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Media Data Storage Portables Portables (Apple) Hardware

Whither the Portable Optical Drive? 440

"The MacBook Air and the Ultrabook come without a piece of hardware that's been a mainstay in laptops for a long time — the optical drive," says a piece at CNET. "Maybe because they really aren't that necessary anymore." I would have thought otherwise a few years ago, but traveling in the meantime with a small netbook was certainly handy. Since that machine died, I think I've used the optical drive in its low-end laptop successor a grand total of once, which was to test its wireless compatibility with a Live CD Linux distro.
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Whither the Portable Optical Drive?

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  • by nwoolls ( 520606 ) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @07:45PM (#38111828) Homepage

    I gotta say, from my own laptop usage, my wife's, sister's, mother's, and others, I think you are the one whose needs aren't in line with common people.

    What applications are you installing you bought on CD? Games these days are being purchased more and more on Steam, Origin, and the likes. Backing up is done more and more to external drives or offsite hosted services.

  • Re:Movies (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 19, 2011 @07:50PM (#38111872)

    from the hard drive, or a USB stick... duh!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 19, 2011 @07:52PM (#38111892)

    Optical drives should be external. They cost $30.

    For that price, you could throw one in your laptop bag, and plug it in when you need it. []

    I don't believe in built-in optical drives; I use them rarely. They're useless dead weight. Much prefer that the space they took, be replaced by more battery... which is always useful. Or leave both off and make the laptop lighter and slimmer.

  • by einhverfr ( 238914 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {srevart.sirhc}> on Saturday November 19, 2011 @07:52PM (#38111898) Homepage Journal

    I use the portable optical drive for:
    1) Reading documentation manuals that come with hardware (like printers) on CD format
    2) Listening to CD's
    3) Watching some DVD's
    4) Occasionally rescue CD's come in handy when a root password is forgotten.

    No I don't think they are going away. My guess is that Apple doesn't think their users care about #1, and they don't like the fact that #2 competes with iTunes.....

  • External (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tepples ( 727027 ) <{tepples} {at} {}> on Saturday November 19, 2011 @07:55PM (#38111918) Homepage Journal
    Anonymous Coward wrote:

    How do you get software on a laptop without an optical drive?

    By going home, pulling out your external USB burner, plugging it into the side of your laptop, installing the software, and unplugging the burner.

  • useless for me (Score:5, Insightful)

    by amoeba1911 ( 978485 ) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @07:59PM (#38111944) Homepage
    Yeah, optical drive is useless for me. I hardly ever use the optical drive on my desktop, let alone on my laptop. Optical drives are useless for professionals who know what they are doing, but for computer novices optical drives are still a necessity. If you ever buy a game or an application it comes on an optical media. You even need to have it in the drive to use the software.

    For now, it is cheaper to ship software on optical media instead of some kind of read-only usb drive. There are huge benefits to that though, first of all, a microsd card takes up much less space and weighs a lot less than a dvd. So, maybe one day we will see software that comes on usb drives instead of dvd. That day will mark the death of the optical media, except perhaps for long term archival, stuff i never want to see again but can't get myself to delete i burn on a dvd and throw the dvd into the basement. :)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 19, 2011 @08:25PM (#38112126)

    Uses for Optical Drives:

    1. Ripping CDs to Itunes, whatever you use (Rhythmbox, Amarok) to manage your MP3s. A lot of people still buy CDs, or have some to rip.
    2. Recording LPs to HD, burning CDs to play in stereos, etc. A lot of folks still have stereos they'd like to use.
    3. Watching Netflix / Redbox DVDs, not everyone wants to watch em on a big screen. Or rip the DVD (takes a long time). Sometimes you just want to watch it and be done.
    4. Guaranteed boot unlike sometimes iffy USB Flash drives.
    5. Archival backup, cheap and easy. Great for weblogs, code base, important docs etc.
    6. Commercial software, upgrades, etc. This is particularly true for naive users who tend to delete stuff they should not (like their download, say). Non technical users know to save the install CD/package, they'll often delete the download.
    7. Burning Library Audiobooks to CDs, and then ripping them via Itunes, RubyRipper, Soundjuicer whatever. This is good for a number of reasons -- a lot of non-technical folks have CD players they like to use to listen to audio books and don't have or want to use MP3 players, burning the CDs also allows you to rip them to MP3s without time-limits etc. You can do this with both the Overdrive Media downloads, and the regular CD audio books (just copy the CDs).

    I love having an optical drive, I consider it mandatory for any serious computer not optimized for light-weight. Netbooks have their place, but for anything serious and regular use I want that optical drive. I use it all the time.

  • by MimeticLie ( 1866406 ) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @08:31PM (#38112170)
    If you're only buying DRM-free games, you're still probably not using CDs.
  • Re:Photos (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gnasher719 ( 869701 ) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @08:55PM (#38112346)

    If you travel with a high resolution camera you are going to want an optical drive to back up you photos.

    A little 500 GB 2.5" USB hard drive is ten times faster, ten times more reliable, and cheaper.

  • by redback ( 15527 ) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @09:05PM (#38112404)

    Chicken, meet egg.

  • USB optical drive (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cryptoluddite ( 658517 ) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @09:39PM (#38112604)

    Just get a USB optical drive. They use two USB ports to legitimately get enough power, although you can usually just use one plug. They're basically just a laptop optical drive in a box and work just fine for almost everything, even installing an OS from scratch usually works. And you don't need to have it inside the computer for the 99% of the time you don't need it.

  • by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @11:11PM (#38113228)

    Agreed. I think it is amazingly arrogant that because some people buy all their stuff online with music stores and DRM that they think they entire world does the same thing. Real people still have CDs we've collected over the years. Retail outlets still sell music on CDs, they still sell software on CDs, and they still sell movies on DVDs. If no one used this stuff then why are they still being sold?

    What is the proper pejorative word that's the opposite of Luddite? I'm tired of those gadget freaks who think the world revolves and them and the latest thing they bought.

  • by znerk ( 1162519 ) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @04:42AM (#38114834)

    I try not to buy things that don't come on disk. Old habits die hard, but I can't keep myself from thinking about wanting to play some game 10 or 20 years from now, and wishing the company that made it hadn't gone under for whatever reason.

    I still play Diablo, Diablo II, StarCraft (and the Broodwars expansion), Quake2, Quake3Arena, and many other "old" games... and I have multiple disks of a couple of them, for retro-gaming LAN parties. I won't buy StarCraft II because I can't be sure it will work next week, next year, or a decade from now - who's to say Blizzard will still be around (and won't have deactivated the activation server)?

    Installation from physical media, without a requirement for an internet connection at any step of the process... it makes me happy to know that I can play these 10 and 15 year old games without worrying about whether the companies that produced them will go under.

    As another example, how will we (legally) install Windows, when Microsoft shuts down the activation server for the unsupported version?
    There's still nothing "wrong" with XP, despite the Vista/Win7/Win8 hype.

    I have a huge collection of DVD/VHS movies, despite having digital versions of almost all of them (I'm still in the process of format-shifting them). Physical media says I never have to contact an "activation server" to "acquire and authenticate" media that I already paid for, even if my home file server dies in a fire, flood, or other major disaster (yes, many of my physical copies of my movies are stored offsite).

    Another (possibly irrelevant) example: I have iso images of Linux operating systems dating all the way back to 1996, "just in case". I also have images of my Windows install media through the years. Yeah, I collect some weird data. I've just gotten into the habit, over the years, of making backups of everything.

    My point is that physical media, unencumbered by DRM, means that the content of that media is accessible in most cases, years or even decades later.

  • by igb ( 28052 ) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @06:51AM (#38115266)

    My point is that physical media, unencumbered by DRM, means that the content of that media is accessible in most cases, years or even decades later.

    I've got some data on a reel-to-reel tape written on a Pr1me, and another from Multics. I've got some data written on QIC-11 on a long-obsolete low-volume Unix box. I've got some punch tape. All of these things might be readable in extreme circumstances (although I think the Multics data would be extremely challenging, what with 9-bit bytes and all) but for practical purposes they're dead.

    On the other hand, I've copied my home directory from system to system for the past twenty-five years. I've got files with Unix time stamps in the mid 1980s (including, usefully, a Kermit'd copy of most of the data from the Multics system).

    Data you want to keep needs to be on current systems, with current backups. Outside a narrow time window, older media isn't readable without extreme measures

"What the scientists have in their briefcases is terrifying." -- Nikita Khrushchev