Peeved at Apple, Again…

Posted on by Larry

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.

2 Responses to Peeved at Apple, Again…

  1. Zak Ray says:

    I have to side with Apple on this one, Larry. The low-end MacBook is exactly that: low-end. It’s got a 5400rpm system drive, already unsuitable for serious video editing. If anyone is doing “home movies” on this machine, they’re probably using a USB tapeless camera, and they probably don’t care about using an external scratch disk. Anybody who’s serious about doing video work wouldn’t buy this machine in the first place, FireWire or no.

    Now what I’M interested in is Magic Mouse integration with FCP.

  2. Jim says:

    Hi Larry

    Going against the grain slightly regarding your latest Apple peeve. I think Apple have looked at their laptop range and decided if you are going to edit video on one of our laptops, why would you do it on anything else other than a MacBook Pro? (And on its biggest and best screen). Let’s face it if you found yourself out in the field without an external video monitor and you wanted a fighting chance of getting a piece finished and looking half way decent they’d be absolutely right. But Apple isn’t off the hook just quite yet because this brings me onto my Apple peeve. Why, when they brought out their new LED 24″ Cinema Display, did Apple make no effort whatsoever to produce a reasonably priced DVI TO Mini Display Port adaptor? In one fell swoop thousands of customers who purchased a 17″ MacBook Pro as late as December 2008 or a Mac Pro as late as Feb 2009 were excluded from acquiring this new display device. What an own goal, a decision that’s a major revenue killer. Alternatives? Well one third party has produced an adaptor but it costs nearly $200! and believe it or not there are other display devices out there that are not only better but cost about the same, so, as we say over here in Scotland “Hell mend them!”.

    PS even the new MacBook with its inadequate choice of Ports has a Mini Display Port which makes the situation even more nuts.

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