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.

MacBook Pro

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?

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26 replies on “When was the last time you used an optical disc drive?”

  1. The last time I used a CD/DVD drive was three years back when I made my last backup on a DVD, since then USB and Dropbox FTW!

  2. Occasionally I still use an optical drive; especially for creating installation disc’s for installing an operating system. Otherwise I use a flash drive to store data. With flash drives coming down in price and increasing in capacity, it just makes more sense to use them. Flash drives come in such a variety of shapes and sizes. 🙂

  3. I think a thinner case means we can kiss the standard 2.5″ hard drive goodbye, too. It’ll be back to Windows for me if that happens.

  4. I have only used an optical drive twice this year. One can download drivers from the manufacturers website.

    There is a device called the IsoStick which tricks (according to their website) the computer into thinking the flash drive is really an optical drive [without having to install drivers – per the website].

  5. Radio Shack has games and productivity software for netbooks on a flash drive. As flash drives come down in price, I think there will be less use of the optical disc.

    I have only used an optical disc a couple of times this year. Even with drivers that come on a cd-rom, one can still download it from the manufacturers web site.

    I read that they were – in some places – putting movies on flash drives. Even with movies on DVD and Blue Ray, one could also download them (using the code from inside the case the movie came in) onto ones computer. Perhaps one could install it on a flash drive.

  6. Had to use one today. I burned a CD-RW with an Ubuntu installer because I had to refurbish a very old laptop that couldn’t boot from USB.
    On newer machines… no need for optical drives anymore.

    1. Good point. Older machines that can’t boot from USB need them. I have a few of those.

  7. Only to rip dvd’s.  Last time I did that was over a year ago.  I use a desktop for that.  I’ve never owned a laptop with an optical drive and have never hooked one up.  I’ve been using linux exclusively on my own machines for 13 years now.

  8. Yesterday, watched 3 rental DVDs. Recordable DVDs are cheaper to save  system opertaing back-up files and data then a USB drive. If I want a paper thin computer, I will by a tablet.

  9. “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.”

    This sounds exactly like me.

    I gave up on using optical media for data backups a long time ago. Too troublesome. Much easier to use hard drives.

    CDs were awesome in the 80s and CD-ROMs were awesome in the 90s. Now both just seem quaint.

  10. I often work on the road (literally as I spend many hours of my work travelling), so I prefer to travel light.  For my DVD/CD needs, I prefer to use a USB optical drive.  However, I may encounter such a need maybe once a month as everything is much more conveniently stored in the cloud or in flash memory (cards or sticks).  

  11. In my MacBook Pro I put an SSD in as the primary drive and replaced the optical drive with a big HDD. Now I have the best of both worlds and nearly 1TB of storage total. I have a USB DVD writer somewhere, but I never take it out. My worry is that Apple will eliminate the 13.3″+15″ Pro models and only sell the Air, and then we’ll be stuck with whatever size SSD Apple gives you, and no room for expansion. 

    At work I still use optical drives to install software, but it would probably be better to use a USB flash drive anyway, I’m just being lazy. Besides watching DVD movies and console games I don’t see any real use for optical drives going forward.

  12. Professionally?  Every day.  The DoD doesn’t allow the use of USB drives, so that’s the only way we can distribute offline courseware or transfer any files outside of a network.  

    Personally?  Fairly often.  Either accessing special content on childrens’ DVDs or other multimedia tasks.  

  13.  use them time and again to distribute special software collections in student courses. external usb drives, even for old floppies. no need for internal drives any more.

  14. Haven’t used my external DVD drive in months. And haven’t owned a laptop with an optical drive for 3 years now.

  15. I’m on my third Thinkpad that doesn’t have an optical drive.  Always have one in the dock though because I do use em from time to time.  Also have a USB portable DVD-RW drive laying around the house.

    So yea, it is far past time for Apple to ‘invent’ that feature.

  16. Cost per gigabyte for blank DVD-Rs is still lower than for magnetic HDDs, so they’re still useful for archiving files.

  17. Bought a CULV laptop (Acer Timelinex) 3 years ago and haven’t needed an optical drive for it, do everything through usb sticks (floppy storage evolution) or usb HDD (DVD storage evolution).
    Not even on my desktop PC, I think the last time I used the drive was to install Office 2007. Installed Windows 7 through a usb stick.

  18. I think a direct answer to the question posted is “about two weeks ago” that I used the optical drive in the MacBook Pro on which this is being typed.

    I have mixed feelings about the idea that the Macbook Pro would go the way of the Air (or the 5 Acer netbooks in the house) and drop the drive. But I do have an external Samsung USB DVD drive I use with the netbooks when I want to either read a disc (say to load software or put one of my CDs into the iTunes library on that machine) or burn one. And my son, who does lots of video editing on his MBP, would likely be more hamstrung by the deletion of a “Superdrive”.

    Profoundly mixed feelings….but then the iMac pioneered the “no floppy drive” computer and we’ve managed to survive that as well…..

  19. I use my DVD player all the time to view rental movies from Redbox and rip $1 used CDs. Haven’t found a cheaper or better online movie site. NetFlix moive selection is very poor. My music was put out on CDs and way cheaper to rip a whole CD than paying per song online. 

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