LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt 2 hands-on review
LaCie's Little Big Disk external storage boxes have proved popular with creatives over the years. While the 'mini-toaster' design of its exterior chassis hasn't really changed – though it's now black rather than matte silver – the choice of drives and interfaces has grown as we've moved on from expecting hard drives to SSDs and from USB 2.0, FireWire and FireWire 800 to Thunderbolt – and now Thunderbolt 2.
The company popped into our offices to give us a hands-on demo of the Thunderbolt 2 version of the Little Big Disk. It's still surprisingly small – about the same size as a larg hardback book – and in black I'd say it's more appealing than in silver, even next to a MacBook Pro. It's dark shade will look great next to Thunderbolt 2-enabled desktop workstations such as Apple's new Mac Pro or HP's Z2, Z420, Z620 or Z820.
Colour-changed aside, the main reason why LaCie hasn't changed the case design is that it looks like it does for a very good reason, its rippled case helps dissipate heat so that it needs to use its fan less than it would otherwise. The Thunderbolt 2 version of the Little Big Disk has a thermoregulated fan – so it changes speed depending on how much it's needed – and we didn't hear a whisper from it, even when 4K video was streamed from it.
To allow you to edit 4K from the Little Big Disk, it has two 512GB SSDs with your data striped across both of them in a RAID 0 configuration. If you like, you could mirror them (RAID 1) for security, but you'd lose the performance benefit of Thunderbolt 2. The drives are connected to the Thunderbolt interface using PCI Express, so there are no bottlenecks to slow down performance.
LaCie showed us the Little Big Disk Thunderbolt 2's performance by connecting it to a MacBook Pro and running two benchmarks designed to test whether storage is up to the performance needs of HD, 2K and 4K video editing, created by capture hardware manufacturers: the AJA System Test and Blackmagic Speed Test.
In the AJA System Test (above), we saw a write speed of over 1,200MBps and a read speed of over 1,350Mbps – more than enough for 4K editing. Blackmagic's tests allow you to check if your storage is fast enough for particular formats from DV through HD and 2K to full-on 4K – and the LaCie Little Big Disk with Thunderbolt 2 passed all without breaking a sweat.
LaCie has promised to send us a review unit of the LaCie Little Big Disk with Thunderbolt 2 soon – so keep an eye on the site, or follow us on Facebook.
LaCie also turned up with its latest of its Extreme Design range – where it's placed hard drives in unusual and stylish enclosures. The Sphère (below) is a USB 3.0 1TB hard drive wrapped in a silver-plated ball that's so shiny you can easily see myself (with camera), Digital Arts' technical editor Andrew Harrison and some of LaCie's product team in it.
It looks lovely – though LaCie had to handle it with the white gloves you expect to see on a snooker referree to avoid fingerprints. At £310 plus VAT, it's not a product for people looking for utilitarian value – but it's something we'd all like to have on our desks as an ornament.