During the meta-liveblog yesterday, I was in full-out Apple fangirl mode. I won't lie; after the MacBook specs and design were revealed, I was already contemplating putting my current BlackBook (that I bought in August '07) on eBay or Craig's List, hoping that the RAM and hard drive upgrades and all the software I would include could net at least $900. Then I would buy a new MacBook.
After the dust settled and the specs were released, a dark cloud quickly dashed my plans: FireWire 400 ports are no longer included in the redesigned MacBook. The old style MacBook (now selling for $999) still includes FireWire 400, but the new beauties are FireWire free. What a bummer! Back in January, we listed lack of FireWire as one of the biggest downsides of the MacBook Air. On our Talkcast earlier this week, we actually discussed the idea of FireWire being withdrawn from the MacBook line. I thought it was plausible on the then-rumored $800 MacBook (a rumor that never materialized, sadly), but I was really, really hoping it wouldn't be removed from the line as a whole.
Whether the reason was based on user-feedback (which I'm sure Apple will claim), or done merely to force a schism between the "consumer" and "pro" lineups (as commenter Kai Cherry suggested), the net result is that a technology Apple has been pushing for nearly 10 years and that many of us have come to rely on, for external devices, target-disk mode and digital video needs, is no longer available in any laptop other than the MacBook Pro (or the older generation white MacBook).
No company has pushed IEEE-1394 (the technical name for FireWire) more than Apple (though Sony is close). The iPod was a FireWire device until its fifth revision in 2004 (USB adapters were available for the third and fourth generation units). Target Disk Mode is arguably one of the most useful Mac diagnostic tools. As long as you have a FireWire hard drive, you can safely migrate, repair or perform component tests on Mac, without damaging the internal drive.