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Disturbing FireWire Flaw in 17" MacBook Pros

Discussion in 'Apple War Stories' started by Paul, Jul 30, 2006.

  1. Paul

    Paul Guest

    I recently found a rather disturbing flaw in my new 17" MacBook Pro. And from what I have read I am not the only one and it is in "all" 17" versions of the MacBook Pro. The issue is that if you plug in a firebox firewire recording interface into it and do not use the AC power adapter it will light up and receive power, but not enough to recognize the device. Furthermore if you plug the firebox in with the AC adapter hooked up, get it recognized by the MBP, then unplug the AC adapter it works fine. The firewire port is providing inadequate power in the 17" build. The crazy thing about this is it works fine on the 15" MBP's! Therefore there is something wrong/different with the 17" firewire ports. Needless to say this is a real bummer for people who want to do a little mobile recording or use certain external hard drives without AC power.

    Apple says they will not do anything about this unless they get a ton of complaints. The general consensus on some message boards is, the 17" MBP will not bus power some FW interfaces and hard drives, and apple has made some kind of change to the voltage circuit in the 17" version of the MBP.

    I have posted some links to the discussion boards that talk about this, so you can better understand what I am talking about, as well as hear what others with this issue are saying.

    I understand that any new product has growing pains, but a laptop that is geared towards audio, video, and graphics pros should be able to provide cordless power to all firewire external devices.



    (info pertaining to the firewire flaw is at the bottom part of the discussions on this link)
  2. Paul

    Paul Guest

    A quick update on the firewire bus power issue on the 17" MacBook Pros. Recently there have been a couple more cases of this problem showing up on the apple message boards thread. The firewire bus not providing enough power to run a device without the AC adapter is now showing up on other firewire devices. Maybe this will cause apple to have to provide a fix. For they said they would only address this issue if enough people complained. And the # of people having this problem is growing.


  3. Paul

    Paul Guest

    Another Update:

    It seems the problem mentioned above now also effects the new 15" MacBook Pros with the core 2 chip. The people posting about this problem on the discussion about this on apples site is starting to grow rapidly. Maybe they will have to do something about it.

  4. Paul

    Paul Guest

    Well, I maneuvered my way through emails up the ranks of Presonus to the Executive Vice President to get some answers as to if they are going to do anything about the bus power issue with their products effected by it. A redesign or mod was my hope.

    To put it simply what I gathered from his response is: They are very busy with developing new products and the fact that they do not really consider the bus power issue a malfunction, they are not going to use any of their resources "looking backwards" to create a mod or fix.

    So basically thats a dead end with Presonus. Unless Apple can come up with something to fix this, than I guess it may be time to say this is just the way it is going to be with bus power on the MBP's. It's a shame because it is effecting external HD's as well. My guess is that a firmware update can do nothing to fix it, and I doubt they will change the design or offer a retro fit of some sort.

    Did Apple design it this way for a reason, or is it an oversight in engineering?
    Your guess is as good as mine:(


    (one last note the "LaCie Rugged All-Terrain Hard Drives" work under bus power. A Mac User Group reviewer tested one for me. So if your looking, those work under Bus power.)
  5. Gene Steinberg

    Gene Steinberg Forum Super Hero Staff Member

    Mar 5, 2007
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    It would seem that if one company can make it work, other companies could as well. Curious.
  6. Paul

    Paul Guest

    It is a matter of the new power constraints of the build of the firewire ports on the new MacBook Core2 and MacBook Pros. [It has to do with the fact that Apple implemented over-current protection in their new portable Macs]. Devices such as the firebox were designed according to the old specs. Some companies are redesigning their devices while others like Presonus see it as not a real enough of a problem / malfunction so they are not (they find it to be unprofitable it seems to invest in a re-design). As far as newer devices that have been designed recently, most are following the new specs and they work fine. Those that follow apples old specs, (guidelines) do not. Hence some work some don't.

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