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Whither the Portable Optical Drive?

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the do-you-stream-or-spin dept.

Media 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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Speak for yourself (5, Informative)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111782)

There are a lot of situations in which people need to use optical drives on laptops. The uses range from gaming to application installs, to backup.

Only having to use your portable with alive cd to 'test wireless compatibility' tells me that you are a sysadmin, or another i.t. professional. chances are high that you rarely do what normal people do with that portable but work. let me break the news about common people to you - people still move data on cds.

Re:Speak for yourself (5, Insightful)

nwoolls (520606) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111828)

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:Speak for yourself (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111856)

Unless you're looking to be locked into vendor DRM, you're stuck with an optical drive for some things. I have a Samsung external USB DVDRW that I plug in from time to time. I don't use it very often, but I do need it sometimes as USB booting is still unreliable at best when done from a thumbdrive.

Plus, I have 3 computers total and only the desktop has a built in optical drive, next time I get a new desktop it won't. By that measure having one driver per several computers isn't unreasonable, I only spent $30 on it and I mostly use it for DVDs.

Cap (2)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111906)

Games these days are being purchased more and more on Steam, Origin, and the likes.

Unless you live somewhere where typical home broadband plans cap your monthly download in the single digit GB range.

Re:Speak for yourself (1, Flamebait)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112106)

Games these days are being purchased more and more on Steam, Origin, and the likes.

Which I refuse to ever do. If it doesn't come DRM-free, it will come from TPB!

Re:Speak for yourself (3, Insightful)

MimeticLie (1866406) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112170)

If you're only buying DRM-free games, you're still probably not using CDs.

Four uses remain (5, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111882)

Gaming in markets with broadband? Steam. Application installs in markets with broadband? Mac App Store, Ubuntu Software Center (which has paid repos now) or whatever Windows has. Moving data from one PC to another? USB flash drives. On-site backup? External hard drives, especially if your data is over the 4.something GB limit for DVD-R or DVD+R media.

But this still leaves several uses for optical discs: 1. operating system installations, 2. application installations in places that can't get DSL, FTTH, or cable Internet, 3. burning music CDs for people who don't already own and use a suitable PMP, or 4. burning DVDs for the large number of people who own a DVD player that happens not to have a USB input and don't already have a home theater PC. I admit most of these can be done on a USB burner kept at home, and that's what I use with my 10" Dell.

Re:Four uses remain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38111922)

Any OS can be installed easily from USB drives. And faster than CD/DVD too.

I ditched my optical drives years ago, and even swapped out the Superdrive in my Macbook for an additional HDD. Recently though, I had to buy an external DVD writer just because a client wanted to have his documentation shipped on DVD.

If the PC is new enough (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111992)

Any OS can be installed easily from USB drives.

As long as the computer is new enough not to have a floppy drive. Older machines, such as my grandma's PC on which I installed Xubuntu today to replace a thoroughly rootkitted Windows XP, tend not to recognize USB boot media.

Re:If the PC is new enough (2)

mikael (484) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112164)

Some laptops such as Sony Vaio PCG_GRT don't have floppy disk drives, nor do they have USB boot capability. The only way of OS update is via DVD or CD.

Re:If the PC is new enough (2, Funny)

ksd1337 (1029386) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112350)

Then all you need to do is burn a bootloader like PLoP to a CD and use it to boot the USB drive.

Re:If the PC is new enough (3, Insightful)

redback (15527) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112404)

Chicken, meet egg.

Re:If the PC is new enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38112184)

Is it necessary to even need USB drives? Couldn't a simple small 4 GByte partition be created on the internal hard disk drive, the ISO file transferred into this partiition, then this partition set to be the boot drive, and the system rebooted?

Re:If the PC is new enough (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112248)

How do you propose to make this partition without already having a working operating system?

Re:If the PC is new enough (2)

ksd1337 (1029386) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112376)

Magic! Or butterflies! [xkcd.com] Take your pick. :-)

Re:If the PC is new enough (1)

froggymana (1896008) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112306)

Any OS can be installed easily from USB drives.

As long as the computer is new enough not to have a floppy drive. Older machines, such as my grandma's PC on which I installed Xubuntu today to replace a thoroughly rootkitted Windows XP, tend not to recognize USB boot media.

Or in my experiences, tend to only have USB 1.1, making CD installs incredibly faster.

Re:Speak for yourself (5, Informative)

amanicdroid (1822516) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111894)

My external DVD burner works brilliantly for the rare occasions that I need it and shaves unnecessary bulk from my daily carry.

I've spoken for myself per request.

Re:Speak for yourself (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111990)

USB, Network, etc. I removed the optical drive in my MacBookPro and it was one of the best things I ever did. I dropped in an SSD HD and I haven't used my DVD-RW once since then as an external drive.

I bought an old laptop from ~2001 for $10 to use as a shairport jukebox. I PXE boot it with NFS. Over a gigabit ethernet network it's plenty fast.

Re:Speak for yourself (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38112066)

A highly generic Slashdot comment for a quite an uninteresting story.
I'm bored.

Re:Speak for yourself (1)

poity (465672) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112098)

True, but how often does one install software from disc while away from home base? The drives are usually a $60 difference, and I find it more useful to have a 2nd battery in the optical bay instead, and get a $15 desktop burner in a $5 USB enclosure.

Re:Speak for yourself (1)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112150)

Really? Which game do you want to install that isn't in {insert online download service here}?

Re:Speak for yourself (1)

Trilkin (2042026) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112308)

Bedlam, Space Bunnies Must Die, Dark Reign...

Re:Speak for yourself (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38112318)

There are plenty of external drive options. You don't need a built in one.

Re:Speak for yourself (1)

kesuki (321456) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112388)

i haven't bought cds in a long time, but i still use them -- when a dvd or blu-ray isn't needed. i think that the idea behind this is to stop end users from wiping their drives or installing OSes thumbdrives are nice but i see more virus activity over that port than optical drives. in a netbook/tablet optical drives aren't needed, but in a real laptop or desktop optical media is a valuable tool, more than just for piracy.

but yes one can use a netbook and online games, streaming tools etc. but eventually the cost of clouds will surpass our resources.

I use an optical drive to install the OS (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38111786)

and that's about it

Re:I use an optical drive to install the OS (4, Informative)

BagOBones (574735) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111830)

I just installed my last os via USB. It was much faster than via optical drive. (speed depends on quality of USB drive)

Re:I use an optical drive to install the OS (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111868)

Assuming it works, the times I've tried that I've found it to be a hit or miss affair. I'd rather do that because I don't want to waste a disc on something I might only use once.

Re:I use an optical drive to install the OS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38112076)

I only have one computer. assuming that I just hosed the OS and have decided it's a lost cause and I am going to start from scratch, how would I install an OS to USB if I don't have a cd drive or a second computer with a working OS? ...that's right, I'd be fucked. Ah, if only I had invested in a few little usb drives holding OSes for when I need them! why did I decide to put all my faith in extremely cheap little plastic discs? Whhhhhhy.......

Re:I use an optical drive to install the OS (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111982)

I take it that your operating system of choice cannot be installed from a thumb drive?

Re:I use an optical drive to install the OS (4, Interesting)

Deorus (811828) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112342)

Mac OS X Lion now installs from the Internet [apple.com] into completely blank hard disks (yes, even if the recovery partition is wiped or the original disk replaced), if necessary. No installation media required.

Well.. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38111832)

How do you get software on a laptop without an optical drive?
Most of that stuff is still sold on cd/dvd...

You filthy pirates are downloading it right... We need more laws!

Re:Well.. (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111884)

If you have a computer you can do what I do and rip the discs to the HDD and then just copy them either over the network or on a thumbdrive to the laptop. At this point even Windows allows you to conveniently mount an ISO without external tools.

But yeah, I'm guessing most folks get around the limitation by piracy.

Re:Well.. (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111932)

GP is just a troll. Besides, even Office can be bought and downloaded nowadays; most people I know at least don't use much software anyway besides that and the browser.

Re:Well.. (2)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112114)

    I do that all the time. When I get a new disk of anything, I make an ISO of it. That way, if it gets scratched, broken, lost, or whatever, I still have the image. Installing from an ISO mounted as a virtual drive is faster too. :)

    At one office, we had to install a piece of software on a dozen machines (licensed for all of them). It was a breeze, using remote desktop to get to all of them, and mounting the ISO from a shared directory. It would have taken someone much longer to go to each desk, put in the CD, install it, and proceed to the next. Without fail, if I had someone do that, they'd be dragged off to fix every little problem the user had encountered with anything else too.

    But don't worry, the guy you were replying to was just a troll. :)

External (4, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111918)

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.

Re:Well.. (3, Informative)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111936)

TFA specifically mentions the Macbook air, on which you can install the OS and tons of apps from the mac app store and it even has a built in recovery partition from which you can always boot if you need to re-install the OS.

Battery bay more use (2)

isorox (205688) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111840)

I have a DVD writer for my laptop, but my laptop as a whole benefits a lot more from the extra battery.

I do keep the writer, and a couple of blank dvds and cds with my in my bag though, along with
* an external hard drive
* empower + ac adapter, with anything-to-anything plug adapter
* 5 port netgear switch
* a few cables
* gaffer tape
* leatherman
* cable ties

And after a particularly problematic experience in Gaza, I've added a tiny USB keyboard to the list. Trouble is, the bags getting a little heavy, and the CD drive is the only thing I don't use on a regular basis.

Re:Battery bay more use (4, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112058)

. . . along with
* an external hard drive
* empower + ac adapter, with anything-to-anything plug adapter
* 5 port netgear switch
* a few cables
* gaffer tape
* leatherman
* cable ties

Hell, with all that stuff, MacGyver could build an atomic powered laser . . .

And after a particularly problematic experience in Gaza, I've added a tiny USB keyboard to the list.

Hmmm . . . I must have missed that episode . . .

Movies (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111842)

Please let me know how you are going to play back movies etc while in an airplane at 30,000 feet.

Re:Movies (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38111866)

Digital Copy FTW.

Re:Movies (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38111872)

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

Re:Movies (5, Interesting)

voidptr (609) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111900)

Handbrake it to MP4 before I leave. And more likely than not, copy it over to a tablet that's easier to hold and watch in cattle class than breaking out a full blown laptop.

Why would I want to waste battery spinning a DVD around?

Re:Movies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38111960)

so where does the source come from ?
Unless you download it from bit torrent

1. Borrow from video store on the cheap Tuesday new releases for 95cents night
2. DVDFab8 to harddrive to remove copy controls
3. DVDShrink the harddrive version to remove all the crap and shrink it
4. Handbrake it to dixv or your preferred format.

Step 2 needs a dvd drive (and yes step1 probably needs a car drive)

Re:Movies (2)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112008)

Step 2 needs a dvd drive

Which need not be inside a laptop's case. It can be on a desktop PC or on a USB port.

Re:Movies (3, Interesting)

brentrad (1013501) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112338)

I really think that Android needs to support external DVD drives and watching DVD movies. Yes I know downloaded videos are the future, but during this transition time when lots of people have both physical DVDs and downloaded videos, it would definitely help ease the transition.

Re:Movies (2)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112012)

You have a DVD drive on your home PC of course. The discussion is about whether they're needed in laptops. And if you only own a laptop, I'm sure you could get some USB DVD drive to use at home.

And FYI, DVDFab can remove the crap, shrink the file size, and output in different formats. There's no real need for steps 3 & 4.

Re:Movies (2)

brentrad (1013501) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112320)

so where does the source come from ? Unless you download it from bit torrent

Newsgroups. Oh wait we're not supposed to talk about those. ;)

Re:Movies (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112196)

Handbrake it to MP4 before I leave. And more likely than not, copy it over to a tablet that's easier to hold and watch in cattle class than breaking out a full blown laptop.

Why would I want to waste battery spinning a DVD around?

Most people don't have the time or inclination to rip DVD's to disk - especially if you simply rent them and drop them in the mail or simply rent locally. Or, if you have a full season, it's a pain to rip them them all vs carrying a cd case. In addition, as laptops get thinner and move to SSD disk space becomes more valuable - I can carry a broader selection with me than I can if I rip it to disk.

Tablets are nice but not really a viable solution for most people because of the price.

I think optical drives are on the way out - but we may see them around for a while especially if Apple decides to build one of the ultra-thin concepts they've patented.

Re:Movies (2)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112380)

Ripping an entire season of some show is not that much of a burden. Although admittedly there aren't really any good "shiny happy" GUI tools for this. It's something that's easily automated once you get past the "metadata" hurde.

Of course this requires having a little Script Fu.

Admittedly, your average Windows or Mac user isn't.

So yeah, the mundane case here will be a bunch of spinny disks and some device capable of dealing with them. All of us geeking out about our highly geeky solutions (even Handbrake qualifies here) isn't terribly relevant to the market at large.

Plus spinny disk media takes up a lot of space. Even compressed, it's perhaps not something you want crufting up your tiny SSD on a MBA with.

Re:Movies (1)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112310)

Which means your desktop needs an optical drive.

Which I totally agree with. The only time I use the optical drive on my desktop is to rip DVDs to something suitable for my home media NAS.

On my laptop? Just realized that I've had the same DVD in the drive for over a month now. A movie that I never got around to finishing. If it was interesting, I would have ripped it to watch on the big screen (via XBMC/openelec).

Re:Movies (1)

brentrad (1013501) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112312)

250 GB USB external HD and an Asus Transformer Android Tablet with the keyboard dock that has full size USB ports on it? Worked pretty awesome for me when I flew to Vegas for a conference last week. And with the mini HDMI port on the tablet and my mini-HDMI to HDMI cable, I was even able to plug it into my hotel HDTV and watch the same videos in my room (as well as streaming my whole home mp3 collection over WiFi using Google Music.)

Of course the fact that I get the vast majority of the videos I watch downloaded from newsgroups and not from DVDs makes this setup that much easier. But I do have a vast library of physical DVD videos, so I wish there was a way to connect an external DVD drive to an Android device and watch DVD movies (Cyanogen please make this happen!) My wife brought the DVD issue up as the only thing stopping her from switching from a Windows laptop to an Android tablet, and I think it is a very valid point if you have many legacy DVDs in your collection. I wouldn't want to have to rip all my DVD movies for travel.

Re:Movies (1)

bubkus_jones (561139) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111930)

Rip to hard drive? Yeah, you need an optical drive to read the disc, but you can use an external setup and leave that at home, or rip it on a desktop and transfer the files to the laptop. Or download them.

Re:Movies (2)

Yaztromo (655250) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112142)

Please let me know how you are going to play back movies etc while in an airplane at 30,000 feet.

I suppose if you want to watch in a manner which drains your battery dead the fastest, you could go that way. Personally, I prefer carrying and watching my movies in a more portable form, such as data files stored on a HDD, my iPad, or flash media.

Yaz

Re:Movies (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112214)

I have pretty good luck finding seats with power outlets.

Copying data files leaves you vulnerable to copyright issues if your laptop is searched by a government agency.

can't escape the media teat? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38112192)

Is your need for media consumption so great you can't go a couple of hours without it?

Good riddance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38111854)

Don't have CD drive in PC for 4 years.
Really don't miss it, you can install everything from USB flash disk or network.
Driver CDs? They are already obsolete by time you bought the thing they come with.
Backups? What is 700MB or 8GB today? Nothing.
USB flash disk or external HDD is much better investment.

X61s (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38111878)

I have a five year old X61s that didn't come with an Optical Drive. I'm sure there are older laptops of a similar size...the almost 10 year old X40 series for example. I don't think it was the Macbook Air that killed the optical drive so much as it has been other technologies that made it irrelevant. Most Linux distributions can be installed via USB, and even Microsoft provides a tool to create a USB-installer for Windows 7. For OpenBSD, I install via PXE.

I also have a 12" Elitebook that came with a built-in optical drive, but it just seems so much heavier to carry around than the X61. That added weight is not worth the maybe two times a year I actually need the optical drive.

I've two optical drives in my MacPro (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38111880)

The last time I used them is when I installed Force Unleashed and before that, I don't know. Probably the time my aunt came and I wanted to give her some recordings.

Optical drives should be external (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

http://www.newegg.com/Store/SubCategory.aspx?SubCategory=420&name=External-CD-DVD-Blu-Ray-Drives [newegg.com]

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.

Re:Optical drives should be external (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38111962)

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.

Another good use for the optical bay, is to put an SSD in. You can buy SSD-to-optical-bay adaptors quite cheaply.

This way, you could have a small and inexpensive SSD for use as a fast boot disk. And the existing huge spinning hard drive for media. Best of both worlds.

If you're careful and put all your important things on the SSD, the hard drive can spin down, giving you more time on the battery.

But whatever's in there, much more useful than an optical drive.

I use an optical drive for.... (2, Insightful)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111898)

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.....

If you can stop by home, you can copy the CD (2)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111970)

Reading documentation manuals that come with hardware (like printers) on CD format

I'm assuming you don't carry a printer around with you (unless it's one of those new Polaroid products or something). Leave a USB disc drive where you leave your printer. Before iTunes Store, iTunes software was specifically for doing exactly this.

Listening to CD's

If you can stop by home, you can copy the CD to your computer with an external drive and music library software that has come with just about every home computer since 2002.

Watching some DVD's

If you can stop by home, you can copy the DVD to an MPEG-2 file on your computer with an external drive and VLC media player.

Occasionally rescue CD's come in handy when a root password is forgotten.

Which are ideal for USB flash drive. Any machine from the past decade that's new enough not to have a floppy drive is probably new enough to boot from USB mass storage as easily as it boots from a hard drive.

Re:I use an optical drive for.... (4, Informative)

Yaztromo (655250) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112262)

1) Reading documentation manuals that come with hardware (like printers) on CD format

Virtually all of which are available online, usually as newer revisions with errata included. Indeed, the CD that ships with the hardware is usually the last place I check for PDF documentation, as there is virtually always more up-to-date documentation online

.

2) Listening to CD's

Are you the one person who doesn't have some sort of portable music player, or who hasn't ripped all their music CDs to a more portable AAC/MP3/FLAC/ALAC format? For playback on a laptop, any time you need to be running off battery playing back a file off your hard drive is going to consume significantly less power than doing the same off spinning physical media.

3) Watching some DVD's

Again, having these files stored on the hard drive is more efficient for a portable device. And there are a number of legal solutions for renting, downloading, and streaming movies available online that doesn't rely on physical media.

4) Occasionally rescue CD's come in handy when a root password is forgotten.

Since the article (and your post) specifically mentions Apple, in their case all modern Apple systems are perfectly capable of booting from USB or Firewire. I do understand that in the PC world booting from removable USB keys can be really hit-or-miss, but in the Apple world this isn't a concern. Booting from USB is faster, and requires less dedicated hardware in your portable system that you wind up having to carry around the other 99.99% of the time when you're not trying to recover from a forgotten root password.

I've already made the decision that I don't need to carry around an optical drive that I use <1% of the time in my next laptop. An external drive or drive sharing across the network to a dedicated system will be more than sufficient in the event I need to move data to or from optical disc.

Yaz

DVD are not important anymore (1)

agathius (2512154) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111938)

DVDs aren't in much use for some time already. from my observations very few people still using it for the purposes different than OS installing. I was absolutely happy to replace DVD by a HDD on my laptop, and I think we can expect OSes to be installed via internet in a couple of years, everything's ready for that.

useless for me (4, Insightful)

amoeba1911 (978485) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111944)

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. :)

Buying software on the Internet (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112030)

If you ever buy a game or an application it comes on an optical media.

That's funny; I didn't get any optical media when I bought a copy of Portal on Steam.

Re:useless for me (1)

agathius (2512154) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112152)

So, maybe one day we will see software that comes on usb drives

Doubt it. DVDs are much cheaper than any flash storage, but internet is even more cheap ;) there's a point in assuming that DVDs are for novices though.

Re:useless for me (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112400)

I used to use DVDs for disposable media storage before USB thumbdrives and hard drives became cheap, plentiful, and large enough to displace them.

DVDs are still tops when it comes to being cheap and disposable.

They beat thumbdrives by at least 20:1.

Re:useless for me (1)

Tyrannosaur (2485772) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112176)

I'm assuming you buy lossy music as well from Apple. I don't wanna live in this world anymore.

Re:useless for me (1, Troll)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112368)

I'm assuming you buy lossy music as well from Apple. I don't wanna live in this world anymore.

Well, you are a dinosaur....

Hello, 2007. (4, Funny)

Mostly Harmless (48610) | more than 2 years ago | (#38111964)

Netbooks and ultraportables don't have optical drives? What's next, cellphones without mechanical number pads? How do people come up with this stuff?

Re:Hello, 2007. (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112034)

They come up with this stuff the exact same way they come up with leaving the 5.25" floppy disk out of your new desktop machine. What on earth would you want it for? If you're one of the two people left on Earth that has a need for one, you can install it yourself.

Re:Hello, 2007. (1)

Mostly Harmless (48610) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112080)

I must have forgotten the /sarcasm tag at the end of my post. The point is, netbooks and ultraportables don't have optical drives pretty much by definition. They don't come with them not because they're not necessary, but because they're netbooks and ultraportables. The author is using old news to support a disjoint claim.

Hello, 1999 or 2000 rather (5, Informative)

siddesu (698447) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112086)

My first "netbook" without an optical drive was a Sony Vaio Picturebook - like this one: http://www.sony.net/SonyInfo/News/Press_Archive/199809/98-085/index.html [sony.net] . I used it happily on the road until about 2003, when I upgraded to a Victor Interlink - like this one: http://www.kemplar.com/jvc_741.php [kemplar.com] .

Both still work, and the Victor with Linux still puts most netbooks to shame.

Re:Hello, 1999 or 2000 rather (1)

JackAxe (689361) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112344)

I recall the Sony. I don't have any mod points -- rarely do -- or I'd mod you up.

I dumped them years ago. Couldn't be happier. (1)

Leslie43 (1592315) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112000)

I got rid of my dvd rom years ago, I almost never used it.

Ubuntu and MS both tell you how to install from a thumbstick and MS Office is even sold on them. In a year I would imagine you will be hard pressed to find a system with a rom drive. I do hook up a usb external on occasion to read or write a disk, but that's rare. Netflix, Hulu and alternatives take care of movies, Steam and similar handle games. USB sticks handle the rest.

I don't take dvd's on a plane, it's cumbersome and the drive eats batteries, copy the files to a folder and use VLC if you must.

DRM built-in to DVD-RW drives (0)

lkcl (517947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112014)

starting in about 2004 i bought, had destroyed and was forced to return, two removable DVD-RW drives. when i say destroyed i mean they were destroyed by their own firmware.

investigation showed that these DVD-RW drives had firmware that, unless a specific undocumented IDE command was not sent stating "this software is not pirated. this software is not pirated. this software is not pirated" the DVD-RW drive would destroy itself. one such drive failed to even *read* DVDs after performing this act of self-mutilation.

a french firm, who had a legitimate data backup system, even got caught out by this, and had to "negotiate" permission to gain access to the undocumented IDE commands.

the solution was laughably simple though. buy a standard desktop 5.25in DVD-RW drive and a portable IDE-to-USB adaptor. all that "security", negotiated by all those companies doing portable DVD-RW drives, and it was completely bypassable by just buying a DVD-RW drive from taiwan, korea or anywhere in the free world.

Re:DRM built-in to DVD-RW drives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38112060)

Can you write in a blog post your proof? Thanks.

Re:DRM built-in to DVD-RW drives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38112212)

unless a specific undocumented IDE command was not sent

How was that a problem? I imagine most DVD writing software would have not been sending undocumented commands.

Re:DRM built-in to DVD-RW drives (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112414)

Some brands of optical drive have been known to do really stupid things. The name LG comes to mind for some reason.

Live USB memory stick Live CD (1)

LoudMusic (199347) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112022)

And your one use of the optical drive was actually a detriment to the function you were attempting to accomplish. It would have been better served on a USB memory stick. Faster speed and the ability to store changes. Not to mention far more capacity, AND less power consumption on your laptop.

Re:Live USB memory stick Live CD (1)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112078)

One possible use is for security as you can burn a live CD and since it's read only it can't be hacked. It's paranoia at it's utmost but very effective.

Re:Live USB memory stick Live CD (0)

Mista2 (1093071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112108)

My main use, converting DVDs I own into .avi files. It still cheaper to buy a movie on DVD and rip it than to buy it through iTunes and be locked into its DRM. That goodness I live in a free country rather than the USA.

Re:Live USB memory stick Live CD (2)

thue (121682) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112220)

If you install grub onto your USB stick, then you can have a whole collection of live CDs, which can be accomplished by copying the iso to the USB stick and adjusting the grub configuration file. See for example http://www.panticz.de/MultiBootUSB [panticz.de]

We need those optical drives (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112082)

How else could we run DRM-d software?

Thinkpad X hasn't had optical drives for decades (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38112088)

(but then again they're targeted at people who work, not gamers)

Floppy drive flashbacks (1)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112090)

Yes I would welcome the death of the CD/DVD drive, like the death of the floppy drive. USB drives do everything they do for just slightly more cash. And the upside is it make laptops lighter. I for one would much rather use that extra space for a 2nd hard drive, so I can use the SSD for Windows/Linux, and the other hard drive for my data.

Hopefully, the same will happen to the desktop soon enough.

Don't need an optical drive even for live Linux (2)

Joshua Fan (1733100) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112102)

Take a Linux CD ISO and extract it to a FAT32 USB drive (7-zip can do that). Delete isolinux.bin and rename isolinux.cfg to syslinux.cfg. Then grab syslinux.exe [kernel.org] and run "syslinux.exe -mifa [drive]:"

You can still use the drive for storage.

There are also many tutorials out there for installing Windows 7 from a thumbdrive.

Optical Drives are Mandatory for Most People (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

DVD drives are an accessory not a component (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38112140)

My tower sits on the floor next to my desk, so it's a lot more convenient to access an external dvd recorder under my monitor than an internal case drive.
+My laptops don't have drives, but if I ever need one I can just borrow from the desktop.

SecuROM? (1)

Junta (36770) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112144)

I don't want an optical drive in my laptop. It's added weight and a little noise on reboot. For me this is no problem, I never ever use the optical drive and my question doesn't apply to me since I run linux exclusively anyway, but do SecuROM gimped games work with USB attached optical drives? I could see that as a major inhibitor to a lot of people.

Re:SecuROM? (1)

ksd1337 (1029386) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112362)

but do SecuROM gimped games work with USB attached optical drives? I could see that as a major inhibitor to a lot of people.

I'm sure TPB has some great fixes for that problem. ;-)

unetbootin (1)

khipu (2511498) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112208)

You can just write ISO images to a USB stick with unetbootin. Various distros and operating systems also have other ways of creating bootable USB sticks.

And if you really want to, you can still buy external DVD drives.

Photos (2)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112246)

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

Re:Photos (4, Insightful)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Replace it with a modular battery. (2)

lanner (107308) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112266)

Years ago, back in 2001, I had a nice Dell laptop with a modular DVDRW drive. However, you could hot swap out the optical drive for a second battery pack. I pretty much ran with this second battery pack in all the time, and it was awesome. It added an extra 60% or so of extra battery time to the laptop and I could go a real-world six to eight hours of use before the power ran out.

My new MacBook pro has a DVDRW drive in it and it's just complete wasted space. The battery life for this MacBook Pro is already pretty good, but it would be very awesome if I could put a modular battery in there. FYI, I have one of the first generation of unibody MacBook Pros, so I can very easily get to the battery and hard drive. I loath the fact that they un-did this feature of the MBP in later models. Jerks!

Apple special - really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38112322)

I could be wrong but is this just another tech article spinning a fallacy, many portable laptops ignored optical drives well before Apple. And didn't asus break the mainstream ground with netbooks here? So bored of this lazy reportage!

This again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38112324)

When will people realize that just because they don't do something, or use something, not everybody is the same.

My MacBook pro is barely thicker than the MacBook Air but has a DVD drive (and 8gb of RAM), in my opinion why does anybody need a laptop thinner than 2.41cm? Since I don't need one I think they should stop making them.

Windows repair (1)

Onymous Coward (97719) | more than 2 years ago | (#38112360)

How do I make Windows repair media without an optical drive?

We're going to have to chop other things too (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38112416)

The thickest part on many Ultrabooks is the USB/VGA ports. In order to get the ultimate in thinness you would have to use wireless everything or very thin ports like the Xoom power connector. Also my use of discs is falling thanks to Steam/Streaming. Only my Windows install discs are my "necessary" ones and a cheap USB drive works for my netbook.

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