LaCie announced Thursday the Rugged eSATA external hard drive. Though external hard drives with an eSATA connection are not new, this appears to be the first drive that comes with a Power eSATA interface. This means its eSATA cable is also capable of powering the device, making the drive more portable.
The Power eSATA interface, also known as a USB-eSATA combo interface, combines the high transfer speeds of the eSATA standard with the USB standard's capability to draw juice from the computer.
The USB-eSATA combo interface has a slightly different connector than the standard eSATA and, unfortunately, is only available on select new laptops. With computers that don't have this technology built in (which is the majority for now), the Rugged eSATA external hard drive also works with standard eSATA ports, but then it will need the included USB power-sharing cable to draw power from another USB port.
For computers with no eSATA ports at all, the Rugged eSATA external hard drive also comes with a USB 2.0 port and will work like a normal bus-powered USB external hard drive.
Like many other products from LaCie, the new external hard drive is designed by Neil Poulton and features a scratch-resistant aluminum shell, internal antishock absorbers, and a shock-resistant rubber bumper. It's available now in a 500GB capacity and costs $160.
The new bus-powered eSATA is exciting, but it's worth noting that it is sort of unnecessary, considering the recent availability of USB 3.0 storage devices, such as the recently reviewed Seagate BlackArmor PS110 USB 3.0.
USB 3.0 is slated to be much faster than eSATA by up to 5Gbps, as opposed to 3Gbps of the existing SATA2 standard, and will be available in most new computers coming out later this year. Similar to USB 2.0, USB 3.0 has built-in bus-powering capability and is backward compatible with earlier versions of the USB standard.