If you’re upset about no Firewire on the new Macbooks…don’t buy one!

In the world of Apple blogging it is easy to make a mountain out of a mole hill. Since the release of the new Macbook and Macbook Pros there has been an uproar online about the fact that the new Macbooks don’t have Firewire support.

The reason for this clear, and simple. The Macbook is a consumer level product. Most consumer level camcorders and other devices that people would want to connect to their Macbooks now use USB. Firewire has lost the connectivity war.

If you look at Amazon’s top ten best selling camcorders only one of them even supports Firewire…and it also has a USB connection.

The Macbook Pro still has a firewire connector, and if you’re a video professional and you have an older camera with Firewire then you may want to pick it up. Otherwise you may want to invest in a FireWire/USB Hub. They’ll run you between $45 and $100 – which is certainly cheaper than buying a new camera.

The sad fact here, is that Firewire is on the way out. You have choices here other than getting on the internet and complaining. If the Macbook’s lack of a Firewire port is so upsetting to you that you can’t stand it — then don’t buy a Macbook.

It’s really that simple. That’s not me trying to be a jerk – that’s just the actual solution to the problem. I have a Canon H20 – it’s a nice HD Camcorder, and I’m not getting rid of it any time soon. It uses a Firewire port – and I will not be purchasing a Macbook because of its lack of support. I had considered selling my Macbook Pro to buy the wife and I dual Macbooks…but now that’s not something I’m willing to consider.

I’ll either wait until I can afford the new Macbook Pro – or until I decide to buy a new camera. Either way, I won’t be losing any sleep at night because Apple has decided to phase out a technology that the rest of the industry is already phasing out.

Comments

  1. If you need a FireWire than you can buy a new MacBook Pro and buy an ExpressCard FireWire host adapter for about 40$

  2. Good thoughts. It might be helpful to explain for some (like me!) why Mac is discontinuing FW and some history behind the whole decision. I really had no idea and this took me by total surprise. I understand it much better after doing some research. This very prophetic article from Dec. 2005 (believe it not!) helped me quite bit in understanding the whole history and current scenario. Makes more sense now.

    http://mac360.com/index.php/mac360/comments/is_firewire_dead_or_dying_at_apple/

  3. Mikael Langfos says:

    Hmm, isn’t there a FW 800 to FW 400 adapter? Think Steve talked about that I think.

  4. As I recently tried to get a Firewire 400 case for a Hard drive of mine, I found it extreemy hard to either find one or that the price was way too high. So its also much more of a price question too. While USB in both formats has always kept the price down, Fire wire has always kept the price up, always claiming to be so much better. In this day and age connectivity needs to be cheap and simple, and that’s why firewire got the shove. The Firewire 800 even changed the connector ends, so your old 400 cables won’t fit. Backwards compatbility is the rule, USB did it Blueray and HD DVD did it. For those who don’t comply it’s just a sad goodbye. New Tech needs to be Backwards compatable, peaople are just nt willing any more to throw out and buy new before it is absolutly required, it’s just something everyone in tech should think about.

  5. My thing is, even if FW was a big deal to me, I have a Mac Pro. I wouldn’t be doing any kind of video editing on a laptop anyway. I bought a $600 HD Camcorder and it doesn’t have FW. I don’t see the big deal. FW is a high-end I/O for video professionals. The MacBook is not. It’s high enough for a lot of cool stuff, but FW is not one of them. I agree with you Michael, people need to stop their whining and forget about it. If you need FW, then you’re going to just have to save up a little bit more and buy the MacBook Pro

  6. well, there’s issue about size vs pro/non-pro level. I want pro parameters in smaller macbook. I will NEVER buy that (for me) monster big macbook pro. I want even little bit smaller one, than macbook is.
    Apple has problem with small range and variations. There’s no 10” nanoMacBook for example, and now there’s no macbook with firewire

  7. I guess there are lots of audio interfaces that use usb, but a lot of the good ones use firewire. I really like firewire a lot and no, I won’t be buying a macbook, but yes, I am disappointed that they are shelving a great technology that changed both audio and video for the semi-professional for the better.

  8. Two problems with this screed –

    (1) Apple just made a big deal about the MacBook being “$700 less” then the MBP. So yeah, they are trying to have it both ways.

    (2) No MBP comes with a 13″ footprint. I seem to recall that PowerBooks did.

    Look, there’s a demand for a smaller footprint Pro. But Apple – probably in the form of a single person with the initials SJ – decided a few years ago to screw that market segment.

  9. @DaveD

    The Market segment isn’t screwed. No one is screwed – BUY AN ADAPTER. It’s not that complicated.

  10. James Bailey says:

    Hmm, a Firewire to USB hub doesn’t translate between the two protocols. It is just a convenience thing to have two separate hubs in one case.

    Someone else said, buy an adapter. Again, that sounds like a good idea, the only problem is, that as far as I can tell, such adapters for the Mac don’t exist. The one adapter I did find was for Windows XP only (no Vista either) and was only for DV conversions, nothing else.

  11. We ARE screwed. The FW-speed will be lost if you use an adapter to connect to USB. That is: if you can find one. Why would they make one? God – sorry, Steve has said FW is dead. Why invest in making an adapter?
    Maybe an idea for this blog: start an enquiery. See how many people planned to buy a new Macbook, and now decided not to. You may be surprised.

  12. firewire supports booting from external disks. usb does not. that is the one and only reason i chose firewire over usb for my external hard drive. and it’s got nothing to do with camcorders or (not) being a pro, for me.

    the solution, for me, is indeed to stick with my old macbook. which, to be honest, i would probably have done anyways. i’m not mental enough to spend more than a thousand bucks for some new looks and slight hardware updates.

    but still, i do feel kind of disappointed for apple dropping the firewire port. i mean, it doesn’t take up terribly much space, and i can’t imagine it costs that much to include, either. ah well.

  13. So stop crying about Obama or Mcain, if you don’t like one, don’t vote for him? It’s that simple? If anyone would like to gripe about no FW, please feel free to do so. Staying quite is exactly what allows companies to dictate what consumers should have instead of consumers themselves.

    In any event, Macs suck.

  14. Michael,

    I’ll let the comments that followed serve as a reply. Trust me, I looked for an adapter – and yes, it IS that complicated.

    Look, believe it or not, I prefer coding on a small laptop. I used to use a 12″ PowerBook and upgraded to a MacBook. I’m not very gentle, so my first one splintered on the right wrist edge and the button started malfunctioning after about 14 months. No biggie – I bought a second one. I do have the extended Apple protection but saw this as a reason to purchase some redundant hardware.

    I’m glad I did both of these things – moving to Intel and buying redundant hardware. Coding an iPhone app requires an Intel box, and well, my new MacBook had a HDD crash after 7 months. (First time anything like that happened with any Apple hardware.)

    I regularly do three kinds of backups. Synchronize Pro to archive things on my NAS, Mozy for offsite mission-critical items, and finally SuperDuper! for a bootable clone. When my drive crashed I simply plugged my FireWire Lacie in and continued on. Over the next 10 days I swapped HDDs between my two MacBooks, tried various restores and Erase and Installs, and pretty much determined that my HDD died a sudden death.

    I’d love to purchase that sturdier and faster MacBook. One day I probably will. But I’m in no hurry – because the best I can see me doing is also purchasing an ethernet Lacie and changing my bootable clone to be a “Sparse Disk Image” one.

    The inconvenience is that I’ll need to (1) purchase another Lacie, (2) retire my current and perfectly good Lacie, and (3) know that in a HDD catastrophe I’ll have to first swap my HDD and then restore from my Lacie.

    All this because Apple discontinued any Intel laptop under 15″ with FireWire.

  15. I really like firewire a lot and no, I won’t be buying a new macbook. For the record, there is no such thing as a USB to firewire converter. Lastly, the new MacBook is $1,300 – that kind of money should buy a full featured laptop.

  16. I agree with the article. If you you are too upset about firewire don’t buy a Macbook. That is exactly what I sadly intend to do. And I don’t buy the pro line — I’m not a gamer (Gamers need a Macbook Pro ironically) and if I need a big screen I hook up to the 24 on the desktop. Too much data tied up in too many terabytes of firewire enclosed hard drives and their backups full of 10 years of audio, video, and digital photography daisy chained throughout my office. Too huge of a backlog of video tape that needs to move to DVD. Too much state-of-the-art audio equipment with daisy chain-able firewire goodness. I’ve always forgiven Apple in the past 20 years for their little indiscretions, but this time I am thoroughly and completely angry. I usually update my laptop once every two years and have stayed toward the top end of the consumer line. That is changing today. If I upgrade now it’s going to cost BIG TIME. Also the dozen family and friends who have me recommend computer choices, all those who have been rescued from Windows Hell, may not be buying them either (yes they ALL have older model ibooks/macbooks). Why should they? It’s not like they will be able to get me to help them with computer problems if they do not have target mode on their machines, and I wouldn’t have a laptop with harddrive diagnostics/recovery AND a firewire port, would I. They also will not be able to use most of the firewire hard drives they have RECENTLY hooked up for time machine (yes, these are mostly exclusively firewire units) with Apple’s recommendation (Apple never uttered “USB” when pitching time machine a few short months ago). Jobs screwed up on this one big time and it has his fingerprints all over it. There is nothing old-tech or yesterday about firewire and this is a very serious fumble for Apple in the customer loyalty category and it WILL affect the upgrade rate to new machines in a significant way. Yep they are pretty, but sadly I’ll not own one for a long while because I bought the idea sold by apple that firewire was a great CONSUMER technology so guess what. I invested. OOps! Sorry, we meant it for pros. Keep your firewire capability by upgrading to a pro laptop. No thanks.

  17. hmurchison says:

    Another pedant article devoid of anything useful. Macbooks have always had Firewire and iMovie has supported Firewire from almost the very beginning. This refutes your consumer gibberish. Video isn’t even the area where FW has had the most impact ..it’s the audio realm where realtime isochronous support is a must. Look at most external audio interfaces ..once they hit a certain level the most popular are FW. In fact Apogee and Apple teamed up for the FW based Ensemble and Duet which are best of class.

    If FW was on its way out why was FW 3200 recently ratified this year?

    Please let me know when I can come to Apple Gazette and find sensible and articulate writing from someone that understands technology. And you all wonder why bloggers aren’t considered journalists.

    USB only has numeric superiority over FW. In any other metric FW wins. More power to devices, lower CPU utilization, Isochronous transfer, peer to peer support.

    Only a technology neophyte would would write the kind of ignorant garbage I just had to wade through.

    Please do better in the future.

  18. Firewire is superior to USB in every single tech category. Firewire is NOT only a pro interface. Firewire is in no way restricted to the world of digital cameras. Although many cameras now record direct to disk in MPEG formats it important to note that in many cases DV cameras offer better quality and better options for editing (yes, even domestic editing in iMovie). The fact they use USB just shows how cheap some manufacturers are. USB is good for data transfer (but firewire is better) but normally requires some special software to get the movies onto the computer. That software, if available on the mac, is sometimes of very poor quality. Firewire was designed to move video from the outset. The downside to DV is that files are huge.

    Firewire gives users the chance to balance the load of what’s coming in and leaving their mac. Removing it just places even more burden on the USB bus which has already shown itself to be an inefficient bus.

    Audio works extremely well over firewire, as does HD content transfer. Firewire over coaxial has already been approved (which will bring down cabling costs and increase distances). More and more hard disk manufacturers have been supporting firewire and targetting devices at mac users (even pre-formatting drives to HFS+).

    Many mac users have accumulated a lot of devices over the years that work just fine (I have firewire disks, drives, scanner, printers and RAID units) and Apple has a duty to those users as Apple itself took way too long to support USB2.

    I could go on and on but I won’t. I refuse to buy an Apple laptop without firewire and cannot afford an MBP. Looks like a cheap – fully equipped portable Hackintosh – is in my future unless Apple backtracks on this one.

  19. “FW is a high-end I/O for video professionals”.

    Not really: Firewire is popular because it is the low-end digital IO for consumer DV and HDV camcorders (high-end video IO is SDI or higher, mostly), and still is (these camcorders won’t dissapear anytime soon).

  20. hmurchison…you are exactly right…

    the fact is Apple is the one that got us gung ho about FW in the first place…i have my EyeTV 200, EyeTV 500, FW HDD’s, FW webcams (which there are no DECENT USB alternatives for Macs), MiniDV cameras, etc that i will not be giving up because Jobs decides i should not have them or still be using them because they are obsolete…that is INSANE

    not to mention all the Audio and Video people out there that use FW with their personal and professional work…

    MICHAEL you are a dumb ass to think that you can just spew off all those rude ass comments to us and think we will just sit back and allow you to do it…thats crazy

    we have every right to speak our minds about this situation and the fact that without FW I will not be buying the new Macbook…

    STOP WRITING ARTICLES ABOUT THE LACK OF FIREWIRE and we will stop bitching about it

    if they want to say that FW400 is on its way out then fine…say that but replace the FW port on the Macbook with the FW800…and dont say its because we dont need it…WE DO NEED IT or we would not be complaining so much about it…

    There’s a petition for Firewire in MacBooks

    http://www.petitiononline.com/MB1394/petition.html

    and you can tell Apple what you think about it:

    http://www.apple.com/feedback/macbook.html

    now if you think we are wrong…thats great…feel that way…but you are supposed to be a journalist then act like one…dont spew this bias crap that this article states

    if you are going to continue to write articles like this one there is a great chance of you losing the many people like me that listen to you…and that would be a sad for the Apple Gazette

  21. It is bad to drop the firewire port if the don’t give a decent alternative. Although it doesn’t have Pro in the name there are many Professionals using the Macbook for portability (the main reason we buy notebooks). The 13″ model fits in a bag much better than 15″.

    There are no multiple (more than 4 inputs) audiointerfaces which use USB, they are all firewire.
    So any kid trying to record his band at home on Garageband uses a firewire audio interface.

    I wouldn’t complain if they gave something in its place to be an upgrade(FW800 or Expresscard)

    We already have the Macbook air as a low functioning portable. It was some what understandable to drop the firewire port from it.

    USB2 hardrives aren’t nearly as good(audio dropouts, can’t use target mode, can’t boot from them)

    Right now it isn’t a big problem because they offer the cheap entry level Macbook.

    I hope Apple brings it back in the next revision. It is far too useful to be dropped now.

  22. It is that complicated, actually. As much as I love your podcasts Michael, I can’t believe how biased this article is. So maybe the MacBook *Pro* is manageable in terms of FireWire, because of the ability of hubs and ExpressCards. However, the new MacBook is *completely* FireWire-free, which rules out Target Disk Mode for maintenance purposes, which is an Apple asset that I thought Steve Jobs would defend.

    Michael, you talk about FireWire to USB hubs. However, such a peripheral does *not* exist and can’t exist due to major architectural differences. Although FireWire rapidly lost popularity due to USB 2.0, it doesn’t necessarily make it obsolete. Even though newer camcorders use USB 2.0, there is the vastly large population of the consumers on a budget- schools, notably. Sure, the MacBook White is still an option, but for how long?

    Not only video amateurs need FireWire, audio producers require FireWire. You must also be forgetting, the vast majority of Audio Interfaces operate on FW400, but none or none “good” interfaces exist over USB 2.0. Upgrading to a MacBook Pro is also an option, and maybe you can get newer peripherals, but think about this: considering a possible economic recession, do you really think that consumers will just throw even more money to that? Not gonna fly, buddy. The removal of the Floppy Drives in 1998 can’t be compared to the removal of FireWire.

    All I’m saying is, you need to take more into consideration, the consumers’ perspective, and that it got eliminated at the wrong time, too prematurely.

  23. @Bradley

    I understand, and see, your point. The thing you have to remember, however, is that I am a consumer. I’m not an insider that’s in Apple’s pocket, or somehow feels the need to defend things that they do…even if I think they’re wrong.

    If I think they’re wrong, then I say so. If I don’t, then I say so as well.

    Your point about the economic crisis we’re currently in is a good point, but I think you have to also consider that this decision was made long before the bottom fell out of everything in September. Apple would have already been at a manufacturing stage by that point — so they wouldn’t have been able to undo it even if they had wanted to. I’m not arguing your point, merely pointing out a fact about the development process.

    When I say “If you’re upset about no Firewire on Macbooks…don’t buy one” I mean that. DON’T BUY ONE. If it is truly important to a majority of Mac users and those Mac users DON’T buy one – then Apple will see a significant slope in sales – and they’ll know why with all this outrage over the firewire.

    I honestly believe that’s the best solution to the problem – because just saying “hey I’m mad” isn’t enough.

  24. @Michael

    Thanks for the fast response. And for the record, I totally agree with your solution. I know, some ranters can get annoying after a while, but the fact is that it’s an upsetting desicion made by Apple. Hopefully, there will be a slope in sales, but I shouldn’t get my hopes up on the return of FW. As a high school student (can believe that?), I’m actually saving up for a MacBook Pro, it’s just that I feel for those who are being affected by Apple’s desicion on the removal of FireWire. Target Disk Mode was such a useful asset that I thought that SJ would be protecting, and that’s one of the many reasons why I love the Macintosh. It’s just too early to remove such a useful peripheral.

Speak Your Mind

*