It’s port talk time again.
As I suspected, Apple’s 17” MacBook Pro does get one additional port. You get 3 USB ports and one FireWire 800 port – though this means that, even though there’s almost no hardware that supports FW800, you’ll need an adapter for FW400 devices like HDV/DV cameras. At least unlike the non-Pro current-gen MacBook, you can use your video camera with that adapter, though, and three USB ports I think is more sensible.
The MBP does lose the dedicated FW400 port on the previous model, but because this shared the same bus, you didn’t get a performance gain out of it. What I have heard from some concerned users is that Apple changed the FireWire chipset on the new MacBook Pro. That hasn’t yielded any specific problems yet that I’ve seen, but keep an eye out.
Apple being Apple has to go over the top talking about “Ports with possibilities” and “If it has a cable, there’s a place for it” as if this is different from any commodity PC (or even their previous models). They also puzzlingly say “MacBook Pro even recognizes what you plug in, so you don’t have to install new drivers.” I’m assuming they’re talking about class-compliant devices there, but that’s not all devices. If they’re talking about Windows’ annoying habit of reinstalling drivers when you switch ports, well, that’s a bandwagon I’ll get aboard.
Visualists, this MBP, like the other new MacBooks, has no analog TV out. The Mini DisplayPort allows hookup to VGA, DVI, and HDMI, but not S-Video. And I’m still unhappy that Apple uses a different connector than everyone else when DisplayPort is trying desperately to get off the ground.
I still can’t help but notice that the Asus laptop I just picked up in an emergency when a computer died is only 15.4”, has FW400, DVI, VGA, S-Video, and four USB ports, plus a standard NVIDIA 9500M GT, for $950. Even saying that, though, S-Video doesn’t look long for this world anywhere.
Lest I see like a perpetual grinch, I think the 17” MacBook Pro is an incredible machine. The case is gorgeous, the screen is fantastic. And the big news is that they’ve gotten a superior LED backlight onto a 17” screen. On top of that, you can get 7-8 hours of battery life. It supports the dual NVIDIA 9400M + 9600M graphics card combination, which while not the fastest GPU out there is nothing to sneeze at. The US$2799 price is likely to put it out of range for some people, but I can’t help but admire it as a machine. In the meantime, my dirty-cheap Asus, older MacBook, and I will get along fine for now.