General Question

MrMontpetit's avatar

What was Apple thinking?

Asked by MrMontpetit (1833 points ) October 18th, 2008

So most of you probably know that the new Macbooks recently were released. One thing I noticed is that they don’t even have firewire! Apple was the company that introduced firewire, and now TONS of people use it on their cameras, etc. Look at iLife, what is in iLife, iMovie, how are you supposed to get your video clips into iMovie from your digital camera or whatever you have without firewire? Does anybody know why Apple decided to do this? I think it was a stupid move.

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20 Answers

blastfamy's avatar

You’ll actually find that USB is what most digital cameras use for device interconnects, these days. Regardless of the advantages of firewire over USB, USB won out. It does not make business sense to sell firewire on the macbook, as relatively few people in the target market for the macbook would have much conceivable need for the port. Those who need the firewire can purchase a macbook pro. If you need to do any serious video editing, why would you want to use a macbook over a macbook pro anyway?

sndfreQ's avatar

Most linear media devices are on their way out. FireWire was needed because of transfer throughout of a “real-time” video capture (transferring off tape into the computer hard drive). Now with removable cards (SDHC and newer generation Compact Flash that is said to reach 120GB), the reality is that with a $10 card reader users don’t need to ever connect their cameras to their computers. Another big push is for WiFi cards on cameras (Digital SLRs are already starting to come out with this feature).

USB2 is fast enough for the compressed entry-level HD video (AVCHD), so even connecting external hard drives that are USB2 will be sufficient for compressed HD video.

As Blastfamy has alluded to above, the leap to uncompressed HD requires much higher bandwidth, and newer formats such as FW800, eSATA and USB3 and FW3200 will be introduced to meet that demand.

wilhel1812's avatar

I think we have two great answers to this now.

robmandu's avatar

Rainer Brokerhoff makes some great observations about many of the design decisions made in construction of the new MacBooks.

My personal opinion is that Apple should’ve kept one Firewire port (either 400 or 800) on the MacBook for at least one more generation. The DV format is still mainstream and has not really been supplanted by the newer technologies yet. USB2.0 lacks the sustained throughput to handle real-time video transfer from those devices. For people making home movies with existing equipment, it’s a big deal.

Still, that’s Apple. They’re always looking ahead. And they’re not afraid to make the tough decisions.

sndfreQ's avatar

@robmandu-good points, but that may be the reason they’re still offering the previous generation MacBook at the $899 price point. For those “legacy” types. AVCHD has been out for nearly a year and a half, and by summer ‘09 it will be post HD switch-over for broadcasters and a likely end-of-life cycle for existing SD MiniDV cams in the consumer marketplace.

I would liken it to the rapid tapering off of the Sony MiniDisc format when the iPod first made its debut back in 2001. It took a little while to gain momentum but within two years it real buried that format (for similar reasons regareding technical advantages, proprietary storage, antiquated audio codec, etc.).

HDV may also be sunset in a year too, as even prosumer models from major brands (Canon, Panny, Sony) are bolstering AVCHD, and in the case of hard drive-based internal storage, are connecting via USB2 in virtually every model.

My opinion is that internal solid state and removable solid state (flash-based media) will end the need for that real-time throughout and capture within a year…but I think I already said that in my previous post.

robmandu's avatar

Clarity of future trends is something Apple excels at… and so I want to agree with you, @sndfreQ. It’s just hard to see from this side of the time continuum.

sndfreQ's avatar

right…especially in light of the economy; perhaps after Feb. 17 ‘09 there will be a trend of folks shifting to HD-everything. I for one am holding on to my CRT SD TV…funny thing is, in the end (or at least until Blu-Ray Disc becomes robust enough and drops in price), people will be shooting HD (compressed), but outputting to DVD (basically an SD format at 480p), which is like people taking pics with 10-megapixel still shooters and outputting/viewing it on their cell phones as wallpapers…

robmandu's avatar

BTW, we need not only discuss our complaints here… Apple provides a product feedback page for just such as this.

benseven's avatar

I don’t understand the huge fuss people are making over the lack of Firewire.

If you really need it, buy the MBP. However, as has been rightly pointed out, it’s pretty rare nowadays that a device offers solely firewire for connectivity.

Folk seem to forget that Apple put a lot of thought into their well-designed and successful products, and they probably know what they’re doing. The same kind of noises were made when they killed of FW on the iPod – and I certainly don’t miss it, do you?

I actually love Firewire, but I reckon it’s only 400 that’s been killed off to make way for FW3200 that should be ratified before long, that will make an appearance in the laptops of next year (though maybe only the pro models).

wilhel1812's avatar

Actually i miss firewire support for the iPods… The only iPod i can sync via firewire now is my iPod Mini.

benseven's avatar

But how much difference has it actually made to operating the iPod, in normal use? Sure, you can’t boot off an iPod that’s not FW, but how many normal users were actually doing that?

I like it better, but for something like the iPod I don’t see it as necessary.

PIXEL's avatar

Yeah you know they still sell the previous MacBooks for allot cheaper too. Silly boy.

benseven's avatar

@ Pixel, who was that directed at, and upon reading it aloud, do you find it in any way amusing? Because it just makes you sound like an arse.

PIXEL's avatar

@benseven Thank you for pointing that out in such a generous way. I believe if I was trying to respond to someone other than the person asking the question I would have something similar to ”@benseven”. What I was saying is that you can still purchaise a MacBook Pro or MacBook of the previous generation so nobodys missing on anything. I know my response was rushed (Lots of new Fluther activity) but I don’t see how I sound like an ass. It was just a tad more unprofessional.

I also never read the answers above before answering this question before.

benseven's avatar

@ Pixel – I would think you’d be far more easily classed as a ‘silly boy’ if you went out and bought a slower, less robust Macbook with a worse graphics chip just to get FW400 when there’s far better available. The fact you would even suggest that just proves your ignorance in the matter. If you don’t have something that’s actually going to be a helpful contribution to the discussion, skip to your next activity.

monkey_boy_mke's avatar

Who knows, maybe some enterprising (yet dim-witted) 3rd-party hardware manufacturer will market an external Firewire card which, er, plugs into the USB port… Bugger.

PIXEL's avatar

@benseven What I meant to say was you can still buy a previous generation MacBook Pro or MacBook from the Apple Store with FireWire 400 and with the faster NVIDIA GeForce 8600M chip. I hope you didn’t think I meant buy from anywere else. It’s the previous generation with the same speed.

I was mistaken though that it was cheaper. They only made the older MacBooks cheaper.

robmandu's avatar

@Pixel, dude, the MacBook White does not come with the new Nvidia GeForce 8600M graphics card. It still uses the same old sluggish Intel GMA X3100 graphics processor with 144MB of DDR2 SDRAM that’s shared with main memory.

Up to this redesign, the old MacBooks always used those Intel integrated graphics. So, the MacBook White does offer FW400 as well as a slightly faster CPU than the new entry level aluminum unibody MacBook… but it’s still much slower performance-wise because the new MacBook is able to offload so much graphics work to the new Nvidia subsystem.

PIXEL's avatar

@robmandu Okay sorry I’ll correct myself.”you can still buy a previous generation MacBook Pro or MacBook from the Apple Store with FireWire 400 and with the faster NVIDIA GeForce 8600M chip.” I guess it would be best to leave now.

robmandu's avatar

To @Pixel’s point, as of this quip (22OCT2008:13:22:00), Apple is selling a refurb’d MBP with 15.4-inch widescreen display, 2GB memory, 200GB hard drive, 8x SuperDrive (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW), NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT with 256MB of GDDR3 memory and Firewire (800, I think) for only $1,349.

If you can live with not having the sweetest of industrial design, multi-touch trackpad, easily replaceable hard drive & battery, and better graphics performance… but otherwise have Mac goodness with a larger screen and FW for the equivalent price as an entry aluminum, unibody MacBook… well, it’s worth serious consideration.

(sigh) Why must everything be a tradeoff?

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