LaCie is known for striking hard drive designs, but the industrial-looking Blade Runner takes our breath away. Its aluminium body is cut away to look like a parallel series of vertically oriented blades. From a distance, it's like an evolution of the heatsink design seen in other LaCie drives.

Look closely and you'll see what seems to be a blob of metal intersected by the blades, in which the disk is housed. On the right-most blade is the power button and drive activity light, in the form of a plus symbol that signals Philippe Starck's involvement. It flashes during disk activity, but at least it's on the side where it's less likely to distract.

Four rubber feet raise the drive a few millimetres off a desk. It's just a shame, though, that the drive is so bulky: it takes up quite a lot of surface space.

The drive has a USB3 connection, so it works faster on recent Macs and more slowly with older models. That the USB and power connectors sit in a recessed area on the bottom of the drive is inspired, because the two plugs don't just stick out at the back. Instead, the cables gracefully emerge from between the blades.

The drive is capable of impressive peak speeds. QuickBench's sequential read and write tests reached peaks of 193.4 and 193.7MB/second, respectively, with the average transfer rates not far behind on 163.7 and 162.8MB/ second. Even its slowest sequential speeds 30.1 and 27.9MB/second, achieved when writing very small files, are competent. The drive even held up well in the random read and write tests, averaging 28.6 and 89MB/second, respectively.

But make no mistake that the drive's real appeal is its design. The drive's number in the limited 9,999-unit production run is stamped discreetly on its left blade.

Designer looks don't come cheap: the Blade Runner carries a premium of about half as much again over other 4TB USB3 drives, although they tend to be housed in plastic enclosures. When the drive's useful life is eventually over, though, you'll be left with an intriguing piece of art to display.