Setting up the d2 Dual 8X is easy. If you're running Windows XP, plug it in and install the software. The documentation is a little thin--an unfortunate fact we discovered after encountering some problems with the drive on a Windows 98 SE system (our issue was with our system's USB interface, not the drive). The d2 Dual 8X will even work on a USB 1.1 connection, though of course it will read and write much slower.
LaCie has extensive experience making products for the design-conscious Macintosh market, and as a result, the d2 Dual 8X's housing is simple and elegant. While not quite as slick as the LaCie drives designed by F.A. Porsche, the d2 Dual 8X has an attractive matte-silver finish that should stand up to the trials of normal handling. The drive comes with USB and FireWire cables, and the 10-foot power cable should be long enough to reach just about any socket. LaCie even includes a piece of DVD-R media to get you started. There's no headphone jack on the front of the drive to let you listen to CDs directly, but that's a small matter.
As mentioned above, the d2 Dual 8X comes with software for Windows and Mac OS. Windows users get Roxio's Easy CD & DVD Creator 6.2, a suite of disc-burning tools that worked well for us (but has an uneven reputation), and DVDMax Player (for DVD playback), but no software for backing up a system. Mac users get Roxio Toast Lite--Roxio's comprehensive disc-burning utility--and LaCie's own SilverKeeper app for system backup.
LaCie's d2 Dual 8X is a strong performer and one of the faster drives we have tested, especially for an external burner. In the all-important DVD-write tests, with DVD+R the d2 Dual 8X came in behind only our Editors' Choice, Plextor's PX-708A internal drive; with DVD-R it delivered a competitive showing. The d2 Dual 8X also proved itself speedy with rewritable DVD media, both plus and dash.
LaCie backs the d2 Dual 8X with an industry-standard one-year limited warranty for U.S. customers. (Those lucky Europeans get two years.) The company offers free technical support by phone, weekdays from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT, although it's a toll call. You can also pose questions through the company's Web site, where you'll find a FAQ, online copies of product manuals, and downloadable drivers and utilities.