by Brian Beeler

LaCie Blade Runner by Philippe Starck Review

The LaCie Blade Runner is a 4TB external hard drive that's unlike any other on the market. While the tech specs feature big capacity and USB 3.0 connectivity, the real story is the drive's design and designer. When LaCie went to Philippe Starck to design an external drive, he indicated that beyond anything else, he didn't want it to look like an external drive. Mission accomplished. The end product is as much functional tech as it is desktop artwork; a combination that will appeal not only to Starck enthusiasts around the world, but anyone who's willing to invest a little more for a stylish piece.

The Blade Runner comes in a single 4TB capacity and includes a power cable and USB 3.0 cable in the box. LaCie also includes a one-year, 10GB subscription to their cloud storage service Wuala and a two-year warranty. The drive is available now with an MSRP of $299.99. 

LaCie Blade Runner Specifications

  • Capacity: 4TB (9000119)
  • Interface: USB 3.0
  • Software
    • LaCie Private/Public: password protection
    • Wuala 10GB 1 Year Secure Cloud Storage
    • LaCie Backup Assistant
    • Eco Mode
  • Dimensions : 141 x 193 x 74 mm / 5.6 x 7.6 x 2.9 in.
  • Weight : 2 kg / 4.4 lbs.

Design and Build

As the name implies, Starck drew heavy inspiration from the 1982 science-fiction movie Blade Runner. The enclosure is highlighted by an amorphous, liquid metal style interior around the hard drive itself, with a series of sharp slices that run through the enclosure's body. Carrying the sci-fi theme more universally, the design certainly builds on several themes that have appeared from the T-1000 in Terminator 2 to the this-is-why-I-hated-biology horse scene from The Cell. There are certainly other relevant references as well; hammering home the point that you can't look at this Starck design without thinking of years of sci-fi tech that has preceded this drive. 

Beyond the futuristic design, the enclosure itself is expectantly well built, per usual from LaCie. The Blade Runner is built from metal and weighs in at 4.4 pounds, a touch more robust that the typical plastic shell we normally find with external desktop hard drives. The design also allows for superb heat dissipation, with the blade slices acting as heat radiating elements. 

To turn the Blade Runner on or off, users press a plus-shaped momentary-contact button on the side of the unit. The button also plays double duty as an indicator light. It is orange when on, green in eco-power conserve mode.

Performance

Internally, the LaCie Blade Runner utilizes a Seagate Barracuda 4TB 7,200RPM hard drive. With its USB 3.0 interface, the Blade Runner was able to push 177.5MB/s read and 176.6MB/s write with a sequential workload, when connected to our Consumer Testing Platform. Impressive speeds for sure from a drive this large, and in aggregate, faster than Seagate's current 4TB GoFlex Desk external drive that uses a similar drive inside. 

Conclusion

The LaCie Blade Runner by Philipe Starck certainly isn't for everyone, this message is clear with the limited production run of 9,999 units. This is certainly a specialty product created by a designer who wanted something truly unique in a market where little stands out as aesthetically special. The Blade Runner certainly stands out, and with USB 3.0 and a 4TB capacity, it's going to find a home with both Mac and PC enthusiasts who appreciate modern design. 

While LaCie has historically charged a premium for their design, in this case they've gone very aggressive, barely charging more than bare 4TB drives on their own. In terms of connectivity, the Blade Runner only supports USB 3.0, which combined with its 7,200RPM hard drive allows it to push 177MB/s read and 176MB/s write. Mac enthusiasts would probably prefer Thunderbolt, but USB isn't holding this drive back any in terms of performance and gives the drive universal connectivity. 

Pros

  • Sci-fi design draws immediate attention
  • Limited run offers exclusivity
  • Fast transfer speeds

Cons

  •  No Thunderbolt interface

Bottom Line

The LaCie Blade Runner by Philippe Starck offers spectacular deisgn elements at a cost that's barely more than the 4TB hard drive inside. The drive offers nearly 180MB/s read and write performance, making the Blade Runner a great combination of both beauty and braun. 

Blade Runner Product Page

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