Why no PowerBook without optical drive?

mcs37

macrumors regular
Original poster
Mar 2, 2003
185
1
Washington, DC
As I look at the excellent design of the PowerBook, and think about how it could be made better some day (not just with a snazzy G5 CPU), I continue to question why Apple does not build a PowerBook that comes without a built-in optical drive. Seriously, folks, I use the optical drive in my PowerBook probably once per 3 months. I used it a lot in the beginning to import music into iTunes and to install some software. Since the initial install I rarely use the regular drive. An optical drive is an expensive unit on a laptop (both in terms of volume, battery consumption, and weight) and I've seen numerous Centrino laptops that weigh around 3 pounds but no optical drive on-board.

Sure, include a USB optical drive with the unit, but there should definitely be some model (in particular, the 12") that comes without a built-in one. I would imagine you could reduce its weight by slight under a pound but also reduce volume of the unit and possibly save some energy.

Maybe we'll get this with a G5 PowerBook some day?
 

jackieonasses

macrumors 6502a
Mar 3, 2004
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the great OKLAHOMA....
mcs37 said:
As I look at the excellent design of the PowerBook, and think about how it could be made better some day (not just with a snazzy G5 CPU), I continue to question why Apple does not build a PowerBook that comes without a built-in optical drive. Seriously, folks, I use the optical drive in my PowerBook probably once per 3 months. I used it a lot in the beginning to import music into iTunes and to install some software. Since the initial install I rarely use the regular drive. An optical drive is an expensive unit on a laptop (both in terms of volume, battery consumption, and weight) and I've seen numerous Centrino laptops that weigh around 3 pounds but no optical drive on-board.

Sure, include a USB optical drive with the unit, but there should definitely be some model (in particular, the 12") that comes without a built-in one. I would imagine you could reduce its weight by slight under a pound but also reduce volume of the unit and possibly save some energy.

Maybe we'll get this with a G5 PowerBook some day?
That would end up pissing me off - due to the fact that i need the optical drive. I think you might be in the minority... Maybe a ultra light laptop.. But not the Pro-line Powerbook

kyle
 

mcs37

macrumors regular
Original poster
Mar 2, 2003
185
1
Washington, DC
jackieonasses said:
That would end up pissing me off - due to the fact that i need the optical drive. I think you might be in the minority... Maybe a ultra light laptop.. But not the Pro-line Powerbook
You'd still have the drive, but you would have to attach it to the computer. So you'd lose none of the functionality, only an arguable convenience. But again I think it would be a great feature on a 12" while the 15" and 17" can keep it.
 

jackieonasses

macrumors 6502a
Mar 3, 2004
929
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the great OKLAHOMA....
mcs37 said:
You'd still have the drive, but you would have to attach it to the computer. So you'd lose none of the functionality, only an arguable convenience. But again I think it would be a great feature on a 12" while the 15" and 17" can keep it.
Then you would have to carry an external drive... negating the lightness factor. I kinda (in a pro book) want to carry everything i need.

Now if they had an iBook mini..... there you go..



kyle
 

wPod

macrumors 68000
Aug 19, 2003
1,654
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Denver, CO
removing the optical drive is just a cheap triky way that bad companies like DULL get their laptops as small as the powerbook!!! one of the main things for apple is to produce products that are simple to use, so removing the optical drive would only ad something you have to lug around and noone (except you) wants to do that. ok, maybe there are a few people, but working in the IT dept at my school, of normal users i deal with everyone HATES when they dont have an external drive. (ive had people ask me where to put in a CD then me tell them they dont have a CD drive!!!)
 

TEG

macrumors 604
Jan 21, 2002
6,570
49
Langley, Washington
mcs37 said:
As I look at the excellent design of the PowerBook, and think about how it could be made better some day (not just with a snazzy G5 CPU), I continue to question why Apple does not build a PowerBook that comes without a built-in optical drive. Seriously, folks, I use the optical drive in my PowerBook probably once per 3 months. I used it a lot in the beginning to import music into iTunes and to install some software. Since the initial install I rarely use the regular drive. An optical drive is an expensive unit on a laptop (both in terms of volume, battery consumption, and weight) and I've seen numerous Centrino laptops that weigh around 3 pounds but no optical drive on-board.

Sure, include a USB optical drive with the unit, but there should definitely be some model (in particular, the 12") that comes without a built-in one. I would imagine you could reduce its weight by slight under a pound but also reduce volume of the unit and possibly save some energy.

Maybe we'll get this with a G5 PowerBook some day?
That would turn the Desktop Replacement\Notebook\Laptop PowerBook in to a Sub-Notebook piece of crap. Sub-notebooks, unless really small, or incredible battery life (>7hrs) are a waste.

TEG
 

revenuee

macrumors 68020
Sep 13, 2003
2,251
1
Personally i'm burning CD's constantly with either back ups or for delivery of my digital images from photo assignments, or Reading CD' that i burned from work when i scanned my negatives so an optical drive on my laptop is crucial

It's a tough call though ... everyone has different work flows, different needs

could work, and ultra light, ultra thin? laptop -- could work, since those small USB storage devices are so popular, and so robust if you need to transfer material quickly, one of those would suffice
 

Monk Edsel

macrumors regular
Apr 7, 2004
193
0
I wouldn't mind an ultra-ultra thin (like, less than .5 inches) and light (less than... mmm... 2.5 pounds?) 'Book. Otherwise I think there's no point if you consider the fact that the 12", being the lightest, yet thickest, PowerBook, is far lighter and thinner than the average PC laptop. Also, I don't think it will really fit in the PowerBook line, if you consider one of the selling points of the PowerBooks is that you get a full-featured computer in a small, thin, lightweight package. On the other hand, I am not sure where you would put such an animal, I don't think the iBook line is correct either. The average consumer isn't interested in the thinnest-lightest-at-the-cost-of-the-optical-drive-laptop, but the traveling professional might be. Sooo yeah, I dunno. Might be a good iSlate or PowerSlate though.
 

bousozoku

Moderator emeritus
Jun 25, 2002
13,951
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Gone but not forgotten.
Sorry, but I can't agree with having an external anything. I've worked with such machines and it's just too easy to lose things and you also have the external mess and things falling off the surface.

The current PowerBooks are perfectly light, thin, and nicely powerful. It's not a bad combination. If the optical drive was gone, I'd rather have another battery in there, like the WallStreet, Lombard, and Pismo lines.
 

rasp

macrumors regular
Jan 13, 2005
114
0
Easthampton, MA
From doing tech support, I can say that even those folks wanting the smallest machine possible, they generally don't like having the optical drive external.

Personally, I use the optical drive *just* enough to actually like having it built in. I did have a compaq that had this dock that clipped onto the bottom of the machine, that contained the optical and floppy drives. When traveling between home and work I'd not bother bringing it along, since it shaved 2 pounds. But there were times when I missed having the drive with me.
 

dotdotdot

macrumors 68020
Jan 23, 2005
2,381
31
That would suck... and why would they do that to the POWERBOOK? iBook is a laptop, powerbook is a desktop replacement for the most part... (generalized, of course)

I hate laptops w/o optical drives... I especially hate ones like Sony that have a dock that has all the USB ports and optical drive there so the laptop is lighter w/ 1 usb, 1 firewire, and nothing else...
 

Phatpat

macrumors 6502a
Jun 15, 2003
903
2
Cambridge, MA
I really like the idea of an ultra-compact laptop. Losing the optical drive is an easy way to do this.

I don't think Apple likes to take the easy way out. If they make such a computer, I doubt they will require you to plug in an external drive to install software, rip music, or whatever else you conventionally do with an optical drive.
 

Bonsaichop

macrumors member
Nov 7, 2004
62
0
Wollongong, Australia
Have you actually looked at the design of the powerbook?, the mainboard is minimal as it is. If you removed the optical drive, there would be a massive void. Your smallest screen which is 12" will still take up all the surface area.

What would you put where the drive was? Nothing? THat'd be a waste. Another drive? Well that defies the purpose now doesnt it? Another battery? Hello... another 400-500 grams.

Its a good idea, and Id love an absoloutley tiny powerbook, but its unrealistic. It can't really be any thinner, the thinest practical hdds are 9mm thick, what about batteries? the PCB is already a single layer. And if you get any thiner, you'll comprimise the sturdiness of the drive.

Its not that it cant be done, but there's no point in doing it.
 

Monk Edsel

macrumors regular
Apr 7, 2004
193
0
Bonsaichop said:
Have you actually looked at the design of the powerbook?, the mainboard is minimal as it is. If you removed the optical drive, there would be a massive void. Your smallest screen which is 12" will still take up all the surface area.

What would you put where the drive was? Nothing? THat'd be a waste. Another drive? Well that defies the purpose now doesnt it? Another battery? Hello... another 400-500 grams.

Its a good idea, and Id love an absoloutley tiny powerbook, but its unrealistic. It can't really be any thinner, the thinest practical hdds are 9mm thick, what about batteries? the PCB is already a single layer. And if you get any thiner, you'll comprimise the sturdiness of the drive.

Its not that it cant be done, but there's no point in doing it.
Well, you could put the hard drive there for starters. You'd still have space left over, so you could make the battery wider, but flatter, as well. From the pictures I am looking at, these are the two main reasons the 12" is as thick as it is.
 

russed

macrumors 68000
Jan 16, 2004
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i think myself and everyone else who has posted here is against this idea! personally i would just say it would become an incovenienve in the end. when you would have to carry the drive with you, you would be cursing due to the inconvenenience of having to carry the wires, prower brick with you etc.
 

Bonsaichop

macrumors member
Nov 7, 2004
62
0
Wollongong, Australia
Monk Edsel said:
Well, you could put the hard drive there for starters. You'd still have space left over, so you could make the battery wider, but flatter, as well. From the pictures I am looking at, these are the two main reasons the 12" is as thick as it is.
No offense, but Why move the hdd? It's already on its own. And, make the battery thinner? They wont be able to contain the amprage to make them last long enough. The thinner the batteries are, the smaller the surface coundit area for the chemical reaction which reduces the capacity of the battery.

Just to give you an idea, here is an xray of a 15" powerbook. Now, i know it isnt no 12" pb but it'll give you some idea of what im talking about. Apple has done an very impressive job at making the system's logic board soo compact, not many manufactuers can do that without multi-layering pcbs.

Idealy I would love to have a powerbook subnotebook, although the specifications would be that it would have a 10" or 10.4" screen with a 1024x768 resolution, around 1" thick with the usual condiments (airport, 60gig drive etc). Probably sacrifice the pcmcia aswell as there's no real use for it (yes i know there is alot of use for them but i mean for general use).

Im actually atm thinking of getting a powerbook 2400 and retrofitting an old snow 2001 ibook into it. or something along those lines. the extra thickness means i could pack in a larger battery maybe 2x internal drives. but then again its more a pipe dream than anything.
 

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Jo-Kun

macrumors 6502a
Dec 20, 2003
682
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Antwerp-Belgium
maybe some users would like the no-optical i/power-book but it will not happen...

in my case I would not mind having one without it since I would use it on location to shoot directly onto my laptop & since I do all the editing at home on the G5 that would not be a problem, come home, boot it as target and connect it trough FireWire to transfer it to the G5... but most people will be annoyed with the loss of an optical drive...

I remember my borther getting a laptop from work, and all the drives like floppy & cdrom were external... wich made it smaller, but he had to carry everyting with him because he needed to load some cd's or so when he was working... so there was no advantage in losing it internal...
 

Bonsaichop

macrumors member
Nov 7, 2004
62
0
Wollongong, Australia
Jo-Kun said:
maybe some users would like the no-optical i/power-book but it will not happen...

in my case I would not mind having one without it since I would use it on location to shoot directly onto my laptop & since I do all the editing at home on the G5 that would not be a problem, come home, boot it as target and connect it trough FireWire to transfer it to the G5... but most people will be annoyed with the loss of an optical drive...

I remember my borther getting a laptop from work, and all the drives like floppy & cdrom were external... wich made it smaller, but he had to carry everyting with him because he needed to load some cd's or so when he was working... so there was no advantage in losing it internal...
Your brother's use of the notebook is almost like an oxymoron. I've used subnotebooks in teh past for things like, when I was going to uni, I could hook into the uni's wireless, have alright battery life, type my notes, and because it was only 1.5kgs i could carry it like it was an extra book in my bag. bring it home, sync it with my notes on my pc and viola!

Subnotebooks are meerley extentions of your home computer, they're not meant for lugging external cd drives, floppy drives etc. If you want those things get an appropriate laptop.

Now, i know ur brother's work paid for his and he probably dindt have a say in it, but this is generally speaking.
 

Jo-Kun

macrumors 6502a
Dec 20, 2003
682
0
Antwerp-Belgium
He had this notebook from his work and indeed they decide ;-)

at the office they had dockingstations and stuff but since he was at that time designer for Toyota he had to go a lot on location to the factory in the UK
 

miloblithe

macrumors 68020
Nov 14, 2003
2,076
28
Washington, DC
I don't understand why people keep arguing that a laptop with an external optical drive makes no sense because you just have to take the optical drive with you. Why on earth do you have to take the optical drive with you? When I go to the library to take notes on books, or to school to take notes in class, or to a coffee schop to work on a paper, why would I need to take the optical drive with me? I never would.

My work gave me a monstrous gateway laptop that must weigh 8 or 9 pounds. It's got several modular bays, and what I sometimes do with that computer is take out the optical drive and the disc drive and leave them behind when I take that computer from my office to the library at my job. I'd leave them out permanently if I had a secure place at work to put them.

Ultralight notebooks definitely have a use. So do very powerful notebooks that are harder to transport (because they are still much easier than desktops to lug around). Apple, unfortunately, does not have the resources to make 4 different lines of laptops (ultralight, consumer, prosumer, portable tank), so they have to make compromises with their line. I think they've done an excellent job of this, making very light yet full-featured laptops.

That said, if the next time I'm ready to buy a laptop, an ultralight, 3 pound, 13" widescreen powerbook with no internal optical drive were available, that'd be my choice in a second.
 

jackieonasses

macrumors 6502a
Mar 3, 2004
929
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the great OKLAHOMA....
miloblithe said:
I don't understand why people keep arguing that a laptop with an external optical drive makes no sense because you just have to take the optical drive with you. Why on earth do you have to take the optical drive with you? When I go to the library to take notes on books, or to school to take notes in class, or to a coffee schop to work on a paper, why would I need to take the optical drive with me? I never would.

My work gave me a monstrous gateway laptop that must weigh 8 or 9 pounds. It's got several modular bays, and what I sometimes do with that computer is take out the optical drive and the disc drive and leave them behind when I take that computer from my office to the library at my job. I'd leave them out permanently if I had a secure place at work to put them.

Ultralight notebooks definitely have a use. So do very powerful notebooks that are harder to transport (because they are still much easier than desktops to lug around). Apple, unfortunately, does not have the resources to make 4 different lines of laptops (ultralight, consumer, prosumer, portable tank), so they have to make compromises with their line. I think they've done an excellent job of this, making very light yet full-featured laptops.

That said, if the next time I'm ready to buy a laptop, an ultralight, 3 pound, 13" widescreen powerbook with no internal optical drive were available, that'd be my choice in a second.
I know why we are arguing about having to carry external drives with us... Because we *need* them for work! Well, i do. Look, ON a plane? dvds.... At the shoot i need archiving and burning.... If i don't need the optical drive - i don't use it. I have never considered my Powerbook (12 inches of course) To heavy or bulky.... The only way i could *ever* consider the non-optical route would be...... A iBook mini... I highly doubt that would happen though...

kyle
 

Abstract

macrumors Penryn
Dec 27, 2002
24,378
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Its not that I'd HAAAATE getting a Powerbook with an external drive, but like Bonsaichop has already mentioned, there's a physical limit as to the thickness of the Powerbooks, or any laptop, since the harddrive isn't made thinner than 0.9" or something like that. Taking out the Combo/Super drive may save some weight, but the 12" isn't heavy anyway. Not at all. I mean, you'd have to be pretty weak to even notice the bit of weight you save by taking out the optical drive.

I walk 25 minutes to school my 12" PB every day.

And as mentioned, what do you do with that space? You could make the battery bigger, I guess, but that just adds weight, which is the reason you took out the optical drive to begin with!!

Complete solutions are better. The only reason other companies offer laptops with external drives is because it makes the physical specs of their systems "seem" competitive.
 

miloblithe

macrumors 68020
Nov 14, 2003
2,076
28
Washington, DC
It is possible to make a thinner laptop.

Powerbook
4.6 lbs.
1.18" H x 10.9" W x 8.6" D

ThinkPad X40
3.09 lbs
1.1 in x 10.6 in x 8.3 in

Portage R100
2.2 lbs
0.8 in x 11.3 in x 9 in

ASUS S5N
2.87 lbs
0.9 in x 10.8 in x 8.8 in
 

cb31

macrumors member
Mar 13, 2005
88
0
I can't quite understand most people on this thread. Someone has suggested Apple make a thinner laptop without optical drive because it would suit him. What is the problem? If you need an internal optical drive then buy a laptop with one, simple.

People have said that they can't be made thinner or lighter so there is no point? My 4 year old Sony Vaio weighs 1.7kg and the thinnest modern ones weigh 1.1kg, nearly half what a 12" powerbook weighs. It can and is being done. When you need to use an optical drive connect one using firewire on the odd occasion.

My point of view is that I am looking to replace my Vaio with a apple laptop. What I want isn't really available. I need as thin/light as possible, screen res above 1024x768, love the illuminated keys, love the idea of Tiger, like the battery life.

I am going to wait until the next incarnation of powerbooks when hopefully there will be something to suit me.
 

Bonsaichop

macrumors member
Nov 7, 2004
62
0
Wollongong, Australia
miloblithe said:
It is possible to make a thinner laptop.

Powerbook
4.6 lbs.
1.18" H x 10.9" W x 8.6" D

ThinkPad X40
3.09 lbs
1.1 in x 10.6 in x 8.3 in

Portage R100
2.2 lbs
0.8 in x 11.3 in x 9 in

ASUS S5N
2.87 lbs
0.9 in x 10.8 in x 8.8 in
I never said it wasnt, its just not practical. Have you ever held a portege r100? it feels like you could literally snap it in 2. Not to mention, it has a trident based video card. 1.1ghz processor. And best of all the price? US$1999. For less than that you can get a 1.5ghz g4 pb with superdrive and a fx5200-2go!

Once again
  • It's not that it cannot be done. Its just not practical.
  • By stripping away the optical drive, you're left with an empty void that cannot be filled because there is nothing to fill it with. You cannot put a larger battery in there it adds weight. You cannot fit a thinner battery because it wont hold the capacity. you cannot put the hdd there because its already on its own with nothing layering above or below it.
  • People who use Sub-Notebooks do not carry extra USB/Firewire/PCMCIA devices, they're intended purpose is to provide the essential needs for those who need a light solution. If you carry a subnotebook with every accessory under the sun it is your own punishment.
  • Having said that, people who are given Sub-Notebooks by their work or whatnot do not have a choice about it. This is not your fault but you should be bitching to your work. Not here.
  • Some people use the optical drive all the time. Some only use it to install the operating system. This is your own problem!!!! There wouldnt be subnotebooks if there wasnt a market for them. At the same time there are optical drives because alot of people like it. AT THE SAME TIME AGAIN there are 17" powerbooks which i personally think are horrendusly stupid, HOWEVER they do sell and Apple STILL SELLS THEM.
  • The THINNEST standard 2.5" laptop HDDS are 9mm thick. This is the thinnest standard laptop/notebook hdds available. YES i know there are 1.8" drives that power the ipods, YES i know there are compact flash drives, but the performance/price/reliability of these drives are poor and they were never intended to be used as laptop hdds.
  • The price to design, engineer, fabric process and deliver another line of sub-notebook powerbooks and have it cheaper than the current 12" powerbook would be unreasonable. The Portege R100 is the same price as a 15" Tibook with Combo drive and more expensive than a 12" powerbook with a superdrive!

And once again, don't get me wrong I would love an Apple Sub-notebook and i would go into euphoric fits and spasms until I owned one myself. Ideally it would have to have a 10.4" 1024x768 display, no more than 1" thick, decent battery life and all the usual apple comodities. But I do not believe that there is such a popular market for one in the Western (by that i mean America+Friends, Europe, Australia-where im from) market. The japanese probably have one already and don't want to tell the world about it.... Im already cursing them for having the powerbook 2400c (which i would kill for..).