It’s not often that a computer accessory is so cute that upon pulling it from the box you want to hold it in your hand and start talking to it like a baby, but LaCie’s latest entry to their venerable portable hard drive series might just elicit such a response. Their Little Big Disk Quadra is now the cutest baby on the computer block, but don’t let its diminutive size deceive you – there’s a small powerhouse tucked into that itty-bitty shell. I got my hands on the 500GB model, and here’s the lowdown.
I can’t adequately describe in words exactly how small the Little Big Disk Quadra really is, only the accompanying photos can do it justice. Designed by Neil Poulton, Little Big Disk Quadra weighs in at a mere 1.4 lbs. with a 1.6″x3.3″x5.5″ frame, making it perfect for field work with a laptop. I own three other recent desktop LaCie hard drives – a 500GB and 1TB Big Disk Extreme and a 300GB d2 Quadra – and they look positively hulkish by comparison!
The Little Big Disk Quadra is no slouch when it comes to connections, either. It handles the current “big four”: eSATA, FireWire 400 and 800 and USB 2.0. Given the tight space on the drive case, LaCie has accomplished this task by excluding FireWire 400 ports, instead opting for a 9-pin to 6-pin cable, converting one of the dual FW800 ports to FW400. It’s the first time I’ve seen such a cable and I’m guessing anyone needing strictly FW400 will want to hit the Internet in search of extra cables or adaptors – I can see the included cable getting lost or misplaced, especially if the drive is used in a mobile situation as it’s clearly meant to. There is also an eSATA port and a mini USB 2.0 port and appropriate cables for them are also included.
Little Big Disk Quadra uses two 250GB drives with built-in RAID 0, so no configuration is necessary other than the standard formatting and partitioning. When I plugged the drive into my Apple G5 edit system under Mac OS X Leopard (10.5.2), a window popped open urging me to run a small piece of included software, LaCie Setup Assistant. For whatever reason, every time I ran it I got an error message: “LaCie Setup Assistant can not be launched from here. You can only launch LaCie Setup Assistant from its original location on a LaCie drive.” But that’s exactly what I was doing! I’m guessing it may have something to do with Leopard but fortunately, the setup software is not required and I was able to format and partition the drive without a problem using Apple Disk Utility as usual.
The 500 GB model reviewed here spins at 5,400 rpm (the same-priced 400GB version is 7,200 rpm) and all models feature a 16MB cache. Using FW800, LaCie claims a transfer rate of up to 100MB per second and a burst rate of up to 75-85MB per second, making it quite comparable to the Little Big Disk’s big brothers. In my own unscientific real-world test using Blackmagic Design’s Disk Speed Test, the little drive had a disk read data rate of 46MB per second and a write data rate of 35MB per second, comparing favorably to my other LaCie drives and more than sufficient for standard DV or HDV work.
Finally, the Little Big Disk Quadra is suitable for both Mac and PC. The included AC adaptor is only necessary for eSATA or USB users, which is another plus for the tiny drive on the field (one less cable is always welcome). As with all of their drives, LaCie includes a removable drive stand, quick install manual and a CD-ROM containing their one-click backup software as well as EMC Retrospect for Windows and Mac and Silverkeeper for automatic file backup and verification on the Mac only.
I’ve always been a fan of LaCie’s hard drive products, and suffice it to say that their Little Big Disk Quadra continues their grand tradition of quality, attractive products at an affordable price. I think you’ll find this one a perfect complement to your mobile editing setup and likewise, it’s just as comfortable back at home base as well. Best of all, this adorable baby will stay the same cute, cuddly size and give you years of unconditional love instead of diaper changing, growing pains and teenage angst.
J.R. Bookwalter is an independent filmmaker whose credits over the last 22 years include The Dead Next Door, Ozone and Witchouse 2 & 3. He owns Tempe Entertainment (tempevideo.com), a DVD and broadband distributor based in Uniontown, Ohio.
LACIE LITTLE BIG DISK QUADRA (500 GB)
DV SCORE: 4.5 out of 5
PROS: Big RAID 0 storage and performance in a tiny package.
CONS: FireWire 400 users need to use included adaptor cable.
BOTTOM LINE: An adorable little addition to the LaCie portable hard-drive family that will win your heart (and wallet).
MSRP: $539.99 (as reviewed)