Apple should add an H.264 chip to the Mac

Marco has a valid point:

To start, Apple could just put cellular-connection detection and responsible-usage logic into iTunes and Software Update. That would be sufficient to launch with new 4G MacBook models at WWDC, then they could have a session on the new API and start enforcing responsible practices in the Mac App Store. Along with maybe working something out with Netflix, they’ll have addressed the biggest accidental bandwidth hogs that most people will face.

And so does John:

I’m not sure why Apple hasn’t offered it as an option yet, but my guess is that it’s because Mac OS X isn’t designed to behave differently while on different types of networks. With cellular networking, for example, you wouldn’t want iTunes to download new episodes of TV episodes or even podcasts in the background — a single episode could eat up your entire monthly bandwidth allotment.

And they are entirely right that this should be an option, but it shouldn’t be the only thing that Macs get to make them faster and better. I understand that being able to tether to my iPad is useful and dandy, and it works, but it’s not ideal yet I do it far more often than I expected. Having my next Mac not need me to lug around my iPad would be great, but it’s not like I don’t have it with me. In fact, in most cases I have my iPad out first, and only pull out the Mac when I absolutely need to. And when I can get actual AT&T LTE, which is rare indeed, the speeds accompanying that tethered connection is decidedly wonderful.

Nevertheless, it would be a great addition. The antennae are going to be a tad tricky, and while I’m sure they have amazing people working on antenna issues, they are focused on the iOS devices that we all expect them to improve by leaps-and-bounds every year. They probably don’t have a ton of free time to chat by the water-cooler, just sayin’. But yes, they should get on this.

But only on adding cellular connection to the Mac is not going to be enough for me. There’s another area that is, quite honestly, far more distressingly slow on even the most modern, fastest-chipped and tricked-out-rammed Mac – rendering video. Holy buckets of molasses is it ever slow. So slow as to be insane.

How slow is that?

On my brand-new, shiny, lovely, fantastic, Retina MacBook Pro, which includes a shitton of ram, and a Core i7 chip, rendering out H.264 video is the absolute worst. In fact, rendering out a basketball game, which was just under 2.5 hours, took nearly 6 hours to do. IT TOOK LONGER THAN REALTIME. And this was using Apple’s preset rendering specs in Compressor.

And yes, there’s the Adobe Mercury engine, which does render faster than the Compressor/Quicktime system combo. Faster, yes, but the quality is nowhere near as good, it tends to be darker and more janky, unless you tweak the settings and then you end up with something that takes just as long to look just as good.

On my iPad, or my iPhone 4S, this task would have been done in less than 40 minutes. Why? Because the iOS devices include hardware to do H.264 encoding and decoding. It’s why they can play videos so well, and why they can edit and export videos so easily. It’s hardware encoding.

Macs are supposed to be professional machines for creative professionals, but if you’re in video, right now you’re left with having to buy a piece of external equipment to get fast renders to something that my phone can handle without losing more than 20% of it’s battery. It’s ultimately the most baffling issue to me.