One of the things that’s set netbooks apart from fuller featured computers from day one is that most netbooks don’t have optical disc drives. They take up a lot of space, cost money, and add more breakable moving parts. With more and more software available in downloadable form and the preponderance of cheap USB flash drives and SD cards for transferring data, the only time I need to plug an external disc drive into my netbooks is when I want to try installing an operating system that can’t be booted from a flash drive.
But if you have a slow internet connection, a large collection of applications on CDs or DVDs, or want to be able to watch DVD or Blu-Ray videos, a disc drive can come in handy. Still, we’re starting to see companies putting out laptops that are too large and expensive to be considered netbooks without optical disc drives. Laptop Magazine recently reviewed the $649 Dell Studio 14z, a 14 inch laptop without a built-in disc drive. And the reviewer didn’t miss it at all.
What do you think? Are disc drives something that some computers can do without? Or is it time for optical disc drives to go the way of the floppy?