Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Why didn't the MacBook Air ship with USB 3?

I'm halfway to buying a MacBook Air, but I'm sticking with Gordon's rules of acquisition. I'm good with #2-#4, but working on really, really wanting it three separate times.

Thanks to the joy of a nearby Apple Store I've touched the 11". I am infected now. I verified that my 51 yo eyes can read the screen -- that was my main concern. I've also confirmed that it's no bigger than an iPad.

My decision would be easier if the Air had shipped with USB 3. That would more than compensate for the lack of Firewire or ethernet ports.

So why doesn't the lovely 11" come with USB 3? Will there be a USB 3 version out this fall?

This Wikipedia article explains ...
... Intel will not support USB 3.0 until 2011 ... These delays may be due to problems in the CMOS manufacturing process ... .... or a tactic by Intel to boost its upcoming Light Peak interface... Current AMD roadmaps indicate that the new southbridges released in the beginning of 2010 will not support USB 3.0...
This looks ominous. I'd be surprised to see USB 3 in an Apple product before mid-2011. I wouldn't be surprised if they took another path entirely.

Bottom line: USB 3 isn't ready now, isn't likely to be ready for a year, and may yet go the way of Bluetooth (basically dead).

PS. Incidentally, I tested in the Apple store. The MacBook's USB port has enough juice to charge an iPad.


Anonymous said...

And did you test Air Display which allows you to use the Ipad as a second display? I have to drive to get to the Apple store, so I am trying real hard not to go. I think the 11" air would allow me to use MSWord and Adobe Acrobat, unlike the iPad. Now if only Apple made it easy to use it in portrait view? That is one thing I do like about the iPad; its ability to see the whole page-important with digital files.

I am thinking I will return my iLife11 unless Apple gets a fix for the photo deleting but, so I may have to test the 11" MBA.

JGF said...

No, I don't actually have an iPad (bought one for my mother). Cool idea though -- Air Display would be very handy for the Air.

Beware -- if you test the 11" it will haunt your dreams :-).