4 star rating

LaCie Fuel Review

Pros: Lots of storage; Fantastic iOS integration; Attractive rugged design; Fast USB 3.0 speeds
Cons: Shorter battery life than predecessor; Wireless mode requires proprietary software
The Verdict: The LaCie Fuel provides a handy 1TB of wireless storage for those on the move and an easy-to-use app.

REVIEW

SPECIFICATIONS

There's only so much storage space on mobile devices, but what if you want to take a few movies with you on a cross-country trip? Essentially a rebranded and repackaged Seagate Wireless Plus drive, the LaCie Fuel is a 1TB portable hard drive that lets you stream high-def content to your smartphone, tablet or laptop. Find out why this $199 accessory is worth the investment.

Article Continued Below

Design

LaCie Fuel

At 4.5 x 4.5 x 0.9 inches, the Fuel's design is meant to resemble a small fuel can, complete with an orange "handle" that's purely aesthetic. The case is made of a rough-textured gray plastic that feels as sturdy as its rugged design suggests. While not designed for tossing, the LaCie Fuel feels like the kind of sturdy tech you can throw against a wall.

The Seagate Wireless Plus looks more like a traditional hard drive, measuring 5 x 3.5 x 0.78 inches, and weighs 9 ounces, compared to the Fuel's 9.7 ounces.

Despite its rugged plastic exterior, the Fuel takes a minimalist approach to design. A power button, a USB 3.0 micro port and two LEDs (one for activity and one for battery life) are all you get.

MORE: Chromebook vs. Tablet: Which Should You Buy?

Setup

In addition to its wireless functions, the LaCie Fuel can be used as a traditional portable hard drive. Simply plug it into a free USB port on your computer.

When you're ready to go wireless, hit the power button, and connect to the Fuel via Wi-Fi. The Fuel also has a pass-through Wi-Fi connection that keeps both the hard drive and your devices online. When you're in the Seagate Media app, you choose your preferred Wi-Fi connection under Settings, and it connects. It's all pretty easy.

App

LaCie Fuel

The plug-and-play ethos of the LaCie Fuel's design carries over to the very clean Seagate Media app, available for Android, iOS and Kindle devices. (You can also browse files on your notebook using your browser.) Movies, photos and music are presented in a thumbnail mode, but files can also be viewed in a more traditional list view.

The Fuel does not operate like a traditional external hard drive in wireless mode. Instead, it functions more like an NAS (network-attached storage), allowing you to access the device via the Seagate Media app or your local network. That means you're also stuck with local-network Wi-Fi speeds, which can be much slower than USB or Ethernet. In our tests, the drive rarely delivered speeds higher than 4 MBps — making the transfer of a 5GB file a very long chore. The limitations of Wi-Fi are mitigated when the device is used as advertised: The Fuel is fantastic for streaming big movies, showing off photos or just listening to MP3s.

MORE: 25 Best Android Apps

Performance

LaCie Fuel

The Fuel is quick when plugged into a laptop, thanks to USB 3.0. Copying 5GB of multimedia files from the drive to our notebook took 1 minute and 15 seconds, a rate of 67.9 MBps. That's more than 20 MBps higher than the USB 3.0 average of 45.6 MBps. And writing from a PC to the drive was just as speedy, at 74.8 MBps. That's also 20 MBps faster than the USB 3.0 average of 54.5 MBps.

Streaming worked like a charm. The LaCie Fuel had no problem delivering the 1080p version of the "Captain America 2" trailer to three devices at once, just as promised. We saw dropped frames when we attempted to stream to a fourth device, but LaCie doesn't promise to support streaming for more than three gadgets. However, the Fuel can be connected to five devices at once.

Battery Life

When streaming a 480p video continuously, the Fuel lasted a respectable 8 hours and 5 minutes on a charge. Still, that's almost 2 hours less than Seagate's claim of 10 hours. When we streamed 720p video, the battery life halved, clocking in at only 4:10. With a 1080p video, the Fuel managed 3:10 — a full 40 minutes worse than last year's Seagate Wireless Plus, which lasted 3:50. That's still better than the less than 3 hours the Gauntlet 320 lasted.

MORE: Battery Life Champs: The Longest-Lasting Gadgets

Verdict

LaCie FuelEasy-to-use software, solid battery life, a hefty 1TB of storage and a fair $199 price tag make the LaCie Fuel a great external hard drive for your smartphone, tablet or notebook when you're sitting on the plane or stuck in the car for a long trip. The Seagate Wireless Plus ($199, 1TB) performs equally well and is slightly lighter, but those looking for a design that's a little flashier and more durable will really like the Fuel.

Tags: LaCie Fuel, LaCie, Storage, reviews, backup, business, portable hard drives, hard drives

Technical Specifications
LaCie Fuel
http://www.lacie.com/


Capacity
Rotational Speed
Seek Time
Read/Write Speed
Storage Type
Size
Weight
FIND A REVIEW
Laptops
All Product Types Accessories eReaders Laptops Networking Projectors Smartphones Software Storage Tablets
All Subcategories
All Subcategories All-Purpose Budget Business Desktop Replacement Gaming Multimedia Netbook Nettop Rugged Student Tablet PCs Ultraportable
Brand
Acer Alienware Apple Archos ASUS AVADirect Averatec BeagleBone BenQ CTL Corp. CyberPowerPC Dell Digital Storm eMachines Emtec Eurocom Everex Fujitsu GammaTech Gateway General Dynamics Getac Gigabyte Google Hercules HP HTC iBuyPower Intel Lenovo Maingear MSI Nokia Nvidia OCZ OLPC OQO Origin Panasonic Razer Sager Samsung Sony Sony PlayStation Sylvania Systemax TabletKiosk Toshiba Verizon Viewsonic Viliv Vizio VooDoo Workhorse PC ZT Systems
Minimum Rating
Any Rating Editor's Choice 4.5 Stars 4.0 Stars 3.5 Stars 3.0 Stars
Screen Size
10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 20 21 4 5 6 7 8 9
Resolution
1024x576 1024x600 1024x768 1136 x 768 1200X800 1280 x 720 1280x1024 1280x768 1280x800 1366x678 1366x768 1440x1050 1440x900 1600x768 1600x900 1680x1050 1680x945 1792 x 768 1900x1080 1920x1080 1920x1200 2560 x 1440 2560 x 1600 2560 x 1700 2880 x 1620 2880 x 1880 3200 x 1800 800x400 800x480
Weight Range
10.1 - 12.0 pounds 12.1 - 14.0 pounds 14.1 - 16.0 pounds 2 lbs 2 pounds and under 2+ lbs 2.1 - 4.0 pounds 4.1 - 6.0 pounds 6.1 - 8.0 pounds 8.1 - 10.0 pounds Over 16 pounds Under 2 pounds
more options
SUBSCRIBE