Time Magazine’s Gadget of the Week: Apple MacBook Pro

“When I wrote about Apple’s Intel-based iMac a few weeks ago, I said that the upcoming MacBook Pro was an ‘iMac on wheels.’ One reader wrote to say this was an unfair description, because the iMac was for consumers and the MacBook Pro was, well, for professionals. As true as that may be, the MacBook Pro is definitively a mobile version of the same basic system,” Wilson Rothman writes for Time Magazine. “Certainly, the MacBook does have a few elements that the iMac doesn’t share: The illuminated keyboard works with a twilight sensor, adjusting the backlighting so you can always see the keys; the screen is much brighter than previous models — fully viewable, even when you use it while sitting in a bay window on a sunny day; and the MagSafe magnetic breakaway power cord works as billed, so kids and cats can tug without risk to body or machine. Leave it to Apple designers to take a cue from the makers of deep fryers and fondue pots.”

Rothman writes, “On the ‘pro’ front, its chipset is upgradeable to 2.16 GHz for an extra bit of juice. In place of the old PC card slot, there’s a 34mm ExpressCard/34 slot. I looked around the Internet, and it doesn’t seem like there’s much you can do with that slot now. However, Apple says that many such products will soon be available, including memory-card readers and networking devices. (Be aware: some devices, such as current Verizon Wireless BroadbandAccess PC-card modems, won’t work on the MacBook Pro.) One noticeably absent feature is the FireWire 800 port found on G4 PowerBooks — could it be the end of that particular interface?”

MacDailyNews Note: Wilson, Wilson, Wilson. Didn’t you just get finished describing the ExpressCard/34 slot? Then you ask if it’s the end of FireWire 800? Sheesh. Related article: “Use the ExpressCard slot to add FireWire 800 to Apple’s new MacBook Pro.”

Rothman continues, “My only concern about the transition to Intel-based systems — the iMac, the MacBook Pro and the newly announced Core Duo Mac Mini — has to do with hard disks. If you boot up using an external drive, as many Mac users often do, you have to reformat that external drive to have something called a ‘GUID partition,’ otherwise the computer will simply not recognize it as a boot disk.”

Full article here.

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Related MacDailyNews articles:
PC Magazine review gives Apple MacBook Pro 4 out of 5 stars – March 03, 2006
Ars Technica: Apple MacBook Pro ‘an extremely solid machine, an important step forward’ – March 02, 2006
Mossberg: Apple’s MacBook Pro gives users a ‘much better OS with vastly better built-in software’ – March 02, 2006
New York Times’ Pogue: Apples MacBook Pro a ‘beautifully engineered, forward-thinking laptop’ – March 01, 2006
Apple MacBook Pro a ‘drop-dead gorgeous laptop’ – February 27, 2006
Macworld posts Apple MacBook Pro 2.0GHz first lab tests – February 22, 2006
Apple PowerBook G4 1.5GHz vs. MacBook Pro 2.0Ghz Adobe Photoshop benchmarks – February 22, 2006
Apple begins shipping MacBook Pro notebook computers with faster 2.16 GHz Intel Core Duo processors – February 14, 2006
Adobe: no native Intel Mac support until 2007; Photoshop could be 14 months away – February 01, 2006
Computerworld: Apple’s MacBook Pro ‘fast, really fast – looks like a real winner’ – January 28, 2006
Analyst: Apple seeing strong sales of iMac Core Duo, MacBook Pro, 5th generation iPod – January 25, 2006
Apple: expect MacBook Pro shortages – January 19, 2006
Use the ExpressCard slot to add FireWire 800 to Apple’s new MacBook Pro – January 15, 2006 (eSATA)
Apple MacBook Pro, ExpressCard and EVDO – January 14, 2006
Apple introduces MacBook Pro; up to four times faster than PowerBook G4 – January 10, 2006

23 Comments

  1. Well, if it’s a “Pro” machine, there SHOULD be a DEDICATED FireWire 800 port on the MacBook Pro.

    Hell, I actually use the FireWire 800 port on my PowerBook and often.
    Plus actually I use the PC Card slot AND I use them both the PC Card slot AND the FireWire 800 portat the same time, transferring image files from Compact Flash cards to the FireWire 800 hard drive via a PC Card CF adaptor. Or I’ll just plug in an Echo Indigo audio out PC Card when listening to music.

    So, why did Apple dump FireWire 800 from their “Pro” laptops? It’s a mystery to me.

  2. Hey MDN,

    The point is: It doesn’t come with FW 800. The previous one did.

    It’s like when the original imac didn’t come with a floppy disk. It effectively was the end of the floppy, although you could still (and still can) buy an external floppy drive.

    You guys are too much in the “Apple can do no wrong club”.

  3. I don’t need FW800 on my MacBook Pro. For those of you that do, go buy a FW800 ExpressCard/34 next month when they come out. I’d rather not pay for it when I don’t need it.

    Besides, Intel’s MB’s don’t support FW800, so how was Apple supposed to add it?

  4. “Besides, Intel’s MB’s don’t support FW800, so how was Apple supposed to add it?”

    Yes, that would be a problem if the MacBook Pro had an Intel Mobo in it. It does not. The board is built by Apple using Intel’s chipsets, so adding FW 800 would be very easy.

    I agree with some of the other posts that if anything was left out of the Pro line it should be FW 400. You can easily use FW 400 devices with a FW 800 port by getting an adapter cable, but you can never get back the added speed of a FW 800 device through a FW 400 port.

  5. It’s not like it doesn’t have Firewire at all. It doesn’t have the 800 but it does have 400. They are probabaly saving the 800 for the 17″ – my guess anyway. Why exactly, I have no idea.

    I’ve been living with Firewire 400 on my older G4 and it’s still far better than USB for transfering large files – USB can’t handel it fast or slow.

  6. “last I looked, eSATA is faster than firewire 800 and that option is more viable in the future than firewire 800”

    Sure, it’s about 40% faster that FW 800, but there’s no real evidence that it will catch on or be widely adopted as Firewire already has. There are hundreds of FW devices out there, but only a handful for eSATA.

  7. The fact is FireWire 800 never got the traction that it was supposed to, and Apple had to make a cost/benefit decision based on that. Spend the extra money and space to include a dedicated FW800 chipset on the motherboard, and possibly delay the product’s launch date to satisfy 10% of the market (I’m picking that number out of my head, but it’s probably not too far off, maybe even generous), or let that 10% of the users add an expansion card if they really need FW800.

    Yeah, it would suck if you had FireWire 800 devices, but the reality is Apple had to make a business decision, and it was probably the best one to make given the circumstances.

    FireWire 800 was doomed from the beginning because it wasn’t plug compatible with FW400, which has seen mass adoption. I think I would have rather seen an external SATA port on the MacBook Pro than FireWire 800. That’s more forward thinking if you ask me.

  8. eSATA 2 I think is coming or out already and that technology allows you to bridge another 6 eSATA drivers so it is the future.

    it may not have traction yet, but eSATA and eSATA2 will be the winner IMHO… Firewire 400 is not going away anytime soon though

  9. “Sure, it’s about 40% faster that FW 800, but there’s no real evidence that it will catch on or be widely adopted as Firewire already has. There are hundreds of FW devices out there, but only a handful for eSATA.”[/i}

    MacDragon, eSATA has a far better chance of catching on as the defacto standard for external storage than FW800 because the drive industry is already using SATA interfaces for their drives, something that never happened for FireWire.

    When Apple first developed FireWire, they included internal connectors on their PowerMac motherboards because they expected hard disk manufacturers to develop drives with native FireWire interfaces, which never happened.

    Now SATA is the drive interface standard, and there is an external version of it that is faster than FireWire 800. Pretty much the only thing FW800 is used for is external storage. DV camcorders all still use FW400 primarily, so what sense does it make to keep pushing FireWire 800 when most customers will never use it? The ExpressCard/34 slot is there to provide support for whatever interface type you may need, so people who have FW800 devices aren’t S.O.L.

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