The hoarders will hate the next MacBook Pros

“When Apple ditched the optical drive on the MacBook Air, maybe they weren’t predicting the future so much as living it,” Chris Maxcer writes for MacNewsWorld.

“What I’ve realized recently, as I was looking for CDs and DVDs to burn — the first, for a music CD, since I somehow broke the auxiliary audio in my pickup, and the second for a DVD slideshow of a wedding that I shot for a family member — I realized that I hadn’t used the optical drive for months and months. In fact, I could not remember when I had last used it,” Maxcer writes. “I truly had an emotional, irrational attachment to the drive.”

Maxcer writes, “Heck, in the laptop world, maybe only the people who really need optical drives are hoarders.”

Read more in the full article here.


  1. Regardless of whether I’m a hoarder or night (my wife would say yes), I do need to burn CD’s and DVD’s. Like when I made 6 audio CD’s for my wife for a high school dance production. Or when I threw some pictures on a DVD for the HS cheer coach (full size DSLR pics ~ 3.4 GB). Sure, I could put it on a USB stick and give to him, but then he needs to get it back to me. My truck doesn’t have auxiliary inputs, so I burn CD’s to listen to. So, burning an inexpensive DVD or CD is still really useful for a lot of us.

    1. Seems to me, you could use the $99 external optical drive. Plug it in as needed, otherwise, stay light with more battery juice. Scratch free media is the bonus.

      Portable computing is perhaps better without arcane stuff from the 80s and 90s. If you feel internal DVD drive is necessary, maybe you’re really looking for an iMac.

      1. $99? I’ve seen them for $49 at OWC.

        @ Brian: You mean you didn’t load all that music onto an iPad? Which you could also use with a cassette adapter in your truck (my old ’70s truck doesn’t have a CD player…). But I do see your points.

      1. He meant “hoarder or not….” It is a phenomenon of the aural disconnect in rapid typing between the brain and fingers, most commonly seen in closer homophones like “your/you’re” and “there/their/they’re.”

        Pray for the kids now growing up with this.

      1. These FM transmitter solutions for iPod to Car audio only work if you have unused FM bands in your area. Otherwise, your (weak) FM transmitter is competing with a broadcast station. In any large city, this is NOT a viable option. I’ve tried. Also, audio quality is poor, but I could live with that if I could actually find an FM band that didn’t get constant interference.

    1. I agree and I believe you have seen the last of the integrated optical drives. With the external connection speeds now days its just not needed.

      Laptops they’re gone for sure but the also on the iMac’s. I can understand a persons needs that’s why they can buy an external one at the Apple store.

    2. If I buy tunes in iTunes, i back them up to a CD-Audio format CD so I can play them in my car, which unfortunately does not have an auxillary input jack for my iPod Classic or iPhone to use. I do have a Belkin TuneBase FM for trips, but it doesn’t work so well in the city where I live because of too many stations.

      I am also using my DVD drive along with Handbrake, to burn my 1000+ DVDs onto a 2-TB Firewire Raid drive, so I can download them onto my iPad for trips or stream them to my Apple TV.

      1. Not that I assume everyone has limitless funds, but I think it is often overlooked how many affordable car stereos out there now that really augment the Mac, iPod, iPhone, iPad experience.

        You can get one that will ether wire into your iDevice, or stream it over Bluetooth. Mine does both, and does a good job of controlling my Apple products. It even will display the video on its screen from them, though it was a slightly more costly head unit.

        I spend a lot of time stuck in horrible traffic though, so for me the cost of upgrading my car stereo was worth it. Still most of these features can be had for under $200.

  2. As much as Apple hates physical media, there’s a large portion of the market that will never move away from it. I prefer having the ability to make physical backups of files. I really wish they’d add blu-ray support to be honest.

    1. “physical media, there’s a large portion of the market that will never move away from it.”

      Those who won’t move away from physical media are likely not Apple product users. We are a breed that thrive on simplicity and new ways of doing things. Keep your Windows machines and legacy technology and leave us to march boldly into the future.

        1. +1 and how!

          OTOH it was only last year that I finally borrowed an old Performa so I could transfer a bunch of files from floppies and Zip disks to a hard drive. The local recycler almost didn’t want to accept several boxes of ancient junk. However, there does come a time when data formats are no longer used and thus the data are no longer readable – ephemeral, really.

        2. I have been using Apple computers since 1985 and I remember the hew and cry that went up when Apple didn’t include 5 1/4″ floppy drives in the Macintosh. I remember when Apple was the first to drop the 3 1/2″ floppy drive and every one screamed blue murder. Then they dropped the SCSI and started using USB and everyone belly ached. Let’s face it, people don’t like change and are reluctant to exercise the little grey cells to learn a better way.

      1. Oh sure, all grandparents with DVD players should just chuck those out the window and buy the latest technology and then take forever to relearn how to use it.

        You ever try to explain stuff to people in their 80s? God help you if they are slightly senile.

        If they know how to use DVDs, then sending them movies of the grandkids on that is the best way “for them”.

        Not to mention, not every one of my friends, coworkers, neighbors are Mac users or have money to just drop on the latest video gadget. But they all have DVD players. Much easier to give a DVD of kids sports highlights. Not quit there on the “hey I’ll email ya a link to the home movie I made” to 20 parents. Not to mention the bandwidth still sucks for many.

        Plus i’m not sure what Apple’s monthly quota download is from iCloud/MobileMe/iDisk. 20 people downloading a 2 GB movie is 40 GB downloaded from my account. I’m sure that might go over the limit. Not sure.

        1. Your grandparents aren’t the target market for the MBP. If you have legacy devices still around with optical drives, Apple gives you a way to share those drives and burn your stuff on them. Most of my relatives are familiar with the web and know how to click on a link to use YouTube where I post my private videos.

          Apple TV is a great way to get your web based video on the TV too. The controls are way easier than a traditional DVD player.

    2. Agreed.

      I rarely use the optical drive myself, and I understand the external drive argument.
      If the pro ditches the optical drive I won’t panic, but I know some will.

      What will happen, is I’ll need to burn a DVD/cd someday… An ill have forgotten the external drive at home cause I never use it. Then some pc nerd will laugh at me… And I’ll have to shoot him. 😉

      1. I’m in the same boat. I’m a content creator, and a lot of times clients want the result on a disk either as a backup or a playable DVD (so they can distribute it to their customers).

        For myself, I don’t use it so much. But it comes in handy to finish jobs.

        Also, I still buy movies on DVD and i will until someone can show me how to re-sell a digital download. And no ReDigi doesn’t count.

      1. If you have to think twice about buying a MBP without an optical drive then I suggest that you are not the intended market for it. You can still find a lot of netbooks with optical drives and even Win 7. That would likely be a great match for your needs.

        1. Will you please stop insulting people who just happen to have different needs than you. Just because some of us still have the need for what you consider a “windows only” device doesn’t justify your responses. There are still Mac devices that can be used for their purposes.

        2. I’m studying cybersecurity and digital forensics. I needed a flexible, durable computer capable of running OS X, Windows and/or Unix/Linux to accommodate different scenarios and portable so that I can take it with me to labs. I also needed a CD/DVD drive because most forensics tools are still on discs and I wanted to transport the least about of peripherals I could, as I already need to carry an outboard drive for specific applications. I got a 13″ MBP. This was inspired by the professor who has a 17″ MBP. Perfect match.
          I suggest, sir, that you are a tool and a troll.

        3. No Windows for me! I have been thinking about strategies I need to cope without an optical drive.
          I wonder how you would know what my needs are?

  3. I’m really hoping the new MacBook Pros have no optical drive but still have space for a second SSD drive, vital for many plus added battery life. Not to mention a bunch of other improvements…

  4. This article hit the nail on the head. Storage space is king. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – no matter what the advantages are in general of an SSD drive over today’s hard drives, if you simply can’t get as many gigabytes worth of internal storage, then it’s a downgrade. Simple as that. I once tried to use iMovie with a file saved on an external hard drive, and the thing froze constantly. I moved the same file back onto my internal hard drive, and it worked just fine. When I got my latest MBP, I went ahead and sprang for a 750GB hard drive. With the SSD, the most I could get is 512, and I’d have to pay $1100 more for the privilege. I’m willing to live with an external optical drive (even though my wife and I watch DVDs exclusively on my MBP now – we don’t even use our TV for that), but I must have internal storage space, and I’m sure many Mac users would be upset if we were forced to accept fewer gigabytes of storage for the sake of having SSDs.

    1. Were you working with that iMovie file on a USB drive? I work with movie files all the time on external drives via FW800 with no issues.

      SSD is the future though for internal storage. The capacities will increase, and the prices will come down again. Remember how expensive HDD storage was at first?

      Also, if you need more storage, you should soon (HOPEFULLY!) have more Thunderbolt options available.

      1. Id cringe if MDN went back and reported all my same complaints about the original iMac ditching floppy drives for CD only. It’s all the same arguments back then that I am hearing now. How many people absolutely rely on the ability to give someone a small file and that it felt like a right was being taken away. I learned my lesson last time, and so this time really stopped to think about how often I use my optical drive…. And I probably use my external hard drive, scanner, DSLR, and NAS drives 1000 percent more, yet I just attatch those as needed, and do not carry them around. Why should the optical drive be any different? The only answer I can think of is “because that’s how it has always been done”. If an internal optical drive had never been done, the question would be “should we make the laptop bigger and bulkier so that we can add an optical drive that is used only a small percentage of the time?”. What about a scanner? Those are convenient. So would the ability to use desktop hard drives or a weeks worth of portable power by adding a lot of batteries. In all of those cases it would seem ridiculous to add to the current form factor for those benefits. With the optical drive it seems to be the same argument only it’s about keeping it vs the laptop Apple imagines, not adding it vs the laptop we all see.

        1. Here is one regular use for my optical drive: I have piles of software I use on my laptop. Most of it gets regular updates. After installing those updates I KEEP the installers for each version. This certainly is hoarding but it’s also profoundly useful. For example, I’ve had app utterly ruined by developers via upgrades. But I don’t care. I have all the previous installers.

          I also keep images, sounds, music, video, all of which I dump off to CD or DVD over time. I keep the disks numbered and dated and catalogued in a file on my Mac. I keep my hard drive cleared off and can find anything I want via my catalog. I go find the disk I need, pop it in the drive and grab off the files. I do this A LOT.

          I also have people hand me disks on a regular basis, wherever. I can just toss them into the optical drive and there are the files. This week I’m going to be pulling images off someone’s broken old MacBook. I can pull the files to my hard drive and burn their a DVD with everything to keep for posterity.

          On and on…

        1. I guess if you really do use it all the time that could be an issue. But, I have used mine twice. Literally. Would you rather the computer be heavier and thicker so that you are then lugging around an internal drive? What’s the real difference?

          I have never been away and said “Man, I wish I had that drive with me”.

          Maybe your usage is different and you burn mix CDs for random people at Starbucks as an icebreaker or something.

        2. @ Derek: LOL and +1

          Like my friend with his iPad – likes to carry around a wireless keyboard and a dock and a couple of thumb drives, a VGA adapter in case he has to use a projector, etc. etc. Just like I used to have to carry a couple of different modems, an assortment of telephone jacks, international power adapters ages ago. Glad we’re not doing that anymore.

        3. You DO realize that you’re gonna have to “lug” around physical media, for the optical drive to actually be useful.

          Also, apparently you haven’t seen the size of the $99 drive enclosure. It’s quite small. Just a little fatter than 2 DVD Cases that you now have to “LUG” around.

        4. Yes, I’ve seen the nicely small $99 DVD external drives for the AirBooks.

          I lug around a backpack stuffed with everything I could possibly need with my MacBook. Cables, media, flash drives, brilliant little Belkin laptop desk everyone asks about but Belkin discontinued, eyeglasses, mouse, repair DVDs, wrist pad, Apple remote, external USB hard drive for backups. I’m a tall and strong fellow and don’t mind carrying around lots of weight.

          But I don’t want to have to hook up an external optical drive to my MOBILE laptop. When I write and work on my MacBook I don’t like things dangling off it. I might as well be sitting at a desktop machine. I use my internal optical drive enough that it would be a problem and looks retrograde out in the field.

  5. We need to consider another aspect of this.. Although I agree, I don’t use my optical much, I do still use it.. I burn a CD of music I purchased from Itunes to play in the car here and there.. But one factor I believe is being over looked and I use it for most of all is “Digital Copy” of movies.. MOST of the Itunes digital copies still require you to insert the digital copy disk into the computer before you can redeem it..

    1. exactly.
      Optical drives are going away, but not dead yet.

      Although one thing I have not tried.. Is use the digital copy code without the disk in the drive.. Wonder if that allows the download? Or does it give you an error?

  6. Go ahead and dump the internal optical, but give us an external Thunderbolt option for those of us that occasionally backup to a disc, rip movies, or need to rip/play CDs sent from other people from somewhere in a different city/state.

  7. I want one SSD of 512 GB, they are affordable in the meantime. And I want on HD of 2 or 3 TB, also very affordable I do not want a DVD drive.

    However, best would be to have all the options. One needs a DVD but has no need to save tons of HD videos in FCP X like me. So everybody should be able to make a choice.

    By the way, could Apple please make new MacPro’s? I need a big workstation with 6 x 3 TB HDs for the FCP X files. I do not want to buy one of the old MacPro’s.

  8. I really don’t see the need to Air-ize the MacBook Pros. As long as the Pros are selling well, keep them full-featured. Have the Air series go from basic and low-cost, up to fully powered with the latest CPU, and then keep the Pros.

    The Pros are perfect as-is. The only change I would make would be to the optical drive bay itself. Apple could sell the series with the configuration option of leaving it empty, second Hard Drive/SSD, optical drive, or even battery.

    I may be biased, but, I have a MacBook Pro with 2 hard drives and I’m considering getting a low-end Air 11″ to compliment it…but I need the MBP, the Air would just be a luxury. This is exactly what my girlfriend does.

        1. It’s called DRM (Digital Rights Manglement) and all the system level garbage that is required to meet all the DRM enforcement requirements. Blu-ray has 3 (three) layers of DRM. This is exactly why Steve Jobs never pursued Blu-ray for Mac and why he called it “A bag of hurt”. If you want to have a fully functional Blu-ray drive for your Mac that plays movie disks and lets you write both data and movie format disks, good frickin’ luck! It is a HUGE nightmare due ot all of Sony’s fracking DRM requirements. It’s possible, but you have to do some nefarious stuff.

        2. Ah, right.

          No wonder Apple’s gone whole hog on digital downloads. Still has DRM and limited to 720p, of course, but not as much of a nightmare. And no non-skippable content at the start of the disc!

  9. This discussion is SO 15 years ago. When the original iMac came out without a 400MB “floppy” drive, the world was going to end for many people. Same with the end of a serial port…

    I still have the external USB based floppy drive I bought at the same time. Now the process is repeating with optical drives.

    Life goes on.

    1. Um, 3.5″ floppies were 1.4 MB. Zip disks were 100MB with 250MB capacities introduced the same year the iMac was.

      No idea where you got 400MB from, that’s nowhere near a typo. If floppies actually had that capacity, they might have lasted just a few more years.

  10. I found a unique way to cut the cord with the optical drive – picking up my stuff from the airport scanner yesterday, I dropped my MacBook Pro, lower right corner first, onto the tile floor. DVD opening is now jammed closed. Problem solved. Come on, new MBPs.

  11. When I bought my Mac Mini last August, (mid-2010 model) I had the optical removed and I bought a cheap external writer, and had another HDD installed in its place. Now got 1.1Tb of internal storage.

  12. For a long time, I thought that most Mac users are still far from ready to give up their CD’s and DVD’s, and I still think that; but it now seems to me that most laptop users would be willing to trade the loss of a built-in optical drive for the pleasure of using a smaller and much lighter machine. Apple’s external optical drive for the MacBook Air costs $79 and can easily be thrown into a laptop bag or carry-on by those who wish to play DVD’s away from home.

    What Mac laptops need going forward hasn’t really changed: Lighter weight, faster speed and better screens (not just higher-rez LCD’s that shrink OS-related text to absurdly small sizes).

    It seems to me that the biggest obstacle to a shrinking MacBook Pro at this stage of the game is the extremely high cost of high-capacity SSD’s. If Apple can fix that, we’re off to the races.

  13. When I got my new 13″ MBP in Spring 2011 I took the optical drive out…. moved the 750G HD into the space that was for the optical drive, and installed a 240G SSD where the HD was….

    I now use the 750G drive for 2 things…. Time Machine backups and storage for things I really don’t think need backup… like copies of my DVDs that I want to carry around with me….

    I bought an external BDRW drive for when I need an optical.

    1. If your Time Machine backup lives on your computer, I certainly hope you also backup to an external drive every day. Otherwise, you’d better pray that your MBP is never lost, smashed or stolen.

  14. I guess I don’t see the problem. You want to burn CDs and DVDs? Go right ahead! Have you seen how cheap external burners are these days?

    Imagine how much FASTER you could burn discs with Thunderbolt … or (since Thunderbolt is so damn flexible) you can use your old Firewire burner (I’ve had an external one for years now).

    I think a lot of people are severely missing the point. Apple is thinking about what laptop people need ALL THE TIME everywhere they go, not what would be nice to have every few months. Things that would be nice to have is why we have USB ports. What laptop people need to have ALL THE TIME is battery and storage.

    So let’s re-phrase the question to “would you give up an internal burner if you could gain battery and/or storage?” I think you know what the answer would be.

    1. my answer would be buy an air instead of a MBP…

      Yes it’s rare that I need the drive, but when I need the drive it’s never planned.
      I wouldn’t mind getting an air, but I know I wouldn’t take the external drive with me all the time. And there will be a time that I do need it, and it’s at home..

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