give us firewire or give us death!
October 17, 2008 4:39 AM   Subscribe

why are people freaking out and bemoaning the "removal of firewire" on the new macbooks and macbooks pros? they both still have a firewire 800 port. but nobody is specifically saying "they removed firewire 400!!". it's all "well now i'm never buying one of those since they totally killed firewire." and buying a firewire 400 to 800 cable or converter is under $20. am i missing something?
posted by dithmer to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
They both do not still have a firewire 800 port. Just the MBP does. Macbook specs. Macbook Pro specs.
posted by saraswati at 5:03 AM on October 17, 2008

- new MacBook Pros still have Firewire (800)
- new MacBooks do not have any Firewire.

This is what people are complaining about--the new MacBook. Myself included. While I understand that Apple has pulled Firewire from the low-end model in order to more differentiate it from the Professional line, this doesn't negate the fact that the new MacBooks are viewed by many as inferior to its predecessor--never a good thing in the tech market.

As a Mac Tech, I rely on Firewire way more than the average Mac user. Firewire Target Disk Mode is one of those things that has always made Macs stand out. To have it suddenly MIA from an entire line of very popular computers is shocking.

Yes, it's true that Migration Assistant will work via ethernet cabling. But as good as Migration Assistant is, it's still no replacement for Firewire and Target Disk Mode.

While the new MacBook is indeed a sexy machine, I maintain that it was a mistake for Apple to remove Firewire in order to force upsell the MacBook Pro line. Want Firewire? Then you'll have to buy the Pro line laptop which costs $1000 more. My prediction is that this new MacBook won't sell as well as its predecessor. Apple is tacitly acknowledging this by continuing to sell the preceding model as the entry-level MacBook. I'm recommending to many of my clients that they carefully compare the two models (White MacBook and new MacBook) before buying.
posted by at 5:04 AM on October 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

They are complaining about firewire removal on the macbook .The regular macbook has no firewire port anymore. YEs it makes a difff because apples pc's are expensive to begi nwith. IF people like dell can put in a firewire port on pcs cheaper then the macbooks why couldnt apple?
posted by majortom1981 at 5:04 AM on October 17, 2008

I work in computer support for students at a very large university, where Macbooks are common. We see failing Macbooks several times a week and Target Disk Mode is our only way of even seeing the drive so we can back up student's data. Without it, there's nothing much we can do.

Our current option for these is to install Leopard on a USB external drive. I've been told that the new Macbooks do have the option to boot from USB, so we're going to try this to access the system disk.

What's also troubling is the lack of DVI output (both Macbooks and Pros). We also need this to troubleshoot when monitors go bad; now we need to buy a Mini DisplayPort adapter (another $30). It's okay when we're the support group of a university, but it's just another additional cost for the end user if you need it for whatever reason (say, you're a designer and need to work on a larger monitor).
posted by lou at 5:26 AM on October 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

Lou, all Intel Macs can boot from Mac OS X installed on a USB HD. This is my preferred troubleshooting tool now. I have several bus-powered 2.5" HDs in OWC ( cases that have Firewire 800 and USB ports. So with Leopard installed on one of the HDs, I can boot any Mac made in the last 5 years or so: PPC via Firewire, Intel via Firewire (or USB, if that's all that's present).

HD is partitioned into three partiions: one for the OS X install with all my diagnostics tools, data recovery tools, etc. The 2nd partition is actually a Leopard 10.5.4 Retail installer that I can boot into...since installing from a FWHD is much faster than from DVD. And the 3rd partition is a data store for data recovery, software installers, etc.
posted by at 5:55 AM on October 17, 2008

Most Mini DV video cameras use firewire to transfer data. A heck of a lot of hard drives purchased for Macs are firewire only, a few scanners use Firewire, Firewire is used for target disk mode to transfer data and do HD repairs.
posted by Gungho at 6:38 AM on October 17, 2008

FYI, the other thing to remember is that the macbook's hard drive just slides in and out. Sure, there's no target disk mode, but if you get a USB enclosure for 2.5" drives you can access the drive almost as easily. It takes about a minute to get one of those disks out.
posted by paanta at 6:40 AM on October 17, 2008

Speaking as a person about to drop the cash to buy a new laptop, it matters to me that the macbook has no firewire. I am buying from the old line at this point and will upgrade the ram and hard drive myself. I have a lot of data on firewire and USB 2 is not cutting it, and it is obvious when I move a load of data via USB vs. Firewire. Yes, to the above about external cameras and other equipment.

I am recommending to people to buy the previous version.
posted by jadepearl at 6:45 AM on October 17, 2008

Response by poster: ah! tricky apple website. it re-directed me to the macbook pro page without even asking!

and trust me... i'm in the entertainment industry... i totally get the importance of firewire.
posted by dithmer at 7:25 AM on October 17, 2008

I also consider lack of firewire to be a big deal. I'm not in tech-support, but I kind of get roped into that duty for friends. I've used target-disk mode to recover data off an ailing powerbook (with a dead screen, so booting from an external is no help).

The fact that the hard drive can be popped out relatively easily does go a way towards ameliorating FW's absence, but it's still unfortunate. It probably is a matter of feature differentiation—it seems unlikely that it was done to meet a price point.

It's interesting to note that the first generation or two of iBooks lacked FW. Eventually that got added. Obviously FW's place in the computing ecosystem is different these days, but given that Apple's consumer laptops have tended to pick up features from the pro laptops, it's not inconceivable that FW will reappear.
posted by adamrice at 8:45 AM on October 17, 2008

I'm a photographer and I was thinking about getting a Macbook to shoot tethered (where the camera is hooked up via Firewire to the computer and you shoot into a program like Capture One instead of onto the camera's card) for on location shoots. I don't really need the power of the Pro to do that and now I don't want to spend an extra $1k to get the Firewire port. It's stupid.
posted by bradbane at 10:35 AM on October 17, 2008

@bradbane If you're shooting with a pro canon body, it'll work tethered over USB with Capture One Pro.
posted by eatcake at 1:33 PM on October 17, 2008

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