Are optical disks becoming obsolete?

MacBytes

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Original poster
Jul 5, 2003
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Category: Opinion/Interviews
Link: Are optical disks becoming obsolete?
Description:: Earlier this month, Mac guru Ted Landau blogged that he doesn’t need an optical drive anymore. That’s an interesting premise, but, unlike Ted, I don’t think I’m ready to take that plunge.

Posted on MacBytes.com
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quantum003

macrumors 6502a
Apr 27, 2009
541
0
Superposition
Yes. He's right but this is no Earth-shattering revelation. I'm certain the exact same thing was said about yesterday's LP's and magnetic storage... it's pretty obvious at this point that the future is purely digital and solid-state. Gee, I've got to be the first person to ever say that. :rolleyes:
 

melchior

macrumors 65816
Nov 17, 2002
1,202
53
i was big into dat and minidisc through the nineties and even then all i wanted was a solid state mp3 player. i got one with the ipod nano a few years later.

nothing would make me buy buy buy a new mbp like dropping the optical drive. :apple:
 

La Porta

macrumors regular
Dec 15, 2006
241
0
Interesting that one of the points that is made is "only using it for one-time transfers to my Mac." Seems to me that around 1994/95 with a Quadra 660AV we had, that was exactly what we used it for. Why would this reasoning make it obsolete? All you do is install programs, or leave the disc in for copyright verification. This has not changed in near 20 years. Sure, new solid-state and internet technologies may eventually do it in, but I can't buy the reasoning that only using it to copy things will do it in. That was it's point from the start.
 

johnnyjibbs

macrumors 68030
Sep 18, 2003
2,958
119
London, UK
Yes, it's been on the way out for a while now but, surely, if you need to use an optical drive just once a year, it's still better to have it than not.

I very rarely use mine in my MBP (probably less than the original author's 'once a month'), but at times it is useful (e.g. I still make iDVDs or install some software from disc) I am so glad I've got it.

That's not to say that a device like the iPad needs one though...
 

iZac

macrumors 68020
Apr 28, 2003
2,009
1,065
Shanghai
When a box of 50 four gig USB sticks is cheaper than a spindle of 50 DVD RWs, i'll officially call optical media dead.
 

baryon

macrumors 68040
Oct 3, 2009
3,387
1,048
Yes, they're getting very obsolete since they're mechanical, the reader requires lots of space and the disk itself is huge compared to the capacity. However, what could CDs, DVDs and BluRay disks be replaced by? What kind of cheap medium would you give to your friend with photos on it? So far there's nothing to replace disks... As a photographer, I often give DVDs to clients after shoots so that they can see the photos when they get home. You could argue that they should bring a USB drive or something, but what if they forget? What if I have a cheap car CD player that only plays MP3 CDs at best, and I didn't want to spend 20 times more money on something that connects to my iPod and requires me to take my car to bits to install the iPod cable, or what if I don't want to take my iPod with me every time I take my car? So basically, they're super useful even if they're very slow and bulky, and there's nothing better at the moment... Hopefully someone will come up with something...

I don't mind software becoming downloadable. I think that as time goes by, we'll be downloading operating systems and software that we would now buy on a disk. However, what I really find important now is burning disks and not worrying about the cost. I can't give a 4GB USB pen drive to a friend, and ask him to give it back to me when he's done copying the files. That wouldn't work. I can't upload them somewhere and ask him to download the files, that takes ages. Maybe people should get used to always having a USB drive with them, but it's not the case, and I'm not going to change people's habits.

I would imagine that in the near future, we will have some kind of cheap memory card thing that can only be written to once, and it would replace burning disks. But I don't know about anything like that at the moment!
 

RedTomato

macrumors 601
Mar 4, 2005
4,014
313
.. London ..
I regularly think about removing the DVD drive from my macbook to save weight. I've never lugged about something to so many different places and used it so little. Only thing stopping me is the 3 year warranty hasn't run out yet.

Today was an exception - I used it to burn two dvds that we needed to send out, but I would prefer to use an external - it would work faster. Apple make a beautiful external for the MBA, and we actually have one here in the office, but shame it won't work (apparently - I never tried it) with my MB.

I was one of the many people who complained when Apple took Firewire off their macbooks, as there was no suitable replacement, but if Apple remove the optical, (and replace it with a voucher for a free external optical) I'll be one of the first to clap.

I still fondly remember some laptops having swappable drive bays - you could use the bay for an optical, or extra battery or extra HD. The parts were custom, and rather expensive so very few people actually bothered to swap out their bay. Am sure Apple could do it cheaper with their larger scale production (never thought I'd say that) but they will never ever allow anything to spoil their pristine unishells.
 

BornAgainMac

macrumors 603
Feb 4, 2004
6,349
3,211
Florida Resident
I can see it become an external device at some point. I would gladly exchange that space for less weight, more USB ports, thinner. Could happen this month for the Macbook Pros.
 

quantum003

macrumors 6502a
Apr 27, 2009
541
0
Superposition
I regularly think about removing the DVD drive from my macbook to save weight. I've never lugged about something to so many different places and used it so little. Only thing stopping me is the 3 year warranty hasn't run out yet.

Today was an exception - I used it to burn two dvds that we needed to send out, but I would prefer to use an external - it would work faster. Apple make a beautiful external for the MBA, and we actually have one here in the office, but shame it won't work (apparently - I never tried it) with my MB.

I was one of the many people who complained when Apple took Firewire off their macbooks, as there was no suitable replacement, but if Apple remove the optical, (and replace it with a voucher for a free external optical) I'll be one of the first to clap.

I still fondly remember some laptops having swappable drive bays - you could use the bay for an optical, or extra battery or extra HD. The parts were custom, and rather expensive so very few people actually bothered to swap out their bay. Am sure Apple could do it cheaper with their larger scale production (never thought I'd say that) but they will never ever allow anything to spoil their pristine unishells.
I found an empty plastic "weight reducing device" in the expansion bay of a Powerbook G3 recently. You remove the battery or optical drive and then pop in the weightless replacement, and it really does make the laptop considerably lighter. I love that Apple refers to a simple empty piece of plastic as a "device"... probably cost $69.99 too.
 

jayducharme

macrumors 68040
Jun 22, 2006
3,340
2,835
The thick of it
Well if Apple would adopt that bag of hurt called BluRay.... :rolleyes:

Optical media itself isn't the problem. It's the storage limit. It blows my mind that two terabytes of storage isn't enough for me now. That would have been unimaginable a few years ago. (This is why cloud computing will eventually dominate.) Optical storage is viable if its density is increased. I don't like leaving everything on my hard drives. I'd rather have it backed up on optical. But currently on a Mac I'm limited to 4.7 gb. Maybe Apple is working on a new high density storage medium. (I think it's called The Cloud.)
 

jknight8907

macrumors 6502a
Jun 14, 2004
799
41
Hudson Valley NY
Once an EMP goes off will a cd or dvd hold onto its information? Will the flash drive be fried?
A CD/DVD would be fine. Flash drive would be toasted. But then, what good is the cd/dvd going to do you? Everything that it could be played in is electronic, and thus toasted as well.
 

eawmp1

macrumors 601
Feb 19, 2008
4,130
5
FL
Vinyl records...
8 Track...
Cassettes...
CD's...

Magnetic media...(tape drives, 5 1/4", 3 1/2", Zip Drives...
Optical media...

People who say optical will not be replaces haven't been alive long enough. Apple is trying to ride out the death of BluRay.
 

RedTomato

macrumors 601
Mar 4, 2005
4,014
313
.. London ..
Once an EMP goes off will a cd or dvd hold onto its information? Will the flash drive be fried?
Ask your friend Steve. How is this relevant to the topic of this discussion?

If you really wanna know the answer to your question, a microwave oven is your friend.
 

quantum003

macrumors 6502a
Apr 27, 2009
541
0
Superposition
Vinyl records...
8 Track...
Cassettes...
CD's...

Magnetic media...(tape drives, 5 1/4", 3 1/2", Zip Drives...
Optical media...

People who say optical will not be replaces haven't been alive long enough. Apple is trying to ride out the death of BluRay.
I'll use any excuse to save something to a Floppy or ZIP disk just for the fun of it... As soon as CD's go out I'll probably start liking them again as well and finding ways to use them because they feel "quaint". :D
 

MisterMe

macrumors G4
Jul 17, 2002
10,650
28
USA
My own personal practice:
  • I am much more likely to download commercial software that to pay shipping and then wait two days to receive it. New point releases of MacOS X is the major title that I continue to receive on optical disc.
  • I currently rely on 8GB USB thumb drives as my sneaker-net medium. These have nearly twice the capacity of most DVD±R/Ws Admittedly, they are more expensive.
When I purchased my MacBook Pro, I went with a hard disk drive. I do not trust solid state drives for mission critical application. However, it would not surprise me at all for my next full-fledged computer to abandon rotating discs. I am currently on my second iPhone--no rotating discs. My iPad 3G is on order--no rotating discs. From where I sit, I do not see a future for rotating disc storage.
 

Archon Gold

macrumors 6502
Jun 7, 2009
331
0
Canada, Ontario
I use my disk drive all the time, mainly the ones on my older macs when I am re imaging them, though I do hope to set up a netboot/netrestore server so I can re images my computers faster without disks.
 

Richard Kimball

macrumors newbie
Mar 23, 2010
22
0
Texas
Yes, they're getting very obsolete since they're mechanical, the reader requires lots of space and the disk itself is huge compared to the capacity. However, what could CDs, DVDs and BluRay disks be replaced by? What kind of cheap medium would you give to your friend with photos on it? So far there's nothing to replace disks... As a photographer, I often give DVDs to clients after shoots so that they can see the photos when they get home. You could argue that they should bring a USB drive or something, but what if they forget? What if I have a cheap car CD player that only plays MP3 CDs at best, and I didn't want to spend 20 times more money on something that connects to my iPod and requires me to take my car to bits to install the iPod cable, or what if I don't want to take my iPod with me every time I take my car? So basically, they're super useful even if they're very slow and bulky, and there's nothing better at the moment... Hopefully someone will come up with something...

I don't mind software becoming downloadable. I think that as time goes by, we'll be downloading operating systems and software that we would now buy on a disk. However, what I really find important now is burning disks and not worrying about the cost. I can't give a 4GB USB pen drive to a friend, and ask him to give it back to me when he's done copying the files. That wouldn't work. I can't upload them somewhere and ask him to download the files, that takes ages. Maybe people should get used to always having a USB drive with them, but it's not the case, and I'm not going to change people's habits.

I would imagine that in the near future, we will have some kind of cheap memory card thing that can only be written to once, and it would replace burning disks. But I don't know about anything like that at the moment!
I use my DVD quite a bit, but I don't use the one in my computer. I mix and rip DVDs for low volume sales, for sports teams, etc. Sometimes two or three, sometimes ten or so. It doesn't get economical to contract out until about thirty or forty.
DVD player/burners, though, tend to be short lived. In the Macs, they're a pain to replace, so I keep one on a USB port and use it. I'd probably do the same with a laptop without a DVD.
If it shaved weight, price and complexity, I'd go for it.
 

RedTomato

macrumors 601
Mar 4, 2005
4,014
313
.. London ..
Optical media itself isn't the problem. It's the storage limit. It blows my mind that two terabytes of storage isn't enough for me now. That would have been unimaginable a few years ago. (This is why cloud computing will eventually dominate.) Optical storage is viable if its density is increased. I don't like leaving everything on my hard drives. I'd rather have it backed up on optical. But currently on a Mac I'm limited to 4.7 gb. Maybe Apple is working on a new high density storage medium. (I think it's called The Cloud.)
Cloud storage is no good for high capacity personal storage. Remember broadband has far lower up-load bandwidth than download. It takes forever to upload 4.7 GB, and as for a 2TB HDD, forget uploading all that. Cloud is mainly good for storing small files, and downloads.

We'll be using HDDs for large personal storage for a while longer. I have to say, I meet very few regular people who actually need 2TB of personal storage. I admin about 10TB+ at work but regular people that I support only need a few GB.

Yes, they're getting very obsolete since they're mechanical, the reader requires lots of space and the disk itself is huge compared to the capacity. However, what could CDs, DVDs and BluRay disks be replaced by? What kind of cheap medium would you give to your friend with photos on it? So far there's nothing to replace disks... As a photographer, I often give DVDs to clients after shoots so that they can see the photos when they get home. You could argue that they should bring a USB drive or something, but what if they forget?
I do much the same thing as you, and I'm happy to use DVDs with an internal drive in a desktop, or with an external drive in a laptop. But the end is clearly here for internal DVD drives in laptops and portables. Millions of netbooks and personal computing devices are now being sold without internal DVD drives.
 

melchior

macrumors 65816
Nov 17, 2002
1,202
53
Cloud storage is no good for high capacity personal storage. Remember broadband has far lower up-load bandwidth than download. It takes forever to upload 4.7 GB, and as for a 2TB HDD, forget uploading all that. Cloud is mainly good for storing small files, and downloads.
this is a limitation artificially enforced by ISPs to reduce costs from residential customers and draw business from business customers. when an ISP is buying bandwidth at a rate of Gb/s up and down on an hourly basis, they should not limit their retail customers based on how much they upload or download or limit their upload capacity. it is nothing less than profiteering.