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Need new laptop - No firewire in sight?!?!


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My trusty old HP laptop finally bit the dust after 5 years, but my Mackie 400F is still going strong and I have no interest in buying a new interface at the moment (despite all the hate this thing gets, it's been great for me and drivers worked fine from Win XP to 7!)

 

But I can't find a laptop with a damn 1394 port! All my software is PC so MacBook are out of the question.

Worst case scenario I could use an express card but even those are getting scarce.

I also don't have more than a grand to spend since this is sort of an unexpected expense.

Thankfully my desktop is still fine, but I need a laptop for recording in the field.

 

Anyone knows who still makes a laptop with a 1394/Firewire port?

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You won't find anything new for a grand with firewire. You're going to have to look at used.

I've heard good things about thinkpads with expresscard slots you could put a firewire card into; you'll have to look around.

 

..and just so you know for future reference, Macbooks run windows just fine and they have firewire ports.

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..and just so you know for future reference, Macbooks run windows just fine and they have firewire ports.

 

 

Even Macbooks seem to be going away from Firewire it seems.

Although Futureshop (Canada's Best Buy) has the 3rd gen with Core i5 AND Firewire 800 selling for 999$ right now. But I find that price a bit high considering it's a smallish 320Gb HD, a small 13.3" screen and no dedicated graphic card. The hardware is just not comparable to what you get with a PC for the same price.

 

I'm entertaining the idea of building a mini-ITX box for field recording at the moment, if I can fit both a SSD and a HD in it it'll save the trouble of carrying an external drive around which compensates for having a separate computer and monitor. Plus I hate working on small laptop screens when you have a lot of tracks going on.

And this would be easily repairable and upgradeable, a big plus!

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Even Macbooks seem to be going away from Firewire it seems.

 

We'll see. Hopefully Thunderbolt will take off. Still, it's fairly easy to get a Mac with a firewire port on it. My new (Oct. 2011) MBP has one. Coincidentally, I picked up a new Firewire drive to use on the go with it just the other day. I got a Western Digital My Passport Studio 1TB. So far, so good, although I have not really tried to push it to its limits yet.

 

Although Futureshop (Canada's Best Buy) has the 3rd gen with Core i5 AND Firewire 800 selling for 999$ right now. But I find that price a bit high considering it's a smallish 320Gb HD, a small 13.3" screen and no dedicated graphic card. The hardware is just not comparable to what you get with a PC for the same price.

 

I'd recommend checking out Apple's refurbished models. The prices are almost always significantly lower, yet the computer carries a full warranty, qualifies for the extended Apple Care warranty, etc. I got this 15" 2.2GHz quad core i7 with 4GB of RAM for $1,360 the week the retina display models were announced. By getting "last year's model" and getting a refurbished unit (which I honestly couldn't tell wasn't new), I saved $300-400 easily. I also bought and installed my own 16GB of RAM... it's much cheaper to DIY if you can. The retina display MBP doesn't have user-upgradable RAM. :(

 

I'm entertaining the idea of building a mini-ITX box for field recording at the moment, if I can fit both a SSD and a HD in it it'll save the trouble of carrying an external drive around which compensates for having a separate computer and monitor. Plus I hate working on small laptop screens when you have a lot of tracks going on.

And this would be easily repairable and upgradeable, a big plus!

 

Sounds interesting. Please keep us posted if you follow through on this project! :wave:

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buying a laptop with express card slot can be an option. and there are "lots" of firewire express cards out there. just be sure to get one with a chipset where your interface will work with.

its not only that it have to be a TI chipset.

the manual for my presonus firewire interface has a section where they state to which interfaces and which chip sets they are compatible with. and they tested also some VIA or Intel chipsets which work great. they also list some they do not support. so check your interface manual and maybe the support section of the mackie homepage, maybe contact them via email if you don't find any info

 

i'm pretty sure you can get a good, cheap, working firewire express card for your interface so you are not limited to laptops which have firewire still onboard which are in the upper price segment.

 

one additional note: a firewire express card cannot power a firewire interface through the firewire cable alone, the expresscard slot does offer enough power to do so. so you need an external power supply for your interface. sometimes you can plug in the power supply direct to the expesscard and it will power it then over the firewire cable. but you will need an additional power supply anyhow.

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One other thing that gets over looked also. You can run windows on a Mac. (well any intel based mac). So you can still buy a windows laptop with a firewire port. It's just doesn't have windows installed. ;)

 

Also there are some TB to FW adapters out there. So you can buy a new MacBook without a FW port and use a TB to FW adapter. Just know that TB only provides about 7 watts of power and Firewire can provide more. Not sure exactly how much, but you may need to still use your interface power supply.

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buying a laptop with express card slot can be an option. and there are "lots" of firewire express cards out there. just be sure to get one with a chipset where your interface will work with.

 

 

Oh I can't find a new laptop with expresscard either...

And there's just no way I'm paying Apple prices.

 

I'll wait for Thunderbolt to show up on PCs I guess.

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one additional note: a firewire express card cannot power a firewire interface through the firewire cable alone, the expresscard slot does offer enough power to do so. so you need an external power supply for your interface. sometimes you can plug in the power supply direct to the expesscard and it will power it then over the firewire cable. but you will need an additional power supply anyhow.

 

 

Excellent point about bus powering of the interface t_e_l_e - you can't always be certain the bus will have enough juice to power the interface via the card slot. If that's important to you, I suggest you try before you buy.

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Oh I can't find a new laptop with expresscard either...

And there's just no way I'm paying Apple prices.


I'll wait for Thunderbolt to show up on PCs I guess.

 

 

Have you checked with Dell? I was just looking around on their site and I think they might carry some PC laptops with expresscard slots. Their prices are not all that impressive IMO. i5 systems for about as much as I paid for my quad i7...

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Even Macbooks seem to be going away from Firewire it seems.

 

 

Anything with a Thunderbolt port will run firewire. Apple has finally just put out a Thunderbolt>Firewire800 adapter for $30. Problem solved.

 

...and Thunderbolt has 12x the capacity of Firewire.....

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Oh I can't find a new laptop with expresscard either...

And there's just no way I'm paying Apple prices.


I'll wait for Thunderbolt to show up on PCs I guess.

 

 

IMO that's part of why Apple comps cost more. They do sometimes include features that are hard to find on a PC. I'm not going to argue you can't find a better deal on a Windows based machine. You can. But once you start really matching specs the difference in price "can" get real slim. One glaring difference is the current Mac Pros. Man do they need a refresh. What they are charging for 3-4 year old tech is crazy IMO. Anywho to each their own.

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Yeah, the Mac Pro models haven't been updated for a while now. I have even read rumors that Apple may be dropping them... which would really tick off a lot of Pro Tools HD / HDX users - probably not to mention Avid too... unless they hurry up with a Thunderbolt interface compatible version of HD / HDx. I for one would welcome that with open arms.

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IMO that's part of why Apple comps cost more. They do sometimes include features that are hard to find on a PC. I'm not going to argue you can't find a better deal on a Windows based machine. You can. But once you start really matching specs the difference in price "can" get real slim. One glaring difference is the current Mac Pros. Man do they need a refresh. What they are charging for 3-4 year old tech is crazy IMO. Anywho to each their own.

 

 

ASUS has a G75V with Thunderbolt and really nice specs for 1200$ (Core i7, gobs of RAM and HD space).

 

However, my problem just became irrelevant as my Mackie 400F just died anyway... We were tracking drum and it fell to the ground face first (blame the drummer) and something went wrong in the PSU I guess as phantom doesn't work anymore and there's a ringing in the headphone output even with the volume off and the firewire cable disconnected. It was 6 years old...

 

So now I need a new laptop AND a new interface...

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Oh I can't find a new laptop with expresscard either...

And there's just no way I'm paying Apple prices.


I'll wait for Thunderbolt to show up on PCs I guess.

 

 

whats your budget?

you are right if you are looking at the current acers, asus, fujitsu etc low cost models.

yes they are pretty cheap 500-600$, have a good cpu i5 or i7, enough ram, good enough hdd, dvd/cd burner etc. but they do not have express cards slots, no firewire and miss other opportunities for extensions...

 

if you need firewire or express card slot you have to look in the next higher price segment, 1000-1200$ might be at least what you need to spent...

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if you need firewire or express card slot you have to look in the next higher price segment, 1000-1200$ might be at least what you need to spent...

 

 

Firewire and Expresscard is dead across the board on PCs...

I'm partial to ASUS and so far they are the only one with Thunderbolt available, but can't find confirmation on whether the Apple Thunderbolt-to-Firewire adapter works on it.

 

And since the Onyx 400F died anyway, now I'm debating switching to USB.

On the Firewire side, the SaffirePro40 seems really nice, and of course since I really enjoyed the Onyx preamps I can always go with the Blackbird.

On the USB side, besides the Roland Octa-Capture, seems difficult to find something with 8 quality preamps.

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Do you have a lot of external firewire drives? That would be another important consideration if you do...


Sorry to hear about your interface taking a dive. That sucks.
:(

 

I have older Western Digital "MyBook" HDs which are both USB and FW. Interestingly they perform better on USB too! Perhaps a chipset issue, or just a bad FW implementation.

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I've got a couple of WD MyBooks, and a few clients have brought them in for backups. All have been exclusively USB though. Having multiple interfaces on the drive (SATA, USB, Firewire) is really great from a compatibility and "future accessibility" standpoint.

 

I have not had very good luck recording to / playing back audio from USB drives. It's pretty awful on my PCs, and only slightly better with the Macs. I either use internals on the PC, or external firewire on the MacBook, and reserve the USB drives for backup purposes, which they are well suited for IMO. I recently got a 1TB Western Digital My Passport Studio, which is a bus powered FW800 drive. So far, so good - it's working well with the MacBook Pro and Pro Tools 9.0.6.

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I've got a couple of WD MyBooks, and a few clients have brought them in for backups. All have been exclusively USB though. Having multiple interfaces on the drive (SATA, USB, Firewire) is really great from a compatibility and "future accessibility" standpoint.

 

 

Indeed, this one does have eSATA too. It's really just a desktop 3.5" 7200RPM drive in a plastic enclosure with an interface, so it works really well.

The newer ones are USB 3.0 AND 2.0 apparently.

 

I haven't had any problems tracking with it, maybe it depends on the size of the project. I've never had to record more than 6 tracks at once so far, while playing back 12 max.

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I haven't had any problems tracking with it, maybe it depends on the size of the project. I've never had to record more than 6 tracks at once so far, while playing back 12 max.

 

That could very well be why you're not really having issues and I do... you're not trying to stream as much data. Typically I'm tracking 16 tracks or so when doing basic tracks, and my sessions can typically range from 32 to 48 tracks (and sometimes more), so I'm placing heavier demands on the drive.

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