capsule review

Little Big Disk 200GB FireWire hard drive

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If you own a Mac long enough, your media library will eventually outgrow its humble beginnings and demand more space. If you’re looking for a respectable amount of fast external storage, the bus-powered LaCie Little Big Disk mobile hard drive is a top performer compared with other compact portable drives in its class—but at a price. Its solid yet stylish metal enclosure gives it surprising heft considering its small size, yet it is still light enough (about one and a half pounds) to tote from home to office and back.

Getting the Little Big Disk up and running is straightforward. The drive can either lie flat or operate vertically after attaching the supplied stand. The drive can be powered from an available FireWire 400 or 800 port on your Mac, or you can use the supplied AC adapter and connect via USB. Once installed, the drive automatically mounts onto your Mac desktop, ready to use. Its two FireWire 800 ports allow you to daisy-chain additional FireWire connections, although the relatively short cables that ship with the drive require it to be close at hand no matter which port you use.

A blue activity LED on the front indicates when the drive is accessing data from your hard drive. The Little Big Disk can boot OS X via FireWire, a feature not supported by all FireWire drives these days. When compared to other portable drives we looked at, the Little Big Disk was the winner in all three of our benchmarks, speeding past the next fastest drive, Rocsecure’s Rocbit 2B 100GB (   ), by 25 percent in the file copy test and by 20 percent in the Photoshop test. Behind this peppy performance is the fact that, internally, the drive is actually two drives configured as a level-0 (striped) RAID.

An important thing to note: Small, portable, bus-powered drives built around 2.5-inch mechanisms (the actual drive inside the case) top out at 160GB capacity. Because the LaCie Little Big Disk uses two drives, you can get up to 320GB of bus-powered portable storage. Thus, the drive is more expensive and bulkier than most portable drives (but much smaller than most desktop drives) plus it’s bus powered, really fast, and available in capacities twice that of other portable drives.

timed trials

Copy 1GB to Drive 0:35
Duplicate 1GB on Drive 0:52
Low Memory Photoshop CS Suite 1:37

Scale = Minutes: Seconds

How We Tested: We ran all tests with the FireWire drives connected to a dual-2.5GHz Power Mac G5 with Mac OS X 10.3.9 installed and 512MB of RAM. We tested the drive using FireWire 800. (In cases where a drive does not have FireWire 800, we use FireWire 400.) We copied a folder containing 1GB of data from our Mac’s hard drive to the external hard drive to test the drive’s write speed. We then duplicated that file on the external drive to test both read and write speeds. We also used the drive as a scratch disk when running our low-memory Adobe Photoshop CS Suite test. This test is a set of four tasks performed on a 150MB file, with Photoshop’s memory set to 50 percent.—Macworld Lab Testing by James Galbraith and Jerry Jung


Price per gigabyte $3.00
Connectors FireWire 800 (2), FireWire 400 (1) USB 2.0 (1)
Rotational Speed 7200 RPM
Other capacities 160GB ($329), 320GB ($699)

Macworld’s buying advice

If you’re looking for a small and relatively fast external drive, and you don’t mind paying a premium, the LaCie Little Big Disk 200GB lets you take your media library with you wherever you go. It delivers fast performance and gives you the maximum number of connection options, all in an attractive and portable package.

[ Jeffy Milstead is a Macworld Lab alumnus and writer living in San Francisco. ]

LaCie Little Big Disk 200GB FireWire hard drive.
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