So it’s been a bit of time since Apple introduced it’s new Macbooks, and one of the new connectors is the mini DisplayPort. This replaces the DVI on the MacBook Pro, and the mini-DVI on my trusty MacBook.
This is yet another example in a long string of Apple’s forward-pushing of technology. USB, Firewire, and DVD were all formats or interfaces adopted by Apple slightly before their time. In each case, it was fairly clear that the industry would move in that directions – but Apple was an early adopter.
Sometimes, these transitions have come at a cost: the first Blue & White G3’s and the first iMacs dropped the 3.5” floppy drive – the same floppy that Apple first made popular with the original Mac. Interestingly, though they included the USB port, they couldn’t yet boot from a USB drive! You had to rely on CD or Firewire for booting something other than your hard disk.
More recently, the iPod has dropped support for the Firewire connector. I’ve got an iPod Touch and Shuffle which will charge via Firewire, but cannot sync to the computer save via USB. Firewire has been dying a slow death on the platform; mostly, I believe, because of iPod’s desired compatibility. Outside of DV and Audio hardware, Firewire has never really taken off. Most consumer computers don’t come with the interface in the stock configuration.
That’s not to say it isn’t a better interface – it is. But it’s also more expensive to implement, and the physical connector itself is larger.
DisplayPort has the potential to replace both the display connector, and Firewire. It has two-way communication in the spec, and the maximum theoretical throughput vastly exceeds the requirements for DV and Audio. Whether the new MacBooks and MacBook Pro’s support two-way isn’t clear, yet.
The disappointing fact, to me, is that the early-adopter nature of Apple has once again lead us into a corner where none of the pieces are yet in place. Only the new 24” Cinema Display can connect to the new laptops. In fact, that’s the only computer it can connect to – adapters do not yet exist to get a DVI, VGA, or HDMI output into the new Cinema Display. The Mac Pro’s do not yet have DisplayPort output.
The lack of adapters to get my current MacBook into the next generation monitor is unfortunate. I would love to buy the new display, but I do not (yet) want or need to upgrade my lappy. So while I’m excited about the new technology, I’m also temporarily a casualty of the upgrade war.