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Thanks to our ever-growing libraries of music, movies, photos, games, productivity apps, and everything else, the internal memory of our iOS devices doesn’t go quite as far as it used to. That’s where LaCie's new Fuel drive comes in. With the ability to hold more than 500 full-length films, 160,000 songs, or 190,000 photos, Fuel’s full terabyte of storage gives our iOS devices all the extra space you need, and its light, rugged enclosure won't add too much extra weight to your rig. Unfortunately, it comes with a few setup and security issues you’ll have to work around.
To beam your media, the drive creates its own Wi-Fi network, so all of your devices need to connect to the specialized Fuel network once it starts transmitting; the process ought to be painless, but it didn't always appear in our network list, a problem that was remedied by joining manually. The first time you link up you'll need to download the Seagate Media app for the final part of the setup process, where a PC-stye wizard will guide you through the remaining steps.
It's here where things go slightly awry. One of the options is to implement "concurrent mode," which allows your local network to pass through the Fuel so you can still use Internet while connected. It's an essential feature, but we were troubled to learn that the option to secure the network is turned off by default, giving anyone within range the ability to access your drive through a simple web portal (even if the main network is encrypted). There's also the ability to add a password to lock down your Fuel, but since Seagate doesn't prompt you, you'll need to head over to the network settings on each device to set one up.
The app itself isn't much to look at — the algae-tinted interface would have been outdated in iOS 4 — but once you select something to watch, it jumps to a new Safari tab. We experienced a few DRM-related hiccups, but for the most part streaming movies was fast and responsive, even when watching on multiple devices. Music and photos are handled right in the app, but the interface is so ugly and unintuitive, you probably won't be using it for anything other than videos; to that end, it lasted long enough to play three fairly lengthy flicks, falling in line with Seagate's eight-hour claims.
Loading media onto the drive is quick and easy with a supplied USB 3 cable, though you can opt to send files wirelessly or over the web (which obviously takes a good deal longer).
The bottom line. Fuel powers up your iOS device with a terabyte of storage, but its security flaws might have you playing with fire.
Mac OS X 10.6 or higher, iOS device
Excellent portability for such a high-capacity drive. Fast uploading of content via USB 3. Good streaming and battery life.
Serious security issues seem to be overlooked in the setup process. Occasional DRM snafus prevent streaming of movies.