Apple customers unhappy that the company dropped FireWire from its newest notebooks are venting their frustrations on the company's support forum in several hundred messages.
Within minutes of Apple CEO Steve Jobs wrapping up a launch event in California, users started several threads on the company's support forum blasting the omission of a FireWire port on the new MacBook laptop.
"Apple really screwed up with no FireWire port," said Russ Tolman, who inaugurated a thread that collected more than 200 messages and had been viewed over 5,000 times.
"No MacBook with [FireWire] - no new MacBook for me," added Simon Meyer in another message.
The two new MacBook configurations, which are priced at US$1,299 and US$1,599, include a pair of USB 2.0 ports, as did earlier models, but lack the FireWire 400 port their predecessors boasted.
FireWire is Apple's name for the IEEE 1394 interface and data transfer specification. Ironically, Apple has been one of the biggest boosters of the spec and was one of the primary drivers of the technology when it began development in the late 1980s.
Apple first added FireWire to its computers in early 1999, when Jobs - who had returned three years earlier to the company he co-founded - unveiled the technology at a MacWorld Conference and Expo. "Think of FireWire as USB, but rather than running at 12 megabits-per-second it's running at 400 megabits-per-second," said Jobs then. "And it's already an industry standard."
Many of the users who posted messages this week said that they were photographers, videographers or musicians who relied on FireWire to connect hardware ranging from cameras to drum kits. Others were disappointed that the new MacBooks could not be connected to their current FireWire external hard drives.
Several mentioned that FireWire's disappearance meant that the new MacBooks could not be connected to other Macs using Target Disk Mode (TDM), a procedure that's often used as a last resort to retrieve files from a dead system. TDM is also used by Apple's Migration Assistant, a utility that copies files and settings from one Mac to another.
Although the upper-end MacBook Pro - which Apple also revamped and relaunched Tuesday - includes a FireWire 800 port, users bemoaned the FireWire loss on the more affordable MacBook models.
"Dropping FireWire from the MacBook only serves to force people into buying the MacBook Pro," said a user identified as "miniconvert" yesterday.
"I don't need a backlit keyboard, 15" screen or any of the other small things the Pro model provides. I'm perfectly happy sacrificing a little bit in speed to save a lot of cash. I need FireWire so I can take videos of my kid off my SD camcorder and then upload to YouTube, put on a DVD or what ever I'd like to do."
Apple unveiled its new lineup of laptop Macs earlier this month. They are carved from blocks of aluminum for strength and lower costs, and equipped with powerful graphics chipsets.
The new MacBook, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air designs are intended to build on Apple's fast-growing sales in the notebook market. Executives say Apple has now over 17% of the US retail notebook market and has supplanted Dell as the market leader in the all-important education market, at 39%.
All the new notebooks use a manufacturing technique developed for the original MacBook Air: instead of starting with an aluminum frame and bolting in parts, Apple starts with a 2.5-pound block of aluminum, which is carved out and shaped to receive parts. The result is a very light but extremely strong and rigid body, a design that also uses far fewer parts than previous Apple notebooks.
The new MacBook now has an LED backlight display, a sleek multi-touch glass trackpad,and new graphics based on the Nvidia GeForce 9400M chip, which combines the chipset and graphics processing unit in a single die. Apple says the result is five times faster than conventional integrated graphics designs, delivering 54 gigaflops of performance.
There are two models of MacBook, one with a 13.3-inch display, 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU, the Nvidia chip, and a 160GB hard drive, priced at about US$1,300. For US$300 more, you get the backlit display, a 2.4GHz Intel CPU, and 250GBs of disk.
The two new MacBook Pro models include two Nvidia graphics chipsets: the embedded 9400M, with about five hours of battery life, and the GeForce 9600M, with about 4 hours, as a separate part, for a total of 125 gigaflops of performance.