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The Return of Firewire

February 11, 2009 - Dave Hecei
When Apple introduced new laptops near the end of last year, the MacBook, Apple’s ‘consumer’ model, was upgraded inside and out. It sported a new case made from a solid block of aluminum (this ‘unibody’ case was also used on the updated MacBook Pro). These new MacBooks are great looking, have a better video system, and are a little bit faster. But there was something missing in these new aluminum MacBooks, something that would be missed by anyone doing digital video. The new aluminum MacBooks didn’t have a Firewire port.

For the average user – a student, teacher, music lover, etc. – this missing port is probably no big deal. Most everything is connected via USB these days. If you shoot digital video with a camera that has Firewire, then you have no way of getting your video into iMovie or Final Cut.

Luckily, Apple decided to keep the low-end MacBook in the original white polycarbonate plastic. They have also recently updated the white 2009 MacBook to have the same video system used in the aluminum models. Now all the MacBooks use the GeForce 9400M chip from nVidia. This video chip still uses part of the RAM from the computer, 256MB, but is much faster than the Intel integrated video chip it replaces.

You can now play games like Call of Duty 4, Quake 4, Madden Football 08, and Need for Speed Carbon. These games wouldn’t even install if you have the Intel 950 graphics chip found on the original MacBook. On the new white MacBook, they play reasonably well, speeds in the 30-70fps range, instead of the 5-10fps with the Intel X3100 chip in the previous white MacBook.

This new white MacBook has most of the goodies that the aluminum model does, plus it has one Firewire port. It has a pair of USB 2.0 ports and a mini DVI port. This new white MacBook also ships with more RAM, 2 GB instead of 1 GB. This amount of RAM is more in line with the requirements of Leopard, Mac OS X 10.5.

If you are looking to upgrade you iBook or even one of the original MacBooks but you didn’t want to give up that important Firewire port, the white MacBook is right for you. The new white MacBook has a 2 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, a nice upgrade from a G4 or the even the original Core Duo processor.

The new GeForce 9400M video will be a welcome addition for the average gamer, but that single Firewire port can make the new white MacBook more desirable than the new aluminum models. The white MacBook is priced at $999 and is available from the Apple Store and other Apple Retail outlets.


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