Close to Extinction: Optical Disk Drives on Macs; PCs Soon to Follow?

Posted on October 28, 2013 10:20 AM by Rob Williams

When Apple began offering the latest version of OS X on flash drives back in 2011, it became clear that as far as it was concerned, optical disk drives couldn’t die off fast enough. At that time, I was talking to a friend who was an early MacBook Air adopter, and he couldn’t have been happier that his brand-new notebook lacked an ODD.

Apple’s obviously very focused on aesthetics, and it’s always looking for things to purge in order to build the slimmest, sleekest and most stylish device possible. That’s the reason that only one model still comes with an ODD, and at next refresh, that’s likely to become zero.

When aesthetics are removed from the picture, though, the need for ODDs today is still obviously minimal. For that, we have digital platforms to thank. We can now buy music, movies, games and even books digitally – sans real material, and sans the need for an optical drive.

Apple Mac Pro 2013
Apple’s upcoming Mac Pro lacks an ODD

For me personally, I require an ODD for the occasions when I purchase a new music CD. I insist on lossless rips, and because no music service out there supports that (yet…), I’m forced to keep an ODD at the ready. If not for music ripping, I’d have been ODD-less long ago. Even in recent months, I’ve ripped all of my old PC games and backup discs to my PC to store on my NAS, allowing me to reduce my disc collection to almost nothing – audio CDs are all that’s left.

Sometimes, I feel a little nostalgic about old tech dying, but this is one occasion where I’m not too bothered. Of course, I still hold my music collection dear to my heart, and I couldn’t imagine tossing out my Blu-ray collection, but apart from that, I’m totally fine with buying everything digitally – or in some cases, on a thumb drive. Gotta make use of these 14 USB ports somehow, right?

What do you guys think? Should PCs still come with ODDs for the foreseeable future, or is it time to get rid of them for good? For that matter, do you still heavily rely on discs?

  • zacharyt1122

    Everyone should have seen this coming sooner or later. I’ll actually miss physical media but it can get bulky. I’ve been really resistant to embrace digital only. I’ve even gone so far as to import games so as to have a physical copy. Have you ever seen a physical copy of Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon? I’ve got one. I still love digital distribution though, I buy all my indie games on Steam or Humble Bundle. I just like to keep my major games with the box art for display.

    • Rob Williams

      I can understand the desire to keep games for their box art. I just have a box for Auto Assault (an old failed MMO from NCsoft) and an other box for Asheron’s Call (another MMO)… that sums up all of my game boxes. Though I might have No One Lives Forever as well… I forget if I chucked it or not. I just tend to hate things hogging space, but music is my weakness…

      • zacharyt1122

        I have an embarassingly large amount of box art. Even a few from the days when PC games came in absurdly huge boxes, but most are a little worse for the wear. I’ve acquired so many PC games that I had to put the discs in a seperate case from my boxes to keep track of them. Its kind of sad that PC gamers don’t get much in the way of collectable games anymore. The Witcher 2 and Elder Scrolls games had some really nice collectable options, but PC gamers miss out on cool stuff like the new Batman game’s collectable package.

        • Rob Williams

          No joke. I remember when Defiance came out, the consoles had a great collector’s edition. On the PC, the collector’s edition cost the exact same, but came with none of the real product that came with the console versions =|

  • Friday Wedding Photography

    As a video producer, the only “real” need for optical disks I see are for my wedding videos. Weddings hire a wedding videographer to create this amazing video and then they give a copy to their parents – who often (not always) would prefer putting a DVD or blu-ray (less often than you’d think) into a player and just pressing play on their tv.

    If I could switch to just doing a USB drive (custom, fancy, and in a little box with tissue and personalized with their name and all…) it would sure save me a lot of time!

    For backing up files, BR’s are great as they are still cheap per tb. If they come out with a way to get the super high density 200+gb per disc, then I could see them staying around for a while for people to archive photos and such. My hesitation with NAS devices is what happens when your house is struck with lightning? I met two people this year and was with one of them when they got the call their house was hit and EVERY piece of electronics that was plugged into the wall was destroyed except their washer and dryer. Computers, TV, lights, fridge, microwave, alarm clock, if it was plugged in (even with their high end surge protecter for their entertainment center) were destroyed. So, DVDs / BRs would still be amazing for that client. They used an online backup service but not enough people do!

    We are a Minneapolis based video production company.

  • Anthony817

    I am trying to move away from all my game dvd’s and even went so far as to contact EA games to allow me to add my old Battlefield games and Crysis 1 to my Origin account so I can forever do away with these useless disc’s. Now I can cut down on the clutter. I just wish my other dvd game keys worked with Steam so I can cut down on them. Only other retail game I have that worked on Steam with redeeming the game key was Unreal Tournament 3.

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