Hands-on: LaCie Porsche Design hard drives are an affordable luxury, from $105

Porsche Design is partnering with LaCie again to bring some style to external hard drives this holiday shopping season, to be available in Best Buy, Amazon as well as Porsche Design Stores.

Let's face it, most of us will never drive a Porsche car in real life. Heck, most of us have never even set foot inside a Porsche Design Store even though it has locations around the world. But the luxury brand knows it can reach fans who always need more digital storage space, so it has once again teamed up with hard drive maker LaCie to bring some style to storage devices. (They last collaborated on a hard drive in 2003)

Porsche is offering two different lines of hard drives: the P 9230 Desktop Drive is intended for home use so it is available in both 1 TB and 2 TB capacities, while the P 9220 Mobile Drive is designed for on-the-go storage needs so it comes in three sizes -- 500 GB, 1 TB with a 750 GB only available in Porsche Design Stores.

All the LaCie hard drives have the same solid, brushed aluminum, minimalistic look with just a slit of white LED light to indicate that it is turned on, and a port on the back that connects the device to your computer's USB port. They offer both USB 2.0 and 3.0 connectivity so when paired with a USB 3.0-enabled computer, you can enjoy transfer rates up to 5 GB per second. Plus, LaCie is including 10 GB of the cloud-based secured backup storage service Wuala for free, but did not specify how long this service will be available free of charge in the press release. (There is also a power port on the back of the P 9230 Desktop Drive; its dimensions are 4.7" X 7.5" and 1.5" thick, and weighs 1 kg.)

Although I don't have a computer with USB 3.0 to test the file transfer speed on the 500 GB Mobile Drive I have on-hand, I can say it runs very cool and quiet, so much so I thought it was a solid state hard drive. The P 9220 line is definitely compact: it is nearly as long as and only slightly wider than my Samsung Infuse, with a depth of 0.6". At 8.5 ounce, it is hardly a brick that you'd be reluctant to travel with but I wouldn't recommend sticking it in your pocket either due to its sharp edges and corners. The hard drive's matte finish means it is not prone to fingerprints so it will be one less thing for you to keep clean. My only peeve with the storage device is that it tends to go into sleep mode when not in use so it may disappear from your device list under My Computer from time-to-time, but should reappear within a couple of seconds.

Unlike other Porsche Design products, these hard drives will be widely available in mass retailers like Best Buy and Amazon, in time for this holiday shopping season. At $105 for the 500 GB Mobile Drive, these LaCie external drives could top many grown-ups' wish lists this year.

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