Two Things You Won’t See At MWSF: FireWire and More USB

by Chris Howard Jan 02, 2009

In a recent piece, I proffered what I thought would be a fair chance of being announced at MacWorld San Francisco next week. Since then I realised that, sadly, there'd be two things we definitely won't see at MWSF: FireWire and more USB. Of course, I'd love to be wrong.

Apple has shown, with recent updated MacBooks, that it is trying to differentiate the consumer and professional lines by removing FireWire from the consumer models.

At MWSF we may see two new updated consumer Macs. Firstly, a new Mac mini seems likely, and secondly, a new iMac is also rumored.

Both these are consumer Macs, although it could be srongly and reasonably argued the iMac is as much a pro-sumer machine as it is a consumer one. However, we thought that about the Mac Book too...

So, if Apple has ignored the many pleas of disenchanted users with FireWire peripherals still, don't expect to see FireWire on any new consumer Macs at MWSF.

Someone recently suggested giving Apple the silent treatment at the keynote over its decision to pull out of MacWorld. I'd recommend the opposite if new Macs are announced without FireWire. I'd recommend booing. If you're passionate about your FireWire, show Phil, Steve, et al that FireWire is still important on consumer and pro-sumer Macs.

Sadly, despite removing the FireWire port on the Mac Book, Apple didn't replace it with an additional USB port. So MacBook users now only have two ports for connecting external peripherals such as printers, hard drives, iPhones, flash drives, digital cameras etc.

I can barely cope with Apple cutting FireWire on consumer Macs but not replacing it with an additional USB port is pure insanity and gross arrogance. Hello, Apple, you should be increasing the number of USB ports on your Macs, and not just by one when you ditch FireWire. Macs have long been short changed in the USB department.

Recently this really hit home with me when I was updating my son's iPod touch. The update failed repeatedly and so did the subsequent restore. Looking up Apple's own help, the advice was to use a USB port on the Mac, not on a hub. Ouch! So, now we need a dedicated USB port on our Macs for Time Machine and our iPhones or iPod touches. Which, on my iMac, leaves one for everything else.

So you add a hub. But that is the antithesis of the Apple ideal of clear, clean and uncluttered - especially if it's a powered hub.

Plus, I have found my iPhone goes a bit flaky sometimes when connected through a hub - not charging properly or disconneccting and reconnecting repeatedly. (I've tried four different USB hubs, both powered and unpowered, and had trouble with peripherals on them all.)

I'm actually thinking of ditching Time Machine simply to free up a USB port on my iMac.

So come next week, when Phil unveils wonderful new Mac minis and/or iMacs, don't expect to see FireWire, and don't expect any additional USB ports, not even as replacements for FireWire. Which is sad and very frustrating.

Finally, I'd be interested in a little pop-poll. How many peripherals do you connect to your Mac? Here's my list:

USB: External hard disk drive (for Time Machine), printer, trackball, portable HDD, card reader, flash drive, Wacom graphics tablet, MIDI cable (for connection to musical intruments), EyeTV.
FireWire: External HDD (for SuperDuper backups), digital video camera, fourth gen iPod.

So, for me, that's 10 for USB (by the way, I have an Apple wireless keyboard,if you're wondering), and three for FireWire (all of which I'll use for years to come)


  • These updates are coming not long before a big update to USB to version 3, which is blindingly fast with (if rumors hold) little overhead slowing data rates. But we can hope for One More Thing…

    I agree on the ports. I have always had 2 7-port USB hubs on my desk. And I’ve gone through about 5 or 6 manufacturers before I found that the best is Dr. Bott hubs. I have iPods, scanner, card readers, hard drives, printers and more and the hubs always link up and recognize when things are attached or fired up.

    USB 3.0 is going to do bad things to Firewire so we’ll see what happens over time. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the very fast FW800 port on my iMac. The extra speed helps Time Machine get its stuff done quick.

    bugsnw had this to say on Jan 03, 2009 Posts: 4
  • The big advantage of Firewire over USB is that Firewire is that it’s better for streaming video. All the new video camcorders have built in hard drives and are now sending video files to the Mac instead of streaming digital video making firewire obsolete for most consumer’s new camcorders.

    Apple has been very successful, in recent years, in part because they are willing to move to the newest and best technologies even when it replaces their own in house standard. An example was the switch to Intel from PPC and the adoption of a standard such as USB.

    Flyboybob had this to say on Jan 03, 2009 Posts: 33
  • USB 2 was supposed to be faster than Firewire 800, and it wasn’t. Progress is one thing, but having to buy all new peripherals for a new iMac is NOT going to make me very happy. 

    By the way, I’m sure there are more than a few professionals out there who prefer an iMac to the footprint and cost of a honking Mac Pro.

    MacSmiley had this to say on Jan 03, 2009 Posts: 9
  • Page 1 of 1 pages
You need log in, or register, in order to comment