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Can We Ditch the Optical Drive Yet?

by Travis Harvey | December 14, 2009December 14, 2009 7:25 am PST

At one point, the optical drive was a revolution for the way we stored data.  CDs killed the floppy disk and downloadable has slowly been killing the CD.  DVDs aren’t being rapidly killed off just yet, but the ability to download HD video will eventually finish the job.  It’s inevitably going to happen, so why can’t we have that option today?


Optical drives take up a lot of space in our mobile computers.  The discs themselves are 5 inches in diameter and the hardware needed to read them is even larger.  As more and more of our media becomes accessibly through downloads, our reliance on physical media like CDs and DVDs continues to drop.  Instead of ripping a CD into your music library, you can forgo buying the CD and purchasing the media directly online.  The same applies to movies.  More and more companies are making their software available for download, negating the need to purchase the physical install discs that never get used more than once.  As more companies move towards this approach, the less we’ll need these drives.

Physical media is a stupid inconvenience and the faster we move away from it, the better.  For those that still insist on clinging to the past, buy an external USB optical.  Many who use a portable computer already own a desktop that undoubtedly has an optical drive.  There’s always the option to access the optical drive of another computer to install things remotely onto our portables.

All I’m asking for is the option to choose between living in the past and moving onward a more convenient data format.  I want the option to substitute different hardware, like a larger battery, in place of the optical drive.  And yes, I’m willing to pay for it.  I understand that companies can’t produce ten internal hardware variations of every piece of hardware they make, but it’s not hard to see how much more battery life we’d get from our portables. Am I alone here?  When was the last time you used your optical drive?  Personally, I can’t even remember.