New Macbooks: Mysterious Vanishing Connectivity
The new Mac notebooks have landed, and no doubt the rush to upgrade will commence. The standout feature is the new graphics chip, which can command up to 512MB of RAM. The downside is that it's shared memory, so your machine must pony up 1/4 of its total memory to run graphics-intensive apps or games. FCP, Aperture, and Photoshop, I'm lookin' at you.
For the money, now you get a Mac laptop that can actually compete in the workplace, handling Photoshop, video and audio tasks with aplomb, and offering excellent gaming performance to boot. Glenda Adams, veteran Mac game programmer and director of development at Aspyr Media, called the 9400M video card in the MacBook "a big win for gamers."
But can you do without a FireWire 400 port - the connection most video cameras still support? (Apple will make adapters available, for a price, apparently.) Apple seems to be saying ‘it's USB for consumers and FireWire for professionals' as the new MacBook Pro still has Firewire 400 and 800 ports. A growing number of consumer hard drives and DV cameras do use USB instead of FireWire, tis true. Soon enough for you, though?
We're still trying to figure out how Apple, among other concerns, plans to resolve the dichotomy between MacBooks that ship with iMovie and the lack of a FireWire port for DV cameras; the few relatively expensive solutions we've found so far (USB to FireWire DV Adapter) are all Windows-only.
This annoys me. My external drive is FW400, so I'd need a FireWire-USB adaptor... oh, wait- there's no such thing! They're two different cards, so this is a bit of an issue for those of you with FW-only drives. This is particularly useful when dynamically working with files, as in video editing, or when using the external drive as the controlling OS. Another issue is Target Disk Mode (Startup whilst holding down the "T" key, used for droubleshooting). I can diagnose my own iBook via my bootable external drive, as can "plastic" MacBook users. This is not the case with the new machines. can Also, if I used an external display, I'd need yet another adaptor for this newfangled DisplayPort thingie.
From when I worked at a computer store, I remember that two supplementary cables carry as much margin as some laptops... I'm just sayin'. Apple is giving with one hand, and taking away with another. I, for one, find that uncool.
Less has changed on the inside. The biggest change is the move from the Intel GM965 chipset and integrated GMA X3100 graphics to an Nvidia chipset and integrated GeForce 9400M graphics, which Apple CEO Steve Jobs says is up to five times as fast as the old Intel graphics. The default memory complement stays at 2GB, but you trade 667MHz DDR2 memory for faster 1066MHz DDR3 memory. You can also upgrade to 4GB of RAM for £100.
In theory, the MacBooks have taken a huge bite out of the MacBook Pro's market, but, in practice, serious editors will still want a separate video card.
Meanwhile, there's still no compelling reason for me to give up my iBook. Eventually I'll want to upgrade to Leopard, and probably to a dual-core Mac, but that day is not today, nor is it tomorrow.
Meanwhile, you know you want to watch... MacBook Autopsy!