By definition, netbooks are small, light and ultraportable. But it’s hard to pack everything that you’d expect from a full sized laptop into a compact case. And one of the first things to go is usually the optical disc drive.
If all you plan to do with your netbook is surf the web, check your email, and maybe enjoy some downloaded music and movies, you might not even notice the missing disc drive. But if you want to install retail software like Microsoft Office or try out different operating systems on your netbook, life is a whole lot simpler with a DVD drive.
So with netbooks selling like hotcakes, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that some companies that make USB optical disc drives are seeing a bump in sales. The Wall Street Journal reports that Samsung’s monthly external disc drive sales have tripled since October. But the article goes on to suggest that the trend is just a tiny upward blip in a declining market. As netbooks creep up in size, we may start to see more models like the Asus Eee PC 1004DN that include optical disc drives. But more importantly, there are a few forces that are likely contributing to the decline in external disc drives (and optical storage media in general). First, flash storage media is getting cheaper and cheaper. And second, there’s been a move away from desktop applications toward web apps that don’t require installation. Third, many of the apps that you do still need to install on your desktop to run are available for download, which means no installation CD is needed.
Do you have an external optical disc drive for your netbook? How often do you use it?