about MacBooks and NO Firewire

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about MacBooks and NO Firewire

Postposted on Fri Oct 24, 2008 12:37 pm

Last week, I went to my local Apple store and actually SAW the new MacBooks and MacBook Pros. What truly disappoints me is the lack of Firewire support (of any kind, FW400 or FW800) on the MacBooks. Otherwise I would say that the new MacBooks are a grand slam and the MBPs are a solid double.

So what do you think?
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Re: about MacBooks and NO Firewire

Postposted on Fri Oct 24, 2008 1:30 pm

There are those who are lamenting what appears to be the end of Target Disk Mode, or who have Firewire audio/video interfaces. To the first people, I say "that's what Time Machine is for". To the second people, I have to believe they're "pros" (or at least fancy themselves as the people that Apple refers to as "prosumers") and I say get a MBP. It's not a big deal to me becuase I have nothing Firewire anymore.
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Re: about MacBooks and NO Firewire

Postposted on Fri Oct 24, 2008 2:06 pm

I lament it because I like Target Disk Mode for when parts of your computer die horribly, and Time Machine doesn't serve as a replacement because it requires extra disks.

But yeah, it's sad but probably not a big deal; though I'd like to see just how many people have Firewire-only video cameras -- that's what I'd be most concerned about.
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Re: about MacBooks and NO Firewire

Postposted on Fri Oct 24, 2008 2:56 pm

Dumb move IMO.

Anecdotal evidence suggests Firewire use is higher among Mac users than others, which makes its omission strange. I can imagine arts students and amateur A/V enthusiasts aren't looking fondly on this. The MB Pro has a too high entry price point for an affordable portable A/V workstation.

Just adding an ExpressCard slot would have alleviated most of these issues.
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Re: about MacBooks and NO Firewire

Postposted on Fri Oct 24, 2008 3:01 pm

That's the thing: no FW and no Express Card for MacBook :evil: ! Steve, WTF :x ?!

I just looked up ExpressCard on Newegg.com, and they have several affordable ones, including at least one for $55. Again...... WTF?
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Re: about MacBooks and NO Firewire

Postposted on Fri Oct 24, 2008 3:07 pm

crazybus wrote:The MB Pro has a too high entry price point for an affordable portable A/V workstation.

Market segmentation at its best.
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Re: about MacBooks and NO Firewire

Postposted on Fri Oct 24, 2008 3:22 pm

everyone freaked out over lack of floppy and SCSI support in the iMac, too.

SNM: Your reasoning about TDM being a problem is kind of flawed - Time machine requires an extra disk, but TDM requires a whole other computer.
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Re: about MacBooks and NO Firewire

Postposted on Fri Oct 24, 2008 5:20 pm

derFunkenstein wrote:everyone freaked out over lack of floppy and SCSI support in the iMac, too.

SNM: Your reasoning about TDM being a problem is kind of flawed - Time machine requires an extra disk, but TDM requires a whole other computer.


One could easily make a case against floppy and SCSI: the former was far too small given modern file sizes, and the latter is simply too expensive given IDE and especially SATA. Thr case for Firewire is simple: ever used a USB HDD such as the new iPod Classics (5G forward) or any external HDD for backup? USB is completely host-dependent and has lower effective throughput than FW400. Period.

As for the market segmentation argument, that may be true. The only thing is is that the last-generation MacBook lacked an ExpressCard/34 slot too, so by definition the MB could not add any external functionality that was not built in. I am simply disappointed that the new MB lacks FW400 or FW800 simply for backup use, whether TDM is used or not. Otherwise, the MB is almost perfect.
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Re: about MacBooks and NO Firewire

Postposted on Fri Oct 24, 2008 6:24 pm

axeman wrote:
Flying Fox wrote:
crazybus wrote:The MB Pro has a too high entry price point for an affordable portable A/V workstation.

Market segmentation at its best.


I'll add when was "affordable portable A/V workstation" a market segment that ever existed? If you want a laptop for video editing, you obviously have too much disposable income. Seriously, what's with the laptop love affair? Ergonomically, laptops suck. Not to mention, you're going to need a bigger display for anything serious anyhow, so you're already part way there to buying a second machine. Serious computing demands a desktop.
I've actually known quite a few people who've done video editing on a macbook. Granted, it's in no way ideal, but for folks who are just editing SD and can't afford two machines or need the portability of a notebook, it makes some sense.

Note that by A/V workstation I also meant audio recording. You don't need an uber-powerful machine just to mix a few tracks, but most of the external audio interfaces (at least the good ones) use firewire.
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Re: about MacBooks and NO Firewire

Postposted on Fri Oct 24, 2008 8:00 pm

Yeah, actually my sister just bought a MB last month, and her main concern was "I want something I can do some video editing and stuff on." I know a lot of consumers look to the laptop to be the everything machine, and their definition of everything includes making home movies with iMovie/WMM.

Her intent is by no means professional, but if she had been a few weeks late, she would have been buying a PC. ("I'm a Mac laptop, and if you want to get that baby footage off your camcorder, you'll have to spend WAAYY more.")
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Re: about MacBooks and NO Firewire

Postposted on Tue Oct 28, 2008 9:15 am

There seems to be a pretty good selection* of USB audio interfaces from some of the biggest names - Edirol, M-Audio, E-Mu...I don't see how you're losing anything on an audio front unless you have existing hardware (which, yes, that's an additional expense, but again I liken it to the original iMac without its ADB, parallel, serial, or SCSI ports).

In a documented email response that I can't find right now, The Steve told someone lamenting the lack of firewire that new HD video cameras are generally USB-capable. The continued existence of Macbooks with firewire on the low-end is a nod to the person who's too cheap to buy a new camera. ;)

This is a warning shot to professionals - SAS and USB are Apple's pro future. FW800 will be next. This ain't grandstanding or Apple apologetics on my part; good or bad, it's just where they're coming from.

*(and zzounds is a very reputable reseller; I've bought several things from them in the past).
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Re: about MacBooks and NO Firewire

Postposted on Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:10 pm

Question, slightly related, but lets say you're a Macbook owner and you have an external disk w/ Time Machine enabled, and you're thinking about upgrading that 80GB hard drive to something bigger.

How do you upgrade to your new harddrive? I'm merely guessing :

- Install new hard drive into external case that Time Machine hard drive (hereon: TM) is in. Plug in new hard drive.

- Format using Disk Utility the new hard drive in HFS+

- ???

- Profit from using new hard drive but with all your account info, settings, and files from before.
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Re: about MacBooks and NO Firewire

Postposted on Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:43 pm

sounds exactly right with one addition: use TM to transfer your old data onto your new HDD.
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Re: about MacBooks and NO Firewire

Postposted on Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:49 pm

riviera74 wrote:sounds exactly right with one addition: use TM to transfer your old data onto your new HDD.


So does that mean you install the new hard drive and boot from the OS X DVD ?
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Re: about MacBooks and NO Firewire

Postposted on Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:54 pm

You CAN boot from the Leopard disk and restoring from Time Machine is in the Utilities menu, but I have not been successful the one time I tried. It hung out like that OVERNIGHT and never got anywhere. So I installed OS X on the new drive and used the Migration Assistant you get on first boot (the last option is to restore from Time Machine). Took about 90 minutes to move all of my Library stuff (tons of Apple Loops and other things involved with Logic and three of the Jam Packs) and my docs (including about a 12GB iTunes library).

edit: Careful, though - once you do that, the OS X install and the Time Machine backup are no longer linked. You'll need to right-click the Time Machine icon on your dock (or hold option when clickign the Time Machine icon in the menu) and choose Browse Other Time Machine Disks. That'll let you use that backup for your continued enjoyment.
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Re: about MacBooks and NO Firewire

Postposted on Tue Dec 30, 2008 5:04 pm

ssidbroadcast wrote:Question, slightly related, but lets say you're a Macbook owner and you have an external disk w/ Time Machine enabled, and you're thinking about upgrading that 80GB hard drive to something bigger.

How do you upgrade to your new harddrive? I'm merely guessing :

- Install new hard drive into external case that Time Machine hard drive (hereon: TM) is in. Plug in new hard drive.

- Format using Disk Utility the new hard drive in HFS+

- ???

- Profit from using new hard drive but with all your account info, settings, and files from before.


It's not quite clear what you're trying to upgrade : the external TM backup drive or the internal Mac HD ?

If it's the later case, it's this easy :

1) Open your mac and replace HD with a bigger one.
2) Boot your mac with the Leopard install DVD.
3) Plug in External TM backup drive and select Restore from backup.
4) Wait till its done and reboot your mac. You are now have a bigger internal drive but with all your data intact and with more free space.
5) ???
6) Profit

OR if you are upgrading your TM external drive :

1) Plug in new TM external drive.
2) Format it as HFS+ and use it for TM backups. Previous backups will be kept on the old drive.
3) ???
4) Profit ?

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Re: about MacBooks and NO Firewire

Postposted on Wed Dec 31, 2008 10:08 am

derFunkenstein wrote:There are those who are lamenting what appears to be the end of Target Disk Mode, or who have Firewire audio/video interfaces. To the first people, I say "that's what Time Machine is for". To the second people, I have to believe they're "pros" (or at least fancy themselves as the people that Apple refers to as "prosumers") and I say get a MBP. It's not a big deal to me becuase I have nothing Firewire anymore.


I could not disagree with you more. For one thing, the need for external storage does not define the "pro" market. Everyone needs that and Firewire, both 400 and 800 varieties, are still faster than USB of any flavor. And as slick as Time Machine is, it's no substitute for having directly attached storage capacity. It's ridiculous for someone to have to pay $500 additional for Firewire AND have to get a larger notebook in the bargain. The MacBook is simply underfeatured. Period.
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Re: about MacBooks and NO Firewire

Postposted on Wed Dec 31, 2008 10:28 am

well, buy your next machine now. I think you're going to see it disappear from at least certain iMacs at MacWorld (and probably the Mini, too). When USB 3.0 becomes standard, you'll see Firewire disappear entirely across the range - pro Macs included.

Apple has shown a tendency in the Jobs II era to dump things a little early. Floppy drives, onboard SCSI, legacy serial ports...and that was just the iMac, and not even 5 months after the iMac shipped, the blue G3 tower did the same thing.

Also, we need to note: for many folks, the difference between "fast enough" and "faster still" isn't worth an added cost. Adding an Express card slot and paying for a FW chipset would be an added cost.
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Re: about MacBooks and NO Firewire

Postposted on Wed Dec 31, 2008 11:37 am

derFunkenstein wrote:well, buy your next machine now. I think you're going to see it disappear from at least certain iMacs at MacWorld (and probably the Mini, too). When USB 3.0 becomes standard, you'll see Firewire disappear entirely across the range - pro Macs included.

Apple has shown a tendency in the Jobs II era to dump things a little early. Floppy drives, onboard SCSI, legacy serial ports...and that was just the iMac, and not even 5 months after the iMac shipped, the blue G3 tower did the same thing.

Also, we need to note: for many folks, the difference between "fast enough" and "faster still" isn't worth an added cost. Adding an Express card slot and paying for a FW chipset would be an added cost.



I agree with you quite often DrFunk, but not this time. USB/Firewire controllers generally come on one chip these days at little or no additional cost over a single purpose chip. This was an arbitrary decision that defies logic. Floppy drives, onboard SCSI, legacy serial ports, all were given up because they added no value. Floppy drives were too small to hold usefull data, SCSI was too expensive and added no real advantage to IDE and later SATA (especially when you look at capacity), and legacy ports really weren't necessary because apple had already moved its peripherals over to firewire and USB. Firewire is still viable and anyone who has used firewire for moving files around realizes how much faster it is than USB, even at the stock 400 speed.

So if there was little or no cost to add Firewire and there is still an advantage to keeping it for many customers, why not keep it? Especially when you do not offer a Mac Pro in the 13" format that includes it?

I don't think this is defensible. This was a decision made by fiat that limits the market for the product. The 13" segment divides into the ultra portable and the small laptop market. Ultra portables have certain tradeoffs that have to be made to achieve the format. The small laptop is about putting as many features as you can into the smaller format. Sony, HP, Dell, Acer, etc. have all been able to keep Express Card and Firewire (even though none of those companies have been huge Firewire supporters), and yet on this, Apple chooses to shortchange the Mac Book. This is just one of those inexplicable things that Apple does every once in a while that doesn't make a helluva lot of sense.

I certainly expect Apple to be one of the first on the USB3 bandwagon, but until that is available, it made no sense to drop Firewire. Even less sense to drop ExpressCard so that you could add it if you really needed it.

To be honest though, I've never really understood the whole differentiation between the MacBook and MacBook Pro. There is nothing wrong with segmenting your market into different lines, but it can be done by differentiating video cards, memory, cpus, etc., rather than crippling the I/O possibilities. Other companies seem to have figured this out, but Apple just hasn't.

With Apple, you have the choice between a mid-priced, but somewhat crippled 13" laptop and very expensive 15" and 17" that have every feature known to man. Yet if you look at Sony, they don't have that artificial limitation. They have 13" laptops that have plenty of features that don't break the bank, they have ultraportables that have some limitations (and carry a premium price), they have lower end 15" + 17" units, then they also have some break the bank models as well. Their segmentation is rational and offers different ways to to segment the market at each price point, rather than just charging more and adding more features as you increase screen size.

I realize that it's working for Apple right now, but I think if they really want more market share, they are going to have to segment a bit more wisely.
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Re: about MacBooks and NO Firewire

Postposted on Wed Dec 31, 2008 1:21 pm

crazybus wrote: The MB Pro has a too high entry price point for an affordable portable A/V workstation.

the macbook's screen resolution is way too low to get any serious work done. any real professional would probably get a 17 incher, anyone else can just use USB.
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Re: about MacBooks and NO Firewire

Postposted on Wed Dec 31, 2008 1:32 pm

Thresher, your response is well thought-out, and I understand where you're coming from, but we'll have to agree to disagree. I'm not entirely sure I *support* the decision to remove Firewire. As I said before, I don't own any firewire devices anymore so it doesn't really affect me. An Express Card slot would be nice, but even the 12" PowerBook was lacking PCMCIA, so "doing away with it" and "never adding it to begin with" is a fine line.

What I don't think is arguable is that if Firewire had been present on the Macbook, that $5 chip and whatever pennies + design changed required for adding the port would have been at a cost to the consumer. The entry-level Macbook keeps it, I think, because it's cheaper to not change anything. The aluminum Macbooks would not have started at $1299 though. They could have hit that price with FW400 and a 3/4 slot, but they wouldn't have.
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Re: about MacBooks and NO Firewire

Postposted on Wed Dec 31, 2008 1:36 pm

riviera74 wrote:Last week, I went to my local Apple store and actually SAW the new MacBooks and MacBook Pros. What truly disappoints me is the lack of Firewire support (of any kind, FW400 or FW800) on the MacBooks. Otherwise I would say that the new MacBooks are a grand slam and the MBPs are a solid double.

So what do you think?


Grand slam my butt. Look at all the complaints about the annoying glossy screen. There is quite a few people that don't like it and are quite vocal about it. I saw this thing in person and even in the Apple store the reflections were awful. Of course a matte screen isn't available any longer which is typical of Apple's motto: you can have it anyway you like as long as we tell you exactly how you can have it because we know what you need better than you do.

I also noticed that anything 1.0 from Apple usually turns out to be an awful product with many flaws. Good example would be the first Macbooks with many things failing on them. Sure they fix it after a while but when I shove out $1000+ for a system it better damn well work right out of the box and not after try #3 on their part.
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Re: about MacBooks and NO Firewire

Postposted on Wed Dec 31, 2008 1:51 pm

derFunkenstein wrote:Thresher, your response is well thought-out, and I understand where you're coming from, but we'll have to agree to disagree. I'm not entirely sure I *support* the decision to remove Firewire. As I said before, I don't own any firewire devices anymore so it doesn't really affect me. An Express Card slot would be nice, but even the 12" PowerBook was lacking PCMCIA, so "doing away with it" and "never adding it to begin with" is a fine line.

What I don't think is arguable is that if Firewire had been present on the Macbook, that $5 chip and whatever pennies + design changed required for adding the port would have been at a cost to the consumer. The entry-level Macbook keeps it, I think, because it's cheaper to not change anything. The aluminum Macbooks would not have started at $1299 though. They could have hit that price with FW400 and a 3/4 slot, but they wouldn't have.


The 13" is not taking the place of the 12". It's a totally different beast, as demonstrated by Apple's decision to make a true ultraportable with the Air. The cost of drilling an additional hole in the aluminum woud be minimal, if anything. I can agree with the Express Card adding cost (minimal), but I am willing to bet the contacts for that are on the motherboard and just not hooked up. The problem with the Express Card is having enough room for it in the case, not cost efficiencey.

No matter how you slice it, this was done for inscrutable reasons that have nothing to do with cost. It has more to do with Jobs tastes, his vision for the product, and a weird sense of market segmentation. There is nothing really to defend here, just accept and move along. I just think it was at best unwise and at worst, a real roadblock to market growth.
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