Optical drives are so last century. Between flash drives and SD cards we've got all the removable, portable storage we could possibly need (at least for right now). At 1/10 the size a 32GB SD card holds about as much data as 8 DvDs. They're way more convenient to store or carry around and, while slightly more expensive per gigabyte, they're substantially more durable and way easier to store. SD cards are so superior to DvDs that it's really only a matter of time before optical drives are a thing of the past.
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Seth Weintraub, of Computerworld, wrote today about his expectations that, within a generation or two, Apple will try to phase out optical drives on their MacBook line. He cited the overall superiority of SD cards as a storage platform, as well as the simple fact that removing optical drives from laptops frees up an enormous amount of space. Without a DvD player, Weintraub points out that the 15” MacBook Pro could become a 15” MacBook Air.
I have to agree with him entirely. Phasing out optical drives not only makes sense from a fiscal standpoint, it's a necessary step in our technological advancement, just like the step away from floppy disks was. You have to cast aside outdated technology when it ceases to be useful. By the way, this is a phrase I fully expect to hear the robot hordes chant at me as they hunt down the last survivors of the Robocalypse.
Remember the days when floppy disks were absolutely ubiquitous? There were so many of them, in use by everyone everywhere, that it seemed farcical to imagine a world without them. But floppies were obsolete, and not even ridiculous things like Jazz drives or Zip disks could save them. We discarded floppies and switched over to USB drives and DvDs, and life has been pretty awesome ever since.
Apple helped to phase out the floppy when it released an iMac that didn't have a floppy drive. They were on the cutting edge of things then, and I have no doubt that things will be the same now. Those of you who have already given up your optical drives by switching over to a netbook know exactly how dispensable they really are.