Friday, September 3, 2010

How useful is your CD/DVD drive anymore?

Every computer I've ever owned, except for a few classic Macs I've bought for novelty's sake, has all had an optical drive -- large and space-consuming. These drives are super slow in seek, read, and write speeds, about 5 inches in diameter (in laptops), and solely used for CDs and DVDs that at a maximum hold only 8.5 GB on a DL-DVD. Of course there are Blu-ray drives and discs of higher capacities that allow for HD video, but we haven't yet seen that technology adopted in every computer the way that CDs and DVDs had been. The reason is because the people who really care about Blu-ray either have standalone Blu-Ray players and/or a Playstation 3 for that functionality, and not many people connect their computers into their TVs except for specialized purposes. But the CD and DVD drive is becoming more and more outdated with each passing year, especially in laptops. Just as the floppy drive was eventually stripped from computers starting with the first iMac, optical drives too will see their end.

We've already seen the beginning of the end in optical storage. Small laptops like the MacBook Air and netbooks all do without, because they must in order to make the product work. That is the point: computers like the netbook still work, having lost only marginal functionality while gaining much greater portability and room for other components. We can do just fine without an internal CD drive, especially now with numerous other portable storage options and the advent of internet delivery services for downloadable content, whether it be movies, music, or software. And for that reason, I hardly ever use my Superdrive on my MacBook Pro. Sure, I rip the occasional CD and DVD and install the occasional game, but I can also usually find any content I need off the web. So, while the usefulness of that space-hogging drive diminishes, the desire for that space to be replaced with something else increases. Why not a larger battery? How about an extra hard drive? More input options? Apple has been very public that they don't see much a future in Blu-ray, so I only see it as a matter of time before they finally scrap the SuperDrive, which has been standard and unchanged in their computers for almost five years.

Being a Mac laptop user, I eagerly await the day when Apple takes the standard SuperDrive out of their portable devices and replaces it with something -- anything -- that I might use more than twice a month.

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