Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Orphan MacBook Air owners

Tuesday, Apple updated the MacBook Air, adding a larger hard drive (or 128gb solid state drive) to the pricey laptop first introduced nine months ago. The computer still has an inadequate 2Gb of RAM and no expansion option.

Interestingly, they have eliminated the special Micro-DVI dongle introduced with the original MacBook Air, and replaced it with the new Mini DisplayPort connector, which will be common across all MacBook products in the latest iteration. There is a logic and sanity to sharing a single connector, and switching from the DVI-based predecessors to the new DisplayPort standard (already used by Dell), that is an updated royalty-free replacement for HDMI, at least on the computer side.

However, I am hard pressed to remember a time that Apple invented a new connector for a single computer and then abandoned it with the next version of that computer. The quirky Macintosh IIfx comes to mind. I am hard pressed to see why they couldn’t have chosen the Mini DisplayPort nine months ago, rather than foisting (and then abandoning) the $30 mini DVI dongles that I now own four of. (Two VGA, two DVI).

PS: Gizmodo speculated that today’s rollout was also part of Steve Job’s plan to prepare for his retirement.


test blog said...

Joel forgot to mention a half-dozen other connectors Apple has abandoned over time... I have a bucket full of video adapter cables I can't use. Most painful... ADC connectors that were common on the Mac G5 as the second video source. Can't find the adapter cables for those anymore.
The problem, Joel, is that some people didn't get the note that things change over time. The expectation that your MacBook Air or the Dell, Toshiba, Lenovo or HP you bought is still the latest, greatest a week or two after you buy it is unrealistic in today's market. But some still hang onto the hope that their new computer isn't "obsoleted" in a few weeks. That shows binary thinking plus false hope.

Joel West said...

Dear Anonymous,

I have many of these connectors. Things change. Stuff happens.

That Apple introduced and cancelled an interface standard in 9 months shows poor planning.

Note that I didn't complain about the HDD going from 80gb or the solid state disk going from 64gb to 128gb. That's the normal form of "obsoleting." Canceling a connector after using it only once is not.