Apple MacBook’s lack of FireWire shouldn’t be considered a deal-breaker

“The absence of FireWire ports is certainly an inconvenience for some users. But it shouldn’t be considered a deal-breaker for most of us, anyway,” Peter Cohen writes for Macworld.

“FireWire has long been the preferred interface for some Mac users who want to hook up an external hard disk drive. It also caught on with camcorder makers, and that’s really why most people are upset. A lot of standard-definition (SD) video cameras have relied on FireWire for the past few years… FireWire also comes in handy if you’re transferring large amounts of data between machines,” Cohen writes. “A special operating mode called Target Disk Mode (TDM) lets you reboot your laptop (or other FireWire-equipped Mac) to appear to the host machine as a storage device.”

“Setting up a new computer? FireWire TDM is good for that, too. Apple’s Migration Assistant makes it a lead pipe cinch to transfer your user account information, data and applications to a computer connected using TDM,” Cohen writes. “But Migration Assistant also works computer-to-computer if you have an Ethernet cable, which is more readily available and cheaper than a FireWire cable. And new MacBooks—as well as most Macs that have been shipping for the past several years—have Gigabit Ethernet ports on them.”

“Connecting a camcorder is, admittedly, a bit trickier. And this is certainly a sticking point for the many Mac users who want to edit their own video [but] it may be an opportunity for you to upgrade your camcorder,” Cohen suggests.

Cohen writes, “FireWire’s absence is certainly disappointing and will surely be felt for a while by Mac users who had invested in peripherals that use the interface, but I suspect most people will make the transition, and will ultimately find that they’re not missing much by making the switch.”

Much more in the full article here.


  1. @ QuadCore

    Boy I’m sure getting sick of you video camera whiners.

    If your camera costs $5,000 then paying an extra $700 to get the Pro laptop with the FireWire port seems like a no-brainer.

    Seems to me that most of the complaints are coming from folks that call themselves “video professionals” on the one hand, while claiming that they use cheap gear like the old MacBook on the other. It can’t be both ways.

  2. Absolute terrible decision on Apple’s part.

    If they wanted to phase out firewire, they should have at least made a transition or a way that users could add firewire via a card slot or something..

    As it is many users are stranded, with either and audio interface (Apogee Duet,) a firewire only video and or/external drives that are all virtually useless with a new MacBook..

    An Apple wants us to spend $2000 on a MBP just so we can transfer a home movie for iMovie?

    F*** Off Apple, you blew it big time..

  3. “…opportunity for you to upgrade your camcorder,” Cohen suggests.

    Is this guy high? So buying a new macbook now presents us with the following OPPORTUNITIES:

    – an OPPORTUNITY to buy new peripherals when our old ones are great at what they do.

    – an OPPORTUNITY to buy a $30 adapter to connect to our existing Apple (or any other) display.

    – an OPPORTUNITY to turn getting data from a sick macbook from a cinch to a daunting process.

    THE OLD WAY: hold down a key and plug in a cable.

    – unscrew & remove the HD
    – go buy a $30 USB-SATA adapter kit
    – Assuming you live anywhere near a specialty computer shop that carries them…
    – Otherwise, mail-order. Wait 5 days.
    – attach power & data cables to delicate SATA interface.

    If we wanted these kinds of OPPORTUNITIES we’d have bought Vista.

    Meh. I’m recommending AGAINST this new Macbook for my clients specifically on the TDM issue. Ballmer’s “Apple tax” has been made real.

  4. Sometimes, I think the wealthy decision makers at Apple (and certain journalists) are out-of-touch and don’t “get” that “most of us” don’t buy new camcorders every year, or can simply replace multiple FireWire drives, and throw out the old ones.

    This is surprising, because Apple usually makes smart decisions about when to remove a specific technology. This is not good timing, considering consumers currently are less likely to spend money on expensive new camcorders to replace old ones that work perfectly fine.

    I have a nice non-HD prosumer DV camera from a few years ago. I really don’t need “an opportunity for you to upgrade your camcorder,” as Peter Cohen explains. Fortunately, at this time, I don’t need an opportunity to by a new MacBook either.

  5. Waaah – I want a MacBook with firewire and BluRay etc, etc – for $399 and a free iPod to go with it. Throw in a free 10K camcorder too for good measure. I can get all this and more at Dull or HP so they tell me.

  6. The firewire port is only ONE of the problems with the new MacBook. It also lacks:

    – a PS/2 port for my existing keyboard (cost 200$ back then)
    – a parallel port for connecting my printer
    – a serial port for my mouse
    – a built-in modem (and thanks to the lack of the serial port, I cannot connect my existing 33.6k hardware!)
    – a third, fourth, fifth and sixth USB port for my keyboard lamp, my mini-plastic-rocket launcher and media card reader (all of which I keep connected to my DELL at all times)
    – a built-in media card reader for my collection of historic flash card formats

    Outrage! If Apple keeps dropping support for existing, functional, expensive and useful equipment I will keep buying cheap elsewhere!

  7. @ Jeremey

    And I’m getting sick of people that don’t use Firewire weighing in on others that do and saying they are “whining”. If you don’t use it champ, that’s great, but there ARE uses for it where there is not a better solution.

    Music recording interfaces come in both USB 2 and Firewire 400 but USB 2 is well known to not handle multi-track recording as well as Firewire. And while I have a MacBook Pro, I know of other musicians and audio students that a MBP is a bit out of reach. So this is not just a matter of “upgrade” the audio interface like a camcorder. 1. USB doesn’t work as well. 2. I am not aware of ANY Firewire 800 audio interfaces (if I’m wrong, then maybe this will change), so not an option (without an adapter on the new MBP).

    This is not the same situation where Apple ditching the 3.5 floppy drive for CDs was a clear technical jump. USB2 is not faster than Firewire 400 (burst vs. constant throughput), and is in no way a forced jump “forward”. It’s quite the opposite.

  8. Speak for yourself.

    No FireWire is BAD. I’ve never been so pissed at Apple! And I own a MacBook Pro!

    USB is a joke for anything but input devices and low capacity thumb drives.

    FireWire is better in every way for external hard drives, Target Disk Mode, Time Machine backups, etc.

  9. It is like MSFT has an army of human bots crawling these forums spreading as much FUD and nonsense as they possibly can. These pc guys are real clowns. They come here just to show us how dumbed down their windows stuff is – We already know their cheap junk is useless at any price and should be free for that matter.

  10. I won’t miss it since I am using an iMac and I only have one external Firewire device that has also USB 2.0 interface.

    I like the fire wire, but I believe that eventually, apple will kill the fire wire because the new USB 3.0 has a lot of bandwidth and there is no reason to compete.

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