The Toughbook of USB drives is here. LaCie’s new XtremKey USB drive has been advertised as “the most adventurous USB drive,” having undergone U.S. Military Grade Testing. The promotional video that LaCie released a few days ago shows a XtremKey that survived getting run over by a truck, thrown in an oven, and even encased in a block of ice. Not only is this USB key apparently neigh-indestructible, it also boasts 4GB of online storage (in addition to the 16 Gigs on the drive) and fast read/write speeds. We ran the XtremKey through its paces to see if it’s really what it’s cracked up to be.
The first thing that struck us about the ExtremKey was its unusual design, created by French sculptor Constance Guisset. The postmodern appearance is certainly unique, though we don’t tend to use flash drives for fashion statements.
LaCie claims the XtremKey reaches read speeds of up to 40MBps and write speeds of up to 30 MBps. In our tests, the read speeds were quite good, averaging about 29.61 MBps when transferring a 5GB folder of mixed media and a 1.66GB video. However, when we did the same test for write speeds, the video transferred at 19.1 MBps and the 5GB file took considerably longer, moving at only 11.8 MBps. While this speed is by no means slow, it’s considerably less than the blazing fast top speed that LaCie is advertising.
Of course, the standout feature of the XtremKey is its durability, so we ran some tests of our own to see how it fared. Our first test was dropping the device multiple times from various distances. As expected, it survived without even one scratch or ding on its casing. The second test involved submerging the device in a cup of water and then putting it in a freezer for eight hours. When we took the cup out, the key was fully covered in ice. Once the ice melted, we plugged the XtremKey into a notebook and it still worked. We then put it in the office toaster to see how it could handle extreme heat. Once again, the XtremKey survived the harrowing ordeal. After our tests, we’re confident that the XtremKey can endure just about any scenario you can throw at it.
The 16GB model we tested also came with a code for 4GB of online space on Wuala, LaCie’s cloud storage service. Wuala runs in a Java applet that can be started in-browser without having to install the program directly to the hard drive. The interface is designed to closely resemble Windows Explorer, and as a result we found it easy to navigate. It is also worth noting that the cloud storage is completely separate from the data on the actual XtremKey, so you can organize both types of storage however you want.
Overall, the LaCie XtremKey greatly impressed us. Not only did we prove that it can indeed persevere in a variety of extreme conditions, but the drive speeds are solid and the bonus cloud storage adds even more convenience. The XtremKey starts at $49.99 for 8GB (with 16GB, 32GB and 64GB versions available) and can be purchased from LaCie.com.