white and blue. Of course changing colors on your LaCie is much easier than buying a different color WD drive when the mood strikes. The rugged color bands are interchangeable. The WD also doesn't have the "rugged" edges of the LaCie, and it only has USB 2.0 which makes it impractical for certain situations.
Namely, if you want to run something off your external drive, such as a program or a media library, the performance of USB alone is just not as good. Just ignore the specifications and numbers, because from first hand experience I can tell you fire-wire definitely performs faster for large backups or regular data access. It's just faster.
The LaCie is also more versatile. Even if you are planning on using it for USB only right now, having the fire-wire means that if you get another computer that is capable you already have the option built in. That may be a stretch, but if you are planning on getting a new laptop within the next year from one of the big brands you can pretty much plan on them having fire-wire.
Now there are a few slight advantages that the WD has over the LaCie. The LaCie is definitely slightly bigger and thicker, and it's also more expensive. Still, the difference is small enough that the pros will probably outweigh those small cons, especially for Mac users.
+ Great versatility with fire-wire 400, 800, and USB 2.0
+ Fire-Wire speeds give you better response times for online data access
+ Nice size with aluminum shell and "rugged" edges that hold up regular use
+ USB or FW powered, so no A/C required, which is great for portability
+ USB power sharing option allows you to hook up a USB hub, etc.
+ Works well on Windows Vista, XP and Mac OS X and older versions too
+ You can set up your own disk encryption for security and privacy
+ Nice looks, and the brushed surface scratches much less than my WD drives
+ Other color options for your rubber bumpers are sold separately
+ Turns on and off with your computer or easily ejected via system tray
+ Easy driver-less installation really works!
+ Included backup software is less buggy than WD and may be useful for some
+ 250 GB capacity is decent for most users, but I hope a larger size is coming SOON!
+ The 2 year warrantee is good, but not as good as WD's 3 and 5 year warrantees depending on model
- Priced higher than WD on a dollar per gigabyte basis
- Larger GB capacity drives not widely available from LaCie though they are offered by WD
- Form factor is slightly larger and thicker than the WD passport drive
- Warrantee is also shorter than WD
- The *rugged* thing may be oversold, and I don't recommend dropping it
- Still no standard Linux drivers or software included, but there are workarounds
- Have to spend your cash to get a case that should have been included
This drive is great or those who want a portable drive for backups or running a media library application like iTunes or Media Center. I only wish they sold it in larger capacities. The premium price may be worth it for those who need that extra edge in speed offered by fire-wire connectivity.