Small and sturdy, the LaCie Rikiki USB 3.0 drive comes with a wealth of software, and it includes online backup, to boot. But do the transfer speeds make this $99.99 aluminum-clad 1TB drive worth the investment?
Despite having an aluminum enclosure, the LaCie Rikiki was the lightest USB 3.0 drive we tested. At just 7.1 ounces, it was lighter than the plastic 7.2-ounce Western Digital My Passport Essential and less than half as hefty as the 14.4-ounce Iomega eGo Portable Hard Drive. While the aluminum enclosure feels solid and seems capable of withstanding some abuse, the drive is not rated for 7-foot drops like the Iomega drive.
Setting up the LaCie is easy but a little time-consuming. First, you install the local backup software, called Genie Backup Assistant 8.0. Of the apps included with USB 3.0 drives we've tested, this program offered the most advanced features for choosing which files to archive; you can even selectively choose Windows settings files. The tree structure interface, while a bit dated, also worked well. However, we preferred the Western Digital backup software because it shows visual gauges as a backup progresses. The Genie program does support scheduled automatic backups, though. Unlike the Buffalo Ministation Stealth, there's no encryption software.
Next, you can install the Wuala online backup program. LaCie owns the company, and to register you need to enter the serial number for the drive. Once you do, you qualify for a free 10GB subscription for one year, a $30 value. Wuala requires Java, and that took some extra time to install--about 5 minutes. During setup, you can also choose to format the drive for Mac or PC, a unique feature.
Disk transfer times for the LaCie drive were not that impressive. It took 1 minute 40 seconds to copy a 5GB folder of documents and media files to the drive a rate of 51.1 MBps, the second slowest. The only drive slower was the Western Digital My Passport Essential SE, which took 3 seconds longer. The fastest drive in our roundup was the Buffalo Ministation Stealth, which was able to write the files in 1:20, a rate of 64MBps.
Copying files from the LaCie drive was even slower: It took 2 minutes and 20 seconds (36.6 MBps), the slowest of all the drives. By comparison, the Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex was nearly twice as fast--1:12, a rate of 71.1 MBps.
Overall, the $99.99 aluminum LaCie Rikiki drive feels durable and provides some useful extra software. We also like that it offers an online backup program. Still, its poor file transfer speeds drop it to the bottom of the pack. At this price, we prefer the Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex, which doesn't have as tough an enclosure, but provides much faster speeds and a strong suite of utilities