LaCie pushes fast FireWire drive to 75GB

The company is releasing this week the LaCie 75GB FireWire HDD, a 3.5-inch drive that offers 7200-rotation-per-minute speeds for about $US580. It is available at the company's Web site and through resellers.

"We're targeting video professionals and specifically people who want size and speed," says Scott Phillips, chief executive officer (CEO) at LaCie USA. "They're looking for flicker-free production, and prefer external drives for flexibility."

LaCie says the drive will hold more than five hours of DVD (digital versatile disc) video or more than 100 CD Audio files.

High-speed everything

The new LaCie drive's FireWire technology--also called IEEE 1394--offers transfer speeds of up to 400 megabits per second, making it one of the fastest external port connections available to a PC or Macintosh system. It easily outruns conventional USB, which run at 12Mbps. (Coming soon: USB 2.0, with transfers of up to 480Mbps.)

Combine that blazing transfer speed with a drive that spins at 7200 rpm and holds 75GB of data, and you have a very big and fast external drive, Phillips says. The company's competitors at Maxtor announced a FireWire-based 80GB external hard drive last year, but it only spins at 5400 rpm. The fastest internal hard drives on the market currently offer speeds of 15,000 rpm.

In addition to fast speeds, FireWire also makes the new drive hot-swappable, which means you don't have to shut down your PC to plug in the drive, Phillips says. That makes it easy to share the drive with another PC user in the same office.

Despite its inherent mobility, the company isn't positioning the 75GB drive as a mobile solution. LaCie offers a full line of smaller FireWire-based drives specifically for mobile users who can treat it like "an expansive [Iomega] Jaz drive," Phillips says. In addition, the mobile drives offer both FireWire and USB connections.

FireWire adoption grows

It wasn't long ago that the majority of FireWire users owned an Apple computer, Phillips says. (The name FireWire actually comes from Apple; 1394 is the generic name, and Sony calls it I-Link.) Today, more PCs are shipping with the technology every day.

As major PC companies like Dell adopt FireWire, business is picking up at LaCie, Phillips says. "Were starting to find activity where we didn't expect it," he says.

Video editing is driving the adoption, he says. PC companies anxious to weather the industry downturn are looking for the next big thing, and video editing may be that application, he says.

Adding a FireWire Port to a PC offers connectivity to high-speed drives like the LaCie, as well as a host of audio and video devices, Phillips says.

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Tom Mainelli

PC World

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