This morning Apple announced a plethora of new hardware, some of which looks pretty interesting — as long as you aren’t interested in editing video.
You see, Apple removed the FireWire port from the MacBook – again. A few iterations ago, FireWire was in. Then, they took it out. Hue and cry ensued. They put it back. Now, it’s gone again.
The only interfaces that remain for moving data between the computer and an external drive is USB2, Airport, or Ethernet .
The problem with USB2 is that it is too slow – roughly half the speed of FireWire 400.
The problem with Airport is that it is slower than USB2.
The problem with Ethernet is that there is no way to connect a FireWire device via the Ethernet port. And that’s assuming you are willing to give up a high-speed connection to your server, in order to attach a separate hard drive.
Yes, you can use your Ethernet port to connect an iSCSI device – provided you have a device that supports it. However, you can’t convert between FireWire and iSCSI. Or eSATA. Or PCIe. In other words, your data is trapped on your hard disks and can’t get off. Not on these MacBooks.
If Apple had replaced FireWire with some new high-performance port that we could connect peripherals to, I could understand. But to remove a critical high-performance port and replace it with nothing is just STUPID!
I realize that FireWire is not the fastest interface out there. eSATA, PCIe, iSCSI, and FibreChannel are all faster. However, the MacBook has never had an ExpressCard/34 slot, so that rules out eSATA, PCIe, and FibreChannel. And I know of only one iSCSI storage device currently shipping – the DroboPro. A great unit, but hardly as affordable as a stand-alone hard drive.
Granted, the vast Macintosh public may not need to connect external devices. (I’m sure no one really needs to back up their data to anything but a slow hard drive.) But media professionals do – whether working with audio or video. Media remains a core part of the Macintosh market.
According to Apple’s financial report, earlier this week, for every desktop Apple sells, they sell three laptops. However, what bothers me about today’s announcement is that increasingly, it is becoming very, very difficult to use any of Apple’s laptops to do what Macintosh systems do best – easily work with massive media files.
We had this conversation earlier this year, when the MacBook Pros were updated – and FireWire disappeared. Now, it’s disappeared from the MacBooks. At this rate, it will disappear in the next iteration of iMacs! Not all of us want to wait while our media backs up to a Time Capsule. Nor do we want to attempt to edit HD video while connected to a USB2 drive.
Apple can do better – without jeopardizing form factor or profits.
They just need to care.
P.S. You can send feedback to Apple on this issue at:
Complaining won’t fix anything in the current releases – but, perhaps, they will give this consideration in the future.
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