November 01, 2012, 11:46 AM — This past summer Apple announced its 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro with a surprising omission: no FireWire port. In its place is Apple's latest peripheral connector, USB 3.0, which provides equivalent performance and is widely used in recent Windows PCs. Then in October, Apple revealed a 13-inch MacBook Pro and new iMacs, all with the same limitation. If two points comprise a line, then the line made by these announcements indicates the end of FireWire on future Macs.
Alas, FireWire is widely used in the Mac world to attach external hard drives, cameras and camcorders, and music processing gear. USB 2.0 is too slow for these purposes; USB 3.0 is too new to have been supported by still useful (and expensive) legacy gear; and the Thunderbolt technology introduced 18 months ago in almost all new Mac models is still too rare and expensive. (At 10Gbps, Thunderbolt it is more than 10 times faster than the fastest 800Mbps FireWire and about seven times as fast as USB 3.0.) So what can the many users with significant investments in FireWire devices do when upgrading to new Macs? There are solutions, but all have drawbacks, which you must carefully weigh before buying.
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There's an adapter for that The seemingly obvious solution to a FireWire ouster is the one Apple released this fall: its $29 Thunderbolt to FireWire Adapter. This one-way adapter (you can't use it to convert a Mac FireWire interface to Thunderbolt) supports a FireWire 800 attachment; you can then use a FireWire 800-to-FireWire 400 conversion cable to attach FireWire 400 devices.