Article: My MacBook Pro Doesn’t Have a Parallel Port!

by on June 16, 2009

This last week has brought a lot out of Mac users, at least the group that follows things such as the Macworld Expo and WWDC. Last week, Apple surprised everyone with new-ish MacBook Pros at lower prices. The “new” 13 inch model is essentially an updated version of the prior Unibody MacBook, but with FireWire 800, an SD card slot, and a nonremovable battery. The 15 inch model was similarly updated to include an SD slot and battery, but lost its ExpressCard slot. This has led to numerous complaints from people around the Web.

I know that there are groups of people that would buy just about anything with an Apple logo on it and there are groups of people who would complain about every minor change Apple made to its product line. If the first group was the majority, we’d probably see FireWire disappear from the Mac lineup, rather than ending up on the new 13 inch MacBook Pro. If the second group was the majority, our Macs would still be using things such as the round serial ports, ADB, and SCSI (If you don’t know what these are, go do a search about Apple’s Macs before the iMac).

Thankfully we have both groups to keep legacy (and almost legacy) technology around just a bit longer, but also not hinder development. Personally, I have 3 FireWire hard drives (2 400, 1 800), numerous USB devices, and that’s about it. I do some “pro” level things, such as video editing and graphics work, so I’d like to think that I can speak with enough background that I am looking at things fairly. Therefore, I’m encouraging the other so-called power/professional users to quit whining every time Apple changes the technology.

But they took away my ExpressCard slot!

Check the side of your MacBook Pro. It’s still there. Obviously if you want to buy a new one, it’s a feature that is now unavailable, but that’s part of the reason why the new 15 inch MacBook Pros are a bit cheaper. If you’re doing work with eSATA, you probably should be looking at a Mac Pro for that kind of work and the MacBook Pro for taking it with you. Other than eSATA, the only other things that I’ve seen ExpressCard slots used for are card readers or wireless devices. Apple’s SD card slot is obviously a card reader, although limited to one format. Everything else can be taken care of with USB. If you really need an ExpressCard slot, there’s always the 17 inch MacBook Pro which also dropped in price (think of it as getting a 15 inch MacBook Pro with 2 inches of screen real estate for free).

But Apple is ruining the MacBooks—I can’t get a matte screen except on the 17 inch model!

Personally, I’m a fan of the matte screen—I have an external LCD and part of the decision when I bought my MacBook Pro about 10 months ago was to get the matte option. If it wasn’t available, I probably would have lived with it. Instead people now can get a computer with a glass plate over the display that won’t scratch or have permanent scars from dirt on the keys. Obviously, the glare could be annoying for some work, but just adjust the angle of the screen. The fact that there are some tradeoffs will always happen with new technologies and the public seems to like these new glossy displays. Remember, Apple did offer it as a choice for awhile on the previous MacBook Pros. I’m surprised it’s not a built-to-order option on the 15 inch model, but the demand may not dictate it.

I can’t remove the battery – Apple is just trying to get extra money from me!

Again, it seems like the 17 inch model was a test to see if the public wouldn’t mind longer battery life in trade for a nonremovable battery. The battery can be removed, but like the iPods and iPhones, is recommended to be an Apple-authorized job. Pricing seems to be the same as a replacement battery for the prior models, but if Apple’s claims are correct, you may not have to do it at all, and recycling the old battery is included in the process. Sounds like a good deal to me.

They took away line in!

Yes, the 13 inch model lost the digital optical audio in jack, instead moving analog line in to the audio out jack. This is a bit interesting, but it saves on space and if someone really would be doing audio work as a professional, they most likely would be using some sort of breakout box. I wonder if we’ll see some sort of breakout cable from third-parties to allow you to use line-in and headphones (or speakers) at the same time.

Mini DisplayPort is awful!

Whenever there is an evolution in technology, people are going to complain. Your old adapters may now be useless, but this connector can support a lot more than the DVI (or mini-DVI) could. Besides that, it is much smaller and convenient. Give it time—everyone will be compatible with it soon enough and forgetting about things like VGA and DVI.

Obviously whenever a new model is introduced, people are going to get upset, playing armchair Apple exec, but think about the changes that have happened over the last 10 years. Ports found on old Macs that required special hardware were eradicated, replaced with universal ports, such as USB, FireWire, and VGA. Without Apple forcing people to adopt them, these probably would not have gained as much momentum as fast. Sometimes adapting or removing a port or feature may be able to help shave hundreds of dollars off of a product’s price, which everyone is clamoring for.

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