When is progress not progress? When looks come before use, and when you take one thing away without giving something else back, users respond. It turns out Mac users care about more than just aesthetics, whatever anyone tries to say. Photo: Ondra.

It should have been another home run for Apple today. The new MacBooks and MacBook Pros look like absolutely gorgeous, brilliantly-engineered, environmentally-friendly machines. And for many, the fact they run Mac OS is all you need to know. I really do look forward to seeing one of these machines in person. But in case you haven’t caught on, a lot of people aren’t exactly overjoyed. The loudest complaints: creating digital music and creating digital motion (ahem) are crippled by the lack of FireWire on the MacBook, a format Apple once championed.

Generally, Apple remade their entire line in the image of the MacBook Air: form over function, with design, beauty, and manufacturing excellence, even multi-touch gestures, but without a clear story on value and features. They removed key connectivity (FireWire, particularly on the MacBook) with nothing new to replace it. Talk about putting aesthetics first: some have speculated the FireWire port was removed on the MacBook because it would have necessitated making the case slightly thicker. They added a new connector for video without supporting some standards ordinary people want for video output. Instead of price breaks, they protected their price points, even edging up the mid-range MacBook by $100, which upset some folks – especially since there wasn’t as strong a left-brain rationale for the new models. Perhaps it’s partly the fault of how beautiful the machines are: they shine so brightly, it’s hard for the spec sheet — even the strongest parts of it — to hold up in the glare. (Or maybe that’s the non-optional gloss screen.)

Now, under the right conditions, that could have been a huge hit, except the people who care most about aesthetics already own the MacBook Air — and we’re currently in a global economic slump that’s arguably worse, statistically speaking, than anything that’s happened since Apple was founded. Apple’s case was to get people to make a sacrifice for luxury, right when they want to do just the opposite.

Where were these sentiments at their worst? As it happens, among the creative pros who are Apple’s most cherished users, and some of the press specialists who had been their strongest cheerleaders. That one little matter of the FireWire port turns out to be at the heart of the matter. Read through users’ complaints, and you hear some specifics about why FireWire isn’t ready to go the way of the floppy just yet:

  • Eugenia’s Rants and Thoughts links various complaints, and points out you can “just buy a DELL Vostro 1310 with Sony Vegas Platinum 9, which is more feature-complete than the older Macbook (more RAM, hard drive, ports) at the same price” as the newly-crippled MacBook.
  • Even though he likes the new features, Adam Tow notes that on the MacBook, “I wouldn’t be able to import footage from my video camera nor can I get super-fast downloads from my Compact Flash cards using my SanDisk Extreme IV card reader.” And he points out you can only get a glossy screen.
  • IMJEFFP calls it the “$700 FireWire port” and notes the new model wouldn’t allow him to use a camera he uses for planetary photography.

Some in the press are turning on Apple entirely – and it could be the sign of more dissent to come:

  • The Guardian says the new models “fail to excite” in the headline, and goes on to blame missteps in the announcement for poor stock performance. (A stretch, I think given the volatility of the market, but it shows how bad the spin is today for Apple.)
  • Newsweek’s Daniel Lyons “sours” on Apple entirely and explains “Why the company’s laptops aren’t worth the hype.” His main complaint: Apple keeps dragging journos to these live events only to deliver incremental changes.

… just to cite two examples. Whether that’s fair or not, Apple obviously didn’t get the press they wanted. I think at some point, you have to let the press get excited on their own. Push too hard, and they get cranky.

So Are the Skeptics Right?

For US$999, Apple still offers the old MacBook, which out of the box works with FireWire drives, audio interfaces, DV and HDV cameras, fast card readers, analog TVs and video recording devices, video mixers, and more. Or spend more, and get less. See why people are cranky? Photo of the old MacBook: Allen Reyes.

A lot of PC partisans I know claim Apple gets a free pass. I think they’re unaware just how high the expectations of Apple’s most passionate enthusiasts can be. And I think, frankly, the press can set the bar absurdly high, like wanting major laptop innovation every eight months. Apple made that worse by over-hyping this event at the worst possible time.

There’s plenty to like about Apple’s new machines. There are significant architectural improvements, so it will be interesting to see benchmarks. And they look beautiful. The trackpad gestures sound interesting.

But here are the problems:

Removing FireWire ports is a downgrade, no matter how you look at it. Removing the floppy disk on the iMac turned out to be an upgrade. But remember, the iMac added fast Ethernet and USB ports at a time when those features were often optional. The new MacBooks don’t give you anything, connectivity-wise, in exchange for the FireWire you lose. On the non-Pro, that impact is the worst. HDV prosumer cameras still hold up to AVCHD options, and lots of devices only capture footage, play and record back tapes, and capture live video via FireWire. Musicians rely heavily on FireWire drives and (most importantly) FireWire audio interfaces. On the Pro, they now need FW800 adapters and lose a port. On the non-Pro, they’re completely out of luck.

Imagine how audio maker Apogee may feel. They made their Duet audio interface Mac-only and co-promoted it with Apple, touting exclusive integration with Logic Studio. Now it doesn’t even work with half of Apple’s new laptops, because it’s FireWire only. (No word yet on whether they’re ready with USB, but my guess it they may be hearing about this at the same time the rest of us are.

FireWire isn’t perfect; don’t get me wrong. FW400 offers limited advantages over USB2, and it’s possible to damage some components by hot-swapping a live capble. But then, why not put the FW800 port on Apple’s entry level MacBook, especially since there are still reasons (bigger screen, better GPU, faster specs) to upgrade to Pro? Or why not replace FW400 with eSATA? Or use a 4-pin FireWire port if the case has to be slimmer? Or wait until USB3 is available? Or even give us another USB port? Or at least not constantly keep telling us how you’re always right? Anything would ease the pain.

The integrated video doesn’t sound fully-baked yet. The NVIDIA 9400m will be a big upgrade from the MacBook’s previous integrated graphics. But you can find PCs with beefier graphics cards in them at the MacBook’s price point (especially at US$1600). Worse, if you want to take advantage of its battery-saving feature, you have to stop your work, log out, log in, and reload everything you were doing to switch modes. Windows Vista supports seamless switching on at least some models of the 9400m. Apple may soon, but that’s another demerit at launch.

We’re also still waiting to hear about whether we’ll be able to add connectors for HDMI, S-Video, and Composite TV out. All can theoretically be supported on Apple’s DisplayPort, but only if drivers cooperate. The fact Apple isn’t offering accessories for these formats? Very bad sign. (Updated: Note that that’s not even a standard DisplayPort. Apple is piping standard signal through a proprietary connection that’s not part of the spec. Uh… thanks?)

Apple has to stop acting like no one else exists. Here’s my other beef: aside from the superior aesthetics, Apple overstates what is uniquely theirs. For instance, the whole laptop industry is moving from underpowered integrated graphics on laptops to new, hybrid integrated/discrete graphics chips from ATI and NVIDIA; that’s not just Apple. Now that so many Mac users are dual-platform or switchers, press included, Apple may have to more clearly differentiate what makes them special, and what is PC-wide. There’s really no sin in being clear on that; I think people will respond more positively. And quit with the Vista swipes; that ship has sailed.

Waiting could be a good option. Bottom line? I think what happened is Apple did innovate on form, and function wasn’t quite ready. More video cameras may indeed go the USB route — but it hasn’t happened yet. Intel has some big performance improvements in store — but they’re not here yet. NVIDIA’s hybrid platform looks promising — but the payoff isn’t there just yet, and it sounds like Apple may not even be done with the drivers yet.

And most of all, I think the mood of the world right now is that we’ll buy new tech when it’s ready for us, when we don’t have to throw out gear we care about just to make the case a little thinner, and when we can pay in cash. Not too many people are excited about credit card debt in the moment. If this industry is in it for the long haul, maybe that’s a good thing.

We now return to our regularly scheduled, Theremin-filled music tech news.

  • Half baked upgrade, so sad, but damn, they shine so sexy and i just bought a brand new Firewire Hub/adaptor… ok, im not, so sad.

  • grimley

    Earlier I replied to a comment on the official Apple MBPro support forum stating my concerns about the new macbook line. The thread has seemingly been deleted!!!

  • Marc

    Look, I don't blame apple. The are in it to make money, and most people only buy apple products because they are currently in style (I'm sorry, it's true).
    However I can't help but be disappointed that they still favor the hip starbuck drinking yuppies over loyal power users that actually give apple a good name. Firewire is sort of important in the audio world.

    I would object to the criticisms of the pricing. I think a better built product deserves to be more expensive. I'm very worried apple will lower the quality to meet this demand.

  • plopp

    I'm not quite sure about this, but didn't we all complain when the first MBP was introduced with just FW400 instead FW800? Eventually, due to all complains, they added FW800.

    That's why we all need to complain.

    If I got myself a Macbook, I could easily switch to a USB 2-interface. What worries me the most is working with large sample libraries.

  • lza

    Enough sheep will follow/buy that new productline blindly, Apple won't give squad about some nerds complaining about stuff. Wake up.

  • plopp

    @Iza: You're probably right.

  • spinner

    @Iza. I'm not too sure, many current Mac users are entry level computer users and will probably go with what give most bang for the buck – no Apple fanboyism there yet.

  • Flash Freddy

    As a PC user one of the few attractions of a Mac laptop was the inclusion of the 6 pin FW port. Good for Pro-Tools allowing a quicktime movie to be sent down the firewire port and good for power when it comes to my ultralite.

    OS's don't bother me as long as the software works and there are comparable feature across os's. There are and PC's are cheaper.

  • weng

    What about the fundless alltime mac aficionados waiting for sooo long to invest? Was planning to buy one this month.

    I've got some "old" harware (presonus fw400 interface, usb2 extern drive) which are more than fullfilling my needs. I'm going to stick with my ibookG4 800 and maybe buy a pc laptop (since i'm a linux addict too).

    But as Iza said, apple don't care. They will get more yuppy-sheeps to buy this buyalwaysmoresuperstylish gear anyway. I'm quite disapointed but "in fine", not that much. They've gone the way i suspected since the macbook air was out. They just lost a client. Wow, big deal for them!

  • the exclusion of firewire on the macbooks is annoying, agreed. it's a differentiating issue. they are positioning firewire as a "pro" feature. I think we can guess which port the next imac revision WON'T have.

    regarding apogee – I'm not too worried about them. if they are really annoyed it might actually be good for them (and more people who covet the duet) – they can get off their asses and make the drivers compatible with windows, for one. The have a great excuse for doing so now.

    the good news is that changing the design of the macbook – revising it so Fwire will be included will be much easier for apple, if they decide to do this. the new manufacturing process allows to make these kind of revisions much faster.

  • Chris

    This is ridiculous!! no FW! Im so annoyed that Apple don't give a shit about their pro users…

    Please tell everyone concerned to leave feedback here:


  • m0no

    Hmm, fw 800 is compatible with 400 so there's no problem. Apple is just making sure pro's buy pro's.

  • Chris

    m0no, yeah but i know loads of people who use the macbooks to play live with as they are much more portable… 15" starts to get a bit big onstage…

  • 7oi

    I recall that apple have been clumsy before like that (the cube wasn't a success, although it has become a cult item and people swear on its greatness). Lets hope this is just one of their akwardly clumsy decisions.
    Personally i've been more tempted by non-apple laptops recently, even as a die hard apple user. I did start off as a pc geek, though, and returning to that seems more and more feasible.

  • ville

    just have to buy FW800 -> FW400 adapter cable

  • Jay Vaughan

    Its not that hard to understand: Apple are stiffing their users, thinking they know more about the needs of their users because of their famous position. Apple Knows Best.

    But clearly, they're out of field here. Its not uncommon for 'cool vendors' to get stuck in the Know Best bubble .. happens in other markets too.

    Take, for example, the synthesizer market. Synths have gotten stupider and stupider, interface-wise, because the general public of these vendors slavishly slurps up whatever gimmick they are sold. Pay the *same* amount of money for a device with *fewer* physical knobs, just coz its 'cool'? Yup, it happens.

    The only thing to do is either DIY, or take your $$ elsewhere, to vendors who do get it, and who don't Know Best.

  • It was getting to the point where the only difference between the MacBook and the MacBook Pro was the size of the screen and prestige in the form of the aesthetics difference. Honestly, that isn't a very compelling reason to opt for the Pro, although it seems many people did anyway.

    Now, the MacBook and MacBook Pro look more or less identical. The prestige factor is gone. Therefore, apple needs to distinguish the MacBook Pro from the MacBook somehow. For people who use the laptop to surf the web and write term papers, the loss of FireWire is not a big deal. If you need FireWire, you are a 'pro' and need the 'pro' model.

    I'm not defending Apple's actions, I'm just pointing out the marketing ramifications of making the MacBook and the MacBook Pro aesthetically identical.

  • drohnwerks

    I would be interested to hear what proportion of macbook users actually have a firewire drive or soundcard etc. I guess that it isn't the majority.

  • @drohnwerks Really? I'm guessing since Apogee is still making their interface it's actually quite the opposite. Plus all those other pro-sumer devices, some cross-platform, from RME, TCElectronics, LiquidMix, SSL, et al. I have a feeling there are a lot of developers gripping their heads to keep them from exploding.

    And as Peter says, *a lot* of video cameras use firewire.

    I think Matthew is much closer to the "secret" reasoning behind this decision: get the power users to pony up for a more "featured" model. No matter that you've been pushing the protocol as a standard neigh on, what? 10 years.

  • I don't doubt that Apple, internally, had balanced some options here and had reasons for their decision. But I'd say there was a pretty significant miscalculation on that one port, and on how they handled the PR angle. And, as I said, a lot of this was timing – hitting with the economic downturn, unveiling this radical new casing before there was a radical change in the innards that consumers could understand, and so on.

    Matthew, I think the problem is Apple had already equated video editing with "consumer" and not just pro, and consumers still equate FireWire with video editing. And that's not just perception, because a lot of them already own various FW cameras, and all of these HDV cameras (like the wildly popular Canon HV20) still use FW.

    So I agree with you about the formulation they used. I think it's just understandable why some people aren't pleased. And the fact that they made aesthetics and pushing consumers up-market the priority isn't doing much *today* to combat the popular perception that Apple makes aesthetics and pushing consumers up-market the priority.

  • Ben Casey

    @drohnwerks, i think your right. i'd say the majority of macbook owners have no idea what the firewire connector is for. they can't plug a printer, scanner, digital camera, ipod, iphone, or mouse into it. so what the heck is it? sure there is a market of pro users how are cutting costs buying these machines but they are by no means the majority.

  • @Ben, I was about to argue with you but I see on our admin you're writing from Tekserve. So I expect you know those unwashed masses far better than I do. πŸ™‚

    Let me just add a third category, though. Obviously, we have a group of relatively clueless consumers just surfing the Web, and that's fine, nothing wrong with that. Likewise, I'm sure you have people who aren't clueless at all, but just have no need for this stuff, again because Web/email is their main app.

    And obviously we have pro users — many of whom do want the non-Pro MacBook. (Certainly, remaining potential PC switchers may not be in the idea of having to pay premiums for basic amenities.)

    But don't forget the Mac enthusiast market. A lot of these folks use the heck out of their machines, even though they're not pros. And a lot have traditionally, back to the Mac's roots, been budget-conscious shoppers.

    Looking at those three categories, one issue is that it's pros and enthusiasts who are the most influential users. I think a whole lot of they are clearly frustrated with Apple on this, perhaps rightfully so, and they're the kind of people who will make a fair bit of noise!

  • Wells

    I do not get it. There's FW800. That's Firewire. There's Firewire. THE MACHINE HAS FIREWIRE. What's the problem? This is making my brain hurt.

  • Wells

    Oh, OK, no FW800 on the MacBook, only on the MBP. I forgot my meds today, and shall now pick up my pitchfork.

  • johnno

    Well, that's a shame. Being stylish was the icing on the cake of apples functionality. What good is icing if you don't have a cake to put it on? except for maybe licking the bowl…. but that's just for kids. It is unfortunate that apples target audience consists mostly of people who don't value connectivity… or at least don't think they do. I can't afford to get a MBP so that i can run my interface… damn shame…. i'll be looking on ebay to buy the last rev macbook from some hippster who can't resist the new shinny toy……

  • Seba

    So, it has to be asked, what kind of PC-based laptop kicks the crap out of the new Macbook? Anyone know of a PC laptop w/ 2 firewire ports?

    I wouldn't run Windows on it, obviously, but Linux+Ardour & Pure Data could make a killer live solution.

  • matt

    Sadly, I'm so stuck on the Mac OS for all my non-music related stuff that I can't switch back to PC, despite the fact that you can get a lot more bang for your buck for music making purposes.

    I guess I'm holding out for a "parallels option" to run OSX on a more powerful PC. : )

    I was even considering updating if this new version would have been significant. How hard can it be to even add another USB port!

  • @Seba: I think my next laptop *may* be from Rain Recording. http://rainrecording.com/ To be honest, I haven't been blown away with the laptops from small builders — they have a lot more flexibility on desktops. But there's some new stuff coming out.

    Rain in fact ships machines with a second FireWire.

    Just for kicks, I tried spec'ing out some machines from Lenovo and Asus, both builders I respect. Let's just say, I did substantially better on paper.

    I'm hoping to see Paul Davis while in Berlin next week, so maybe we can dream up a dream Linux system.

    Hey, that's not to advocate any of this options, necessarily — I'm just saying, options are good.

  • No hardware is perfect. No software is perfect. There are economic forces at work… and someone needs to take decisions based on the realities of the market. A few months ago i needed to purchase a laptop for mobile gigs. I made the decision to get MacBook and switch to OS X, mainly because reliability factor that proven to be true. The MacBook Black also looks super cool too. The casing feels rugged and sturdy. And I am very happy to have the Firewire option.

    So I would have liked to have an Nvidia card, i got over it and purchased the model. For me it has proven an excellent purchase, very stable, fast, and the ATI card has never given me any problems at all. For those that need to know why I wanted the Nvidia card, it was because of the Open GL implementation on the Nvidia i needed for some visuals but as i said ATI gave me no problems… there is a difference between the want and need.

    Here you have to make a decision. If this is your bread and butter don't hesitate to get the MBPRO 15in model. While i think the 17in screen was too big to carry around to play live with the 15in is … in my opinion a good choice. When I need another laptop to add (and i may) I will get this one for sure. And if you consider Apple to be overpriced, there are so many options out there. Why purchase something that does not fit your needs/ or budget? The price difference between MacBook and the MBPRO is $200… If you really need that port get it!!!

    To make it easier you can set a budget out of your performance money for hardware upgrades. I do it this way and it works for me. So consider all factors and make your decision. (and charge for your performance accordingly)

    Cheers everyone,

    Danny / DTRONIK

    Toronto CANADA

  • Seba

    Thanks for the link, Peter! Those look great!

    Let it be said that I have no plans to kill my dreams of a maxed-out Mac Pro for my studio, but I may have to reconsider the Mac platform for live applications in the foreseeable future.

  • Conslaw

    Three months of occasional use of Apple Logic Express 8 on my G5 Imac, and my Imac drive started going out. I haven't even bothered trying to use logic on my macbook. I bought an external drive, and I use that for backups and to store my Logic files. If I used Logic with my white macbook, I would absolutely use the (firewire) external drive, because I don't have to replace everything on my internal drive. It looks like with the new MB & MBP lines, I'd have to pay $2400 just to get a laptop with firewire. For that I could by a desktop and a laptop windows machine and Sonar.

  • grimley

    Isn't it true that if you mix FW800 and FW400 devices on the same bus that your FW800 devices are throttled to FW400 speeds?

  • its a sad day indeed. I cringed going from 12inch ibook to 13inch macbook because small form factor is crucial for live gigs i do. Now i am opted to pay more and go for an even bigger laptop. Sorry apple you lost me on this one.

  • BassTooth

    make mine a HackBook!

  • cubestar

    I think this is just like the first iMacs and iBooks with no Firewire or SCSI.

    Or when they started taking audio in ports off of Macs.

    It's going to be an awkward transition, and then they will get into USB3 or back to FW.

    Owell,like I said before – hopefully we will get USB target mode and some nicer USB2 audio drivers & devices?

  • My guess is, rather than replace Target Disk Mode, Apple will simply use networking (ideally via Ethernet) as the preferred method for migration of data. That's possible now. It does mean you have one less troubleshooting option, though, as you could often rescue a machine via Target Disk Mode that wouldn't boot to the OS.

    I'm not sure what would be required so that USB is recognized by the firmware for "USB Target Disk Mode." It means the firmware needs access to those ports without the OS, and I don't know if that's currently possible, or whether it can (or will) be added. That's just speculation, what's fairly safe is to say you're not going to have it when these machines ship.

  • Christopher Sabat

    Apple only recently reached a 10% share on their computers.
    Of that, maybe 1% are Pros.
    Of those Pros, 1% of them are digital musicians.
    Of them, 1% need a Firewire port.

    In other words, .001% of Mac users give a darn about the Firewire port.

    It sucks, but I don't blame Apple for not caring, honestly.

    Buy a MBP, a USB hub, and chill out.

  • Chris, aside from the fact that you added an extra decimal point (your 10% I believe was total market share) and these numbers are made up —

    * Every Mac ships with GarageBand.
    * We're talking video, too, and every Mac ships with iMovie.
    * Lots of people who aren't musicians *and* don't own video cameras still own FireWire devices.

    Of course it's not 100%. But anyway, each reader here is going to make a decision for themselves, not for the whole platform. If that decisions winds up sucking, they have every right to complain or look at a competitor. They're under no obligation to buy anything, let alone to buy that MacBook Pro. It's their money.

  • I've submitted this story to digg.


    Digg it up and this issue will certailny get more attention.

  • 4lefts

    pffffff. i do suspect that apple have done this because they want to sell as many macbooks as they can to people who use itunes, safari and fuck all else. the, oooo, coool, iphooonne, crowd, in the apple store on saturday. i can't stand the whole "pro" bollocks that gets flung around. i'm not a pro. i make music in my room because i like it. that's it. i know nothing about video, but i do know i need one of those standard video out doodahs that came as an adaptor with my ibook, to drive a whiteboard at work – take away that function and i shop elsewhere. my dad is 60 and bought a firewire card for his aging windows 98 box to use his video camera. is he a pro? the whole thing looks like a glass and brushed aluminium turd to me.

  • jonnyfive

    I'm guessing your right Peter, (as in the headline nails it) that it was an Industrial Design/aesthetic decision, as the electronics in these things are packed pretty tight.

    That said I hate to see Apple go the DAW route of customer/user base support. That is to say, we have all been let down by major releases of our preferred DAW as we see what is perceived as bloat aimed at attracting new users take precedence over user-base demand or even bug fixes from 3 releases ago.

    This MacBook release smells eerily similar, that Apple is abandoning their strongest/most supportive user base in favor of growing marketshare. (And seriously, where would apple be with out the all the creative types hyping their wares for so long? Certainly not with John Hodgeman in commercials touting that particular niche) Either that, or Apple made an incredibly poor assumption/prediction about user response, (or perhaps even their user base in general).

  • steve

    Reposting my tweet about this, if you need a firewire port to use a firewire audio device to play gigs, you're a pro, and you should write it off your taxes as a business expense like the grown up you are. If you get paid to play gigs, you should be playing the tax game smarter.

    Regarding video, solid state is the only recording medium I'll ever buy from here on out… ever. Ever. Man, screw tapes, screw moving parts. Screw firewire transfers and encoding. Screw all that. If you need… NEED firewire to interface with your HD Camcorder, you're probably a pro. Or you should probably consider a desktop machine. And you should probably consider writing that camera off as a tax expense, too, if you're using it for paying gigs.

    But hey, I'm not a tax attorney, don't take my word for it. Get your taxes done by a human next year and ask them yourself. I did and guess what, I'm buying a new MBP soon. πŸ™‚

    Also, I like how the other story used a nice photo of the side of a macbook all loaded up with every port plugged into something… *except* the firewire port. πŸ˜‰

  • steve

    Oh, my mistake, it was *this* story with that photo, and nothing plugged into the audio-in jack either. Hmm.

  • Oh, the Humanity! If only there were a compact, cheap way to plug in my outdated audio interface to my new MacBook.


    Oh, and remember: change is bad for you.


  • Okay, Steve, Carl, I love you guys, but have to call bullshit on both those arguments.

    "Being a Pro" and "buying the laptop Apple wants you to" are two entirely different things.

    Buying a non-Pro MacBook does not make you less of a grown-up.

    Deductions are awesome. Running up credit card debt to try to get them is terrible financial advice. Saving money is good, too, and laptops are not the only thing "pros" budget for.

    "Outdated" in technology *should* mean supplanted by something else, not removed for marketing purposes by *one vendor*.

    This is not a deal-breaker for everyone. But we don't work for Apple. We work for ourselves. And I think it should be abundantly clear from this thread that removing a port — while a relatively small change — is not proving a popular decision or a selling point. End of story.

    I don't think anyone is criticizing people who go out and buy this new machine and are happy with it. So why tell those who aren't impressed — and are frustrated because, with Mac OS you can't *choose your hardware* beyond what Apple decides is good for you — that they're wrong? Are you implying you know what they want more than they do?

  • Also, for the record —

    I understand the MacBook Pro has a FireWire port. The non-Pro does not, locking out anyone who wants a smaller form factor or lower price.

    Also, I'm not certain how performance is with audio on the MBP's new FW800 controller and port. It could be great. It could be awful.

    Change is absolutely bad for you under some circumstances, like when controllers, drivers, and operating system updates ruin your audio performance, as happened frequently in the last 12 months on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Sorry I'm not cheerleading new machines for that reason; guess I need my head examined?

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  • ernesto (costa rica)

    To all of you guys that say that there is no problem with the MBP, it's clear to me that you don't have more than one FW device… or none at all. There is nothing Pro on that machine without connectivity to our pro-duction tools, which to some of us happen to be all FW based.

    Ok remove FW400, but then put 2 FW800 instead!!! That would be coherent and "futuristic"…. very ill timed 4 reasons we all know… but coherent anyway.

  • Dr. Evil

    i have a 2.33 ghz macbook pro my right USB port is extremely unreliable. i'd consider it defective. i've read that other people have the same issue. does anyone know if apple would fix this? since i didn't buy applecare i don't have a warranty. i'd pay for it to get fixed if they could.

  • I think I agree with this post. I figured the Macbook Pro would be able to handle more than 4GB of RAM. They do look amazing, and we all know these computers are going to be updated. There were tons of problems with the first macbooks, I think they just got too trigger happy and released too soon. I don't mind the lack of firewire, because I'm really only an audio guy and I think I should have a USB2 or FW800 interface when I get out of school anyway.

    My big problem with the current macbook is that its just not that durable. Sooner or later I'm gonna have to have it sent in for all of these cracks and scratches I have. I think that's the main reason for this upgrade. If the new macbooks dont support your current hardware, don't get one. That will probably be a clear enough sign to apple to support your hardware or, maybe by the time they upgrade you'll have new hardware. I know when I saw the FW800 ports all I said was, "well, now I guess I should upgrade my almost 10 year old interface to an RME fireface" I think if anything apple is trying to update faster than we're ready for them to. I don't see firewire as a downgrade. Rather, I see it as an upgrade that came too quickly. yeah maybe there should be 3 USB ports but that's what hubs are for.

    All in all, no need to rip Apple's head off.

  • The problem with FireWire is history. Here's how I understand it:

    First, Apple introduces FireWire — before Jobs takes the reigns. It's wildly superior to USB1, which is what's available at the time.

    Then, just as PC vendors would be likely to adopt (now with Jobs in charge), Apple slaps a $1/port license fee on that scares many of them away. Never mind the fact that the 4-pin version lacks power, so there's a split in connectors and features in compact situations.

    Then USB2 arrives — it still doesn't catch up with FireWire, but has the major advantage of using the same connector.

    Apple responds with FireWire800, but changes the connector. Few bite, especially as there's little real-world reason to do so, and the license fee continues to slow adoption.

    Apple works with Apogee to introduce the Duet as a killer audio solution via FireWire, a few years after they hunted down leaked information on their own, abortive attempt to do a FireWire audio interface.

    Now … it's 2008. Apple could be pushing FW800, but they drop it from half their laptops. They still haven't dropped the license fee. USB3 still isn't here.

    I think the long-term result will be that FireWire dies. But just remember, it didn't go away for technical reasons or because it was obsolete or inferior or anything like that. It went away because Apple has been — sometimes simultaneously — its inventor, its major advocate, and its worst enemy.

    That's the same Apple that is now suddenly trying to push DisplayPort, but invents their own connector rather than following the format.

    And Apple probably leads the industry in putting as few ports on their devices as possible, despite having done more to popularize the "digital hub" concept in the first place.

    Did I get that right?

  • jonnyfive

    A few notes on Firewire:

    You can theoretically daisy chain 63 Firewire devices in series. I'm sure the practical limit is much less but probably still more than, say 10, to choose an arbitrary number.

    Also FW 800->400 cables are readily available, and the FW spec is backwards compatible and therefore defaults to the speed of slowest device on the bus. There was only one FW bus on the previous Apple portables anyway, so if you ever had 2 FW devices plugged in, the whole bus defaults to FW400. So there's absolutely no FW performance drop on the new MBP's.

    I think the biggest shot in the foot is re: FW video cameras as pointed out earlier. Apple's recent marketing approach seems to be "look how easy it is to make music/video with iLife on a MacBook". Well, no teeth there now.(I guess the MacBook isn't necessarily implied by the ad campaign, but it seems they are targeting college students pretty heavily, which means they are pushing portables, and hence MacBooks by definition).

  • steve

    Love you too, Peter.

  • glenn

    You can still get an expressCard for firewire… if you need a new machine. I agree that removing it is a major step backwards. Not even a dinky "iport" or whatever sony calls their non-powered firewire port.
    The glossy-only screen is also disappointing for anyone that wants a somewhat accurate rendering of color on their laptop (graphic designers/photographers/web designers). Display port — we knew it was coming. At least it's not that proprietary connector they used to use (ADC).
    Total lack of techno-lust over here. If you're inthe market, they are selling off the remaining stock of the previous MPBs on their website….

  • ryan

    yet another reason to jump on the hackintosh bandwagon.

    my hack pro desktop is fast and stable.

    now its obviously time for a touchscreen tablet hybrid hackintosh.

    i see the thinkpad touchscreen hybrid works well…

    get your head out of your @$$ apple.

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  • what they need to do is come out with an adapter (i know, i know… another f&*(king adapter!!!)

    but thing about it… a gigabit ethernet to 2 port FWR800/FWR400.
    Set the Firewire bus up to run just like on the current iMacs.
    That is to say if you use an 800mbps device with the 800mbps port, you get the full 800mbps, but as soon as you add a 2nd device, at 400mbps, both devices run at 400mbps.

    It would add 2 firewire ports to the firewire-less MacBooks, and would give back the lost port (plus a third firewire port) to the new MacBook Pro.

    Now whether or not this is even possible, i dunno.

    But if it is, and someone makes it, my next mac will be a MacBook because i can't live without my Metric Halo 2882+DSP which, if you've ever opened one up or seen the new 2d cards, have at least another good 5 or 6 years left in them.

    If its not possible and firewire on the macbook is gone forever, then i'll drive my BlackBook till the wheels fall off and eventually go back to a MacBook Pro.

  • @peter: You got that pretty close, I would add one more thing – Apple do all this without telling anyone: "oh you've spent years of R&D making a FW video or audio device – too bad, we just changed the game".

  • I really hope Apple responds to all the press and puts FW back on the Mackbook.

  • TJ

    This reminds me of when Apple dumped serial ports for USB, just like that, no warning. I already had $hundreds invested in gear with serial but no USB.

    I now have a svelte white iMac which works fine … except I have 12 or 15 colored vertical lines on the display that don't go away. Nice design: lousy hardware.

    Oh yeah, and the stand: once installed, there's no way to get it out … makes it 3 times as hard to take it on a gig.

    I will be looking into alternate hardware platforms that run OS X.

  • Alicat

    I want to tear someone's head off and shove my MBox fire wire cable down their neck!
    But I do have my period at the moment, ask me how I feel in about two weeks!

  • Alicat

    The new macbook comes standard with….
    Apple Inc’s “Alchemy 1.0″
    With a free tutorial Blu Ray disc, “How to turn Apples into Lemons!â€Β

  • Leslie

    Am I missing something..? Last time I checked (2 minutes ago) MacBook comes with Firewire port and it costs only 999 bucks. I don't understand what the problem is… Oh I see, It is not made out of aluminum and glass πŸ˜‰
    Than again, even if it was, there would be another "hate Mac" thread for some other obscure reason.
    Get over it…

  • @Leslie, it's likely that that $999 model will be phased out. You're right, it's a very adequate choice in the meantime — but that's the point, the old model in this case is better for some people than the new model.

    These aren't gloating Windows/Linux users, either; they're frustrated Mac users.

  • Morrissey

    I think a lot of longtime Apple users are growing tired of Apple. Used to recommend them to friends, not anymore. Every Mac and display have crapped out withing 2 years. Seems like every update causes more issues than they solve. Add smug, self-serving Apple attitude, cheesy marketing and Steve Jobs hallelujah mass meetings and voila, Apple has succeeded in alienating their core users while flirting with the "cool crowd" who will move on when anything cooler than the iPhones comes along.

  • jonnyfive

    @ Leslie: The problem is most people who read this board don't update for the form factor but rather increased specs, which the white MB doesn't have (still same 667 system bus and DDR2 with crappy integrated graphics, while the new MBs have a faster system bus and memory than the current Mac Pro). And for audio people on Macs FW is an essential feature for audio interfaces and storage devices, so if you are a Mac/FW user and had a G4 and were holding out for this update to get new specs, not only would you "have" to pay a 700 dollar premium, use your gear, but you can't even buy a White MacBook that is as fast as it was on Monday, that is you would be buying technology that is already over a year old.

  • Ben Casey

    @ Peter, thanks, yes there are plenty of people here who are disappointed with the lack of firewire and I completely agree with your assessment of the history or firewire. We're all sad to see it go cause they made us love it so much. However Apple has been careful not to make a firewire device in at least a year (2 perhaps). So i can only imagine there were quite a few customer surveys before they removed the port from the most populous machine.

  • Right, except (iPod aside) Apple never made FireWire devices in the first place. It's hard drive manufacturers, audio manufacturers, and video camera manufacturers.

    A lot has been made of the fact that video has moved to AVCHD, but that's only partly true. It ignores the installed base, for one. But the mid-range cameras are all still FireWire-based, as are a lot of the most popular "workhorse" pro cameras. Now, maybe it's fair to say that the MacBook Pro is targeted at those users, but as I said, anyone lugging around that camera would be happy to have a 13" laptop instead of a 15" one, and anyone who just blew $3000 on a camera is also going to resent several hundred dollars just to get a port. It may be justified for Apple, sure; I'm just looking at the justification for that buyer.

    More troubling is, what happens if Apple decides FireWire should go away completely? What happens to support?

  • The lack of firewire is a real pity, because with the improved graphics this MacBook would have been a pretty good music workstation. Early reports are that the build quality of these new machines is fantastic.

  • Some Guy

    Here in Australia Macbooks now start at $1649 but Macbook Pros start at $3199. That makes it a whopping $1,550!!! to get a firewire port. FSCK YOU, Apple!!! >:-(

    It doesn't matter whether or not you're pro or whether you can claim depreciation in your tax return – you *still* have to come up with all that money in the first place.

    Like someone else said, I'll be driving my current Macbook till the wheels fall off, but after that I'll be getting a Hackintosh before I pay any more $ to those arrogant @$$holes!

  • jonno

    Yes. My next system will be a "hack pro". I'm done with this shit. From now on, I'll be stealing their OS and that's all. It's been a nice 7 years, apple.

  • Alicat

    Leslie: "Am I missing something..?"

    Yes you are. Read carefully about the difference between FW800 and FW400. That is just one of many things wrong with the new systems. If you used it for music production, you would feel our pain too.
    Most of us don't flame for fun.
    But Apple need to hear loud and clear that what they have done is not acceptable.
    I'll 'get over it', when they fix the problem they have created!
    Or I get myself a 'HackBook', which ever comes first!

  • Producer

    This is absolutely terrible. I can not believe that Apple did this. After reading some of the comments I kinda feel that some people don't see what the big deal is. Let me explain….. There is a big difference between firewire and usb. USB was built to transfer information. Firewire was built to transfer information in sync which is great for raw music and video files. Most USB video and audio gear is at best a joke compared to their firewire counterparts. Right now you have some of the top music schools in the country using the macbook in their programs simply because of their reliability and firewire connectivity. The macbook has more then enough power to do proaudio so why would someone spend an extra $700 to get the macbook pro just for firewire? Apple had better rethink their decision and think of something fast. If they don't fix this quick they could lose a big chunk of the college market which was what put them on top in the first place.

  • Alicat

    BTW: My partner and I have spent thousands on hardware that rely on the FW400 platform.
    If we can't use that equipment on a new macbook pro, just how do you suggest we "Get over it"?!

  • Alicat

    Well said, Producer. Any suggestions as to what we can use as an alternative?

  • Chris

    If they don't sort this out my next purchase rather sickeningly will have to be a Hackintosh of some kind… Its been a nice 20 years Apple.. but for the first time im thinking about joining the dark side.

  • Leslie

    This is taken directly from http://forums.mactalk.com.au/19/59991-apple-s-new
    "Say goodbye to FireWire
    The new MacBooks no longer have a FireWire connection. This is something I don’t necessarily agree with, either. I’m an avid user of FireWire. My external hard drive uses FireWire 400. It’s a great connection option for transferring lots of data back and forth, and USB will never compete with its speeds. Not to mention, it’s a popular connectivity method for many DV camcorders. However, here’s my logic behind why Apple may have chosen to ditch FireWire on the MacBooks.

    MacBooks are a consumer model of notebook. It’s Apple’s best selling Mac. Ever. (The words of the famous Mr Steve Jobs himself). The MacBook was never intended as a desktop replacement notebook. That’s what the MacBook Pro is for. The MacBooks are for the folks just wanting a portable Mac to do stuff with like surf the web, check email, play some tunes, add photos to their library, and now play games (since the new graphics chip is powerful enough). It’s also a popular Mac for the recent Windows switchers. Or the people wanting a notebook as a secondary computer. The majority of MacBook purchasers in the past probably never used their MacBook’s FireWire port. Probably not even once.

    So, based on these assumptions (yes, they’re assumptions, they’re not facts set in stone), we can also assume that the majority of MacBook users won’t have a DV camera; they’re more likely to use something with a flash card, or something with internal flash memory like the Flip Video cameras, both of which can connect via USB. The majority of MacBook users are more likely to purchase a USB external drive than a FireWire drive; they’re more affordable, just like the MacBook itself, and USB is more well known to the masses. The majority of MacBook users are less likely to use their MacBooks strictly at a desk; folks like the option for mobility nowadays. Mobility means less chance for having stuff constantly plugged into your MacBook.

    Does that make it okay to ditch FireWire completely? Of course not, but it at least it makes more sense as to why. The people who are really bitten by the lack of FireWire are those wanting a smaller version of the MacBook Pro. For these people, it’s one or the other, I’m afraid. There are likely other reasons that involve cost and profit and design choices, but it’s only Apple who knows those ones."
    BTW; Guys, please stop complaining about it and just buy that "Windoze" based plastic laptop with 4 pin firewire port instead… I'm sure Apple will not miss You that much. The new MacBook is already runaway success for Apple.
    "The train has left the station" and there is no turning back I'm afraid…

  • Chris


    Sign this 1400 sigs so far!!

  • Leslie

    I think that Firewire days are truly over. Firewire will eventually die the way SCSI and FLOPPY disks died. Less and less manufacturers tend to support it these days.
    What's next..? USB 3 I'm afraid – http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070918-int
    Than again there is this announcement http://www.tgdaily.com/content/view/38630/135/

  • Alicat

    Leslie: "“The train has left the stationâ€Β and there is no turning back I’m afraid…"

    lza: "Enough sheep will follow/buy that new productline blindly, Apple won’t give squad about some nerds complaining about stuff."

    Yet on the other forum (Whither, FireWire? What the New Apple Laptop Port Changes Mean for Audio)
    Del-Uks says: "Do you guys remember when Apple had to bring FW800 back after dropping it in the first MacBook Pro revision…"

    Mmmm. Perhaps if they listened to the 'nerds' once, they will again!

    Keep making noise!!!
    (I'm twying to but dere's a pwobwem wid da noo 'putas!)

    Things are changing too fast. Many people out there only just bought hardware that won't work on the new Macs, yet they are still being sold today with no working alternatives.

    If Apple Inc want to make a clean transition from one interface to a BETTER interface, that's fine, but please make it backwards compatible, and make sure you have peripheral manufacturers on board, so that people who just want to buy a fuss free package that does the job can do so, without the sort of aggravation that leads to emotional breakdowns and people renouncing all of their possessions and becoming barefoot ferals for 40 years!
    Actually, that's starting to sound not half bad!

  • Leslie

    SCSI is dead and so is the floppy drive, FireWire will be next, I'm afraid…
    Advent of USB 3 can not be ignored and Apple knows it.
    Firewire will be gone by the end of 2009 and USB 3 will take over…

  • iStopMotion Creators Boinx are one of many developers vexed by the omission:


  • Leslie

    As I mentioned before, musicians will be more than happy to migrate to new MacBook Pro (I have) … I;m yet to see any performing musician/dj to use anything else but MacBook Pro.

  • The problem is, eSATA is already very popular, partly because it's really cheap for vendors to add. And eSATA isn't supported, either, even on the Pro (without adding an ExpressCard, at added expense). And USB3 isn't shipping. So … uh … what gives?

    I agree, I've seen lots of Pros. But if Apple's laptops *effectively* start at $2000 while competitors with the same pro-level features start at hundreds less, at the very least, you have to concede that Apple is again a premium system. Maybe there's nothing wrong with that, but then again, I'd want more premium I/O features if that's the case even on the Pro.

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  • Seba

    Seriously, if Apple added 2 Firewire 400s, 1 Firewire 800, and 2 USB 2.0 then maybe I'd think about getting a Pro…but not with only 1 Firewire 800. No way. I don't even know if there's room for that many ports, but it's what I want…practical or not. πŸ˜›

  • Seba

    Leslie: "SCSI is dead and so is the floppy drive, FireWire will be next, I’m afraid"

    Tell that to all the people that just bought, and fairly recently, Digi 003s, MOTU 896mkIIIs, Mackie Onyx 1200Fs, Presonous Firestudios, Apogee Ensembles, etc, etc, etc…

    …I mean, the entire native audio market is pretty much dominated by Firewire except for the ultra entry-level budget USB stuff. So unless Apple wants a mass exodus of audio manufactures and customers alike away from their platform, I'd suggest they rethink any notions of "the death of firewire". At the moment, I call that bull****.

  • I'll say it again — anyone who DOES get the MBP, please let us know how it works with some of these FW interfaces on that one FW800 port. The port is just a physical connector, but the controller could make a difference. It sounds as though not everyone is having a plug-and-play experience.

  • Leslie

    MBP l(late 2008 edition) works fine with my Apogee Ensemble and Duet.
    I have also tried it with my old M-Audio FW Audiophile and it seems to be "happy" with that as well.
    MacBook Pro (late 2008 edition)
    Os X 10.5.5
    PS; Using standard firewire 800-400 cable.

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  • comment/open letter

    Dear Steve Jobs: I switched once, I can switch again. I suggest getting your act together, pronto. Otherwise I will be enjoying the taste of fresh penguin, going hackintosh on your backside, or maybe going back to the dark side. Whatcha gonna do?

    I'll throw down with some cynicism: Could Apple be trying to preempt last-gen MBP users from "up-downgrading" to the new MB? I could very well have been one of those buyers. The new MB has better video, faster cpu, nicer styling, better wireless… than my 2.18ghz MBP. If I was ok dropping a screen size I would have a big performance upgrade for about $500 less than I paid for my MBP15 just over a year ago.

    Oh… Belay that. My MOTU 896HD, Glyph drives, small pile of smaller FW enclosures, Lacie and G-raid gear would all be useless, and no FW video import, and no target mode… Planning the obsolescence of my gear is unacceptable.

    When I'm ready to throw down a sizeable wad of my hard earned cash, like I did for my current MBP, Apple had better have something better than "trust us and not your lyin' eyes" to offer if they have any hope of being in the running. USB2 is a *dog* tired interface, Prosumer gear avoids it like the plague (just ask your hardware pals at Apogee, MOTU, Canon, Sony…) and so do I. My NI AK1 is the exception, and even that is on a short leash. So far, Apple, you are not getting it done.

    Spare the world your smartass jive about the fate of FW in the peripheral world, and get back to supporting your BASE. Just like another grey haired loser making news this week, it just might be all you have when the economy gets bad.

  • Just because I have seen this concept thrown around here and in some of the other forums: The price of my computer is in no way related to the cost of my peripherals. I don't put the workstation at the top of the hardware food chain. Lots of very expensive Digidesign systems (just one example) out there running on lower rung workstation hardware. Likewise, my not too extensive software collection is worth more than the hardware it runs on, and it would run just fine on a MB13 if it could only talk to my hardware.

  • Seba

    Honestly, I wouldn't have been nearly this annoyed if they'd dropped USB.

  • @Leslie: That's cool, thanks … hope to collect more data on it. If you (or anyone else) want to snap some photos / write up some impressions and tests of course I welcome that! The idea isn't just to spin our wheels on this stuff, but actually to work out as much knowledge as we can!

    And, incidentally, that goes for PCs, too.

    I think it was the FW410 that was having issues, possibly PreSonus, on certain FW controllers, but don't know the specifics. It may have been a Windows driver interaction, as well.

    But others are in fact seeing issues with some FW devices? We ought to be able to get some pretty solid info as these things make their way out into the wild.

    Of course, testing FireWire on the non-Pro MacBooks is easy. πŸ˜‰

  • A few things to add. Intel's modern 'southbridge' chips (ICH9 and ESB2) implement firewire as an integral part of the chipset. I'd warrant that Nvidia's part doesn't, especially since it integrates GPU, 'southbridge' and 'northbridge'/MCH into a single package. So adding firewire to the Macbook & MBP means adding an extra chip to the board and a few more traces, power etc. 2 firewire busses (separate 400 & 800) means 2 and so on…

    Since Apple added an extra 800 port to their MBP, it seems they are still using that chip. The loss of the 400 port across the entire line smacks of them not wanting to add a separate chip to it. Ie, 'industrial design' ala 'cost control'. And yes, yuppie/consumer appeal wins over such concerns (most of my friends think I'm funny for preferring firewire to usb already). Something the less technoliterate people don't understand is that usb technologies ('hi speed', true speed or whatever) are all PIO mode ports. Ie, all data transfer is entirely handled by the cpu, which even in a dual core machine gives a noticeable performance hit when you're running 1-2 extra drives and pulling a lot of data. Firewire doesn't dma 100% but does include a small buffer and a bit of additional logic to improve the data transfer overhead on the system bus.

    To those pointing out that firewire can ADDRESS 63 devices in theory obviously haven't tried mixing 800 & 400 speed devices or even just getting multiple 400 speed devices to co-exist happily. Both harddrives & audio interfaces want to have priority, video tends to be the same way and so on. Especially an issue as write caching is best disabled to external/hot plug drives or you (at best) risk data loss. And it's not always just when devices are under load that this is an issue, I've noticed other issues when devices share the firewire bus, and it's not even always related to the amount of data being moved.

    For example, I had an issue with audio playback occasionally being corrupted when just watching dvd's and using the external audio interface for its fidelity and ease of connection to my studio gear. Every 10 mins or so the audio interface would glitch, even with high buffer settings. Wound up being another mac networked to the laptop (via ethernet) periodically polling shares, and this causes a blip in performance for me since I had the audio interface & harddrive with shared folders on the same firewire port. I've also noticed that in some OSX builds (10.5.2 for example) wireless drivers would affect firewire performance, I can imagine with 2-3 devices sharing the firewire bus and contending for the same irq/cpu time slices this would be even more of an issue.

  • @Valis: I think that's mostly right, except that the previous MBP, while it did have FW800 and FW400 *ports*, ran them on the same bus — at least, that's my understanding. So there shouldn't have to be another chip.

    You're absolutely right on some of the potential pitfalls of FW. It's not a perfect protocol. Ripping ports out of your laptops doesn't necessarily make things better, but that does bear saying.

  • Peter Northey

    Ripped off! The previous MacBook had it and the new one doesn't – surely Firewire 800 for MacBook and 3200 for MacBook Pro would've been better – and what's this bugger all ports crap?! Only 2 x USB 2 on a MacBook – how cheap can they get?!

  • You're right, I did a bit of reading and they are on the same bus. I recall in 2006 when the last revision of the MBP came about (the move to intel) there was only a firewire 400 port, and this was due to it being in the Intel chipset. I had assumed that when they added 800 finally (end of 2006/beginning of 2007 I forget) it was by adding an extra chip, which is true. But it seems you're correct too, they used that single chip for both firewire ports, the 400 was just a physical connector. So the only thing they've done in the MBP here is drop the 400 connector…

    The main point most people are annoyed about though is the complete loss on the new Macbook so this is all a bit of an aside…

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  • PAAT777

    Been waiting FOREVER for the new MacBook and had saved to buy one day of launch. Very disappointed. Job's reply is pathetic. Now a more expensive MacBook requires a new video camera too. By the time I can afford a camcorder, new MacBooks will be out. Also does everyone (including Jobs) realize you can control your camcorder with firewire, but not with USB. So even if I get a USB camcorder, I can no longer control it from iMovie or Final Cut Express. We've gone back 10 years. I've talked so many people into Macs for ease of use doing video. Have no arguement now. No I wont defend Apple's move. I'm POed.

  • As a high school teacher who uses an iBook daily and uses it to teach audio and video production, I'm one of the reasons Apple has become more popular with students.

    But I want to continue to do firewire-import video on an affordable machine.

    My students and I do not have Pro budgets but we still want to have fun with iMovie and Final Cut Express. We want firewire on a non-pro unit, OK?

  • john chr.

    So the macbook was over 5 iterations equipped with FW 400, and now no longer is. What's the issue? Keep the macbook you've got, or buy the entry level white macbook, it's even cheaper than ever! Demanding that the manufacturer Must Not Alter the specs of their entry level laptop is ridiculous, mildly put. From my contact with ordinary macbook users it is evident that few have ever used the FW port, particularly since the most important reason to plug a drive into your mac lately (making a backup) is now taken care of nicely over usb or wirelessly with time machine.
    FW has been around now for more than a decade, and as technologies go, that's long enough for an update or perhaps migration to a more current technology, if the take-up of that technology is not turning into a standard or is meeting with natural barriers. The audio industry was slow to pick up on FW, and perhaps the time is now to begin to move on and develop new technologies. Those with macbook pros already have the express34 port which makes an eSATA connector a $25 reality, as well as audio solutions like the Universal Audio UAD-Xpander. Hey audio equipment developers! Get me a cheap Express34 4in/4out card, or an ethernet controller keyboard, or 64 knobs/pads/plugs to interface with my computer of choice!..
    There are plenty alternatives to the macbook, and the way I see it, if like me you need FW and your next computer purchase is imminent, now is the time to look at those alternatives. Keep 'old' computer? Buy cheap macbook? MBP? Get iMac? MP? Dell?

  • this stinks

    I thought the macbook air was for the internet surfing look goods.

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  • Carl Lumma

    Peter Kirn wrote:

    >But we don't work for Apple. We work for

    Speak for yourself (I work for Apple).

    >And I think it should be abundantly clear from
    >this thread that removing a port — while a
    >relatively small change — is not proving a
    >popular decision or a selling point. End of

    Perhaps we should throw a parallel port on
    there too.

    >First, Apple introduces FireWire

    Apple and Sony.

    >It's wildly superior to USB1, which is what's
    >available at the time.

    It's wildly faster, and it allows peer-to-peer
    connections, but it's wildly more expensive to
    implement, because the bitcrunching has to be
    done in the peripheral. And it suffers from
    two different connectors and brandings (i.Link
    and FireWire), both of which were controlled in
    a gestapo-like manner by Sony and Apple.

    >Then USB2 arrives — it still doesn't catch up
    >with FireWire,

    USB2 is marginally faster than FireWire in
    ideal circumstances, but it will never be a
    peer-to-peer bus.

    >I think the long-term result will be that
    >FireWire dies.

    That's what everybody's hoping.


  • Okay, fair enough — *I* don't work for Apple, and neither do many of the people reading this thread. So unless *they're* holding Apple stock or something, the argument ought to be about functionality not what happens to make business sense for Apple. That's fine, of course, no one is saying this isn't Apple's choice to make — the whole point is that there is competition in the market. The bizarre thing is some people making an argument as though there isn't competition.

    The parallel port comparison makes no sense. And, in fact, PC hardware has all kinds of legacy ports today, and regularly ships them after Apple stops. It's obviously useful to someone. There's also obviously an argument for taking them off; that's not always a bad thing. But I think the whole point here is, you lose one port on a machine that was already limited, you don't add a USB port, you don't replace it with something better. It's a minus. If it didn't matter, that'd be one thing. I would guess that this overwhelming feedback says otherwise. So, sure, maybe it's better to have a simpler, more compact machine and not bother. There's absolutely an argument for that. But you can't really tell someone *else* it doesn't matter. It's subjective. And unless the nonexistence of a FireWire port adds functionality, I don't see it as a functional improvement. (What is the sound of no FireWire ports clapping?)

  • Carl Lumma

    It's got nothing to do with business sense, it's just SJ doing his minimalist thing, and trying to push the industry in the direction he wants it to go. I think the parallel port comparison is apt precisely because most PC laptops still have them. I just got an expensive new ThinkPad and it has one. I don't want that damn thing on there! Same thing with floppy drives and the original iMac. It truly was a feature not to have one.

    I understand the frustration, and I was being a bit obnoxious on purpose. But one must understand that we don't need two special-purpose data/power interconnects in the world (USB and FireWire). We hardly need one with wireless going the way it is.

    I rolled my eyes when I first heard about the mini DisplayPort connector, too. But it's an awesome connector — way easier to use than the standard DP connector. And I think we include a mini-standard adapter with every mini-DP product we sell. But don't quote me on that.

  • Carl Lumma

    Crap, it hid my disclaimer because I put angle brackets around it. The previous comment was entirely my personal opinion and speculation, and contained no information connected to my job.

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  • 4lefts

    to re-emphasise what peter said, taking away firewire BUT NOT REPLACING IT WITH SOMETHING IS NOT BETTER. taking away the floppy drive but having a cd-rom and usb? no big deal. taking away a FW but still keeping only two usbs? big deal. that's not minimalism, that's being a tight arse. i still need a usb hub to use my printer, mouse, scanner, external HDD, usb stick all at once.

    "we hardly need one (connction system) with wireless going the way it is" – yeah, i'll take two of those new audio interfaces that stream 10 tracks of 24-bit 96kHz audio over wi-fi. oh, wait, yeah, that's science fiction. it's like telling a kid "sorry, nothing for christmas this year, cos, yeah, your presents next year are going to be amazing, they just don't exist yet. there's some awesome transformers coming out next september though".

    the "what's in the box" section of the apple store makes no mention of a mini DP connector. on a laptop that costs nearly a thousand pounds???? tight bastards. that means i can't use it with a whiteboard, and means i'm not going to buy one.

  • If only I was in manufacturing and could build an ethernet/firewire adaptor (theoretically 100Mbit should fit the firewire bandwidht) and also have a a solid driver to make it work for music apps/hw I would probably become a millionaire pretty soon – hopefully someone in taiwan is already thinking about it.

    I, just like many others, had my cash ready for the new macbook, but I'll probably stick to my black '07 macbook for a while as size and Duet compatibility are a must for me…

  • Claude Ravel

    Hey Lumma, you are really kind of a creep, but I think you know that already.

  • Dri

    "We now return to our regularly scheduled, Theremin-filled music tech news."

    Hahahaha, oh Peter.

  • This what I got to say. APPLE FUCKED UP ON ALL OF US! My girl friend has a macbook and wanted the new one untill she looked at the NO FIREWRIE problem she's not a pro at all. It was so funny last night when I told her there was no Firewire she was so mad. We were in the apple store and she had the cash in her hand then I told her no Firewire she said "NNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!" cause she just got a new camera that was a $700 and it's firewire and she was so happy for the new macbook. I wish I had video of this in the store. Then they tryed so hard to sell her the new macbook pro but it's to big for her.

  • jsfranco

    If the firewire port had to go, so be it.
    But for crying out loud, leave "some" option for connectivity! How about an ExpressCard slot? at least people would be able to add firewire, more USBs, eSATA or a you name it – they would have a CHOICE. The alternatives to firewire for real-time transfer gear on USB2 or Wifi or even Ethernet simply DO NOT exist to this day (and will never on USB2 as its just a crappy protocol). Moving out of Firewire should have been AFTER an alternative becomes available.

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