The Taiwanese rumor-mongers at DigiTimes are reporting that the next-generation MacBook Pro laptops may be thinner than ever. Apple is reportedly able to shave a few milometers off the MacBook case because the company has decided to abandon optical disc drives for its MacBook line.
DigiTimes tends to get its information from the companies that supply Apple and other computer makers with components. Sometimes the information turns out to be correct. Sometimes it doesn’t.
But in this case, it’s not hard to believe.
Apple has been offering thin and light laptops without disc drives for a few years. The MacBook Air is almost ridiculously thin and light, whether you get a model with an 11.6 inch or a 13.3 inch display. The notebooks also feature solid state disks which allows them to boot and resume from sleep very, very quickly.
Meanwhile Windows PC makers have been offering netbooks and other small laptops without CD or DVD drives since 2008.
While netbooks and laptops like the MacBook Air are arguably designed as secondary PCs which might not require all the features found in a full computer, it’s hard to say the same thing about ultrabooks.
Ultrabooks are thin and light laptops with solid state storage, the latest Intel processors, and price tags that tend to hover around the $1000 mark. There’s really not much reason to buy an ultrabook and a heavier laptop, since they’re thin, light, fast, and designed to get pretty decent battery life.
And most ultrabooks don’t have disc drives.
You know what other devices don’t use disc drives? Smartphones, iPads, and Android tablets. I suspect most inexpensive Windows 8 tablets will also lack optical disc drives.
Once upon a time most of the software you bought came on a floppy disk, a CD, or a DVD. Now most software vendors make their apps available for download from the internet.
If you need to transfer files between computers you can do it over a WiFi network, using an online file transfer service, or with a USB flash drive.
I still have a few desktop computers with DVD drives lying around, but the only time I use the drives is when I’m reinstalling Windows or watching a movie on a DVD — two things I do very infrequently.
So I totally wouldn’t be surprised to see Apple drop the disc drive from its next MacBooks. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see more PC makers follow suit. It would reduce costs a bit, allow for slimmer computers, and reduce the number of moving parts that make noise and tend to break.
If you really need a disc drive, you can always pick up a USB DVD or Blu-ray drive.
When was the last time you used a disc drive, and would you be sorry to see them relegated to a small niche of the consumer PC segment?