Will Ultrabooks Kill the Optical Drive [video]?

Updated on 29 April 2012 by

Floppy drives are dead and the computer industry seems to have its sights set on the CD drive as the next victim. The vast majority of Ultrabooks ship without an optical drive, and as someone now using an Ultrabook as my primary computer, I can tell you that I’m honestly no missing it. There seems to be little room, or little need, for an optical drive in an Ultrabook.

Photo Credit: Jeff Kubina

Netbooks started the driveless trend, and I think that Ultrabooks will see it through to the end. Netbooks lacked optical drives — after all, why include a Blu-ray drive, for instance, if a netbook rarely had the power to play back HD content. Ultrabooks, on the other hand, seem to exclude optical drives — an Ultrabook has the power to play HD content with ease, but with the proliferation of readily available HD media online, why bother with the physical drive — and for that matter — why even bother with a dedicated Blu-ray player if you can just as easily hook an Ultrabook up to an HDTV, or even just stream your Ultrabook to it with Intel’s WiDi technology.

But of course this might not hold true for everyone, there are certainly other practical uses for optical drives. So we’d like to hear from you: is an optical drive still an essential part of your computing experience, or will you be happy to rid yourself and your computer of it?

16 Comments For This Post

  1. Andrew says:

    I made the change from a desktop quad-core, GTX 460 (gaming rig) to a notebook (3 generations old), 6 months ago. Yes, I gave up gaming. Now I’m waiting for the Asus UX31A as my first ultrabook.

    In the last 6 months that I used a notebook as my primary device, I haven’t used CD’s/DVD’s at all. Hell, I even got rid of all my CD’s a couple of months back. And I must say, it is a relief. Why would somebody still need a CD when all media is accessible online ? And please don’t tell me for OS re-installing, because that’s a job for USB thumb drives.

    Now the last thing I’m looking forward to is to actually get rid of the DVD-WR from my device (by replacing it with the UX31A). Can’t wait :D

  2. Eliqieur says:

    Stopped using integrated optical drives back in the Fujitsu P5000 days in 2004.

    Your previous laptop is hideous whatever it was.

  3. Ben Lang says:

    Indeed it was… it was thick already because it was old. Then factor in that it was a tablet PC… then I had to add an extended battery because it otherwise wouldn’t get me through my day!

    I’m impressed with the durability of it, and I do miss the ability to accurately draw on the screen, but the UX31 is far thinner *and* way more powerful… and gets better battery life. Not a bad trade for the tablet functions.

  4. Clio says:

    I have a feeling that Optical drives are going to die a long and agonizingly slow death, and I will feel safer if I at least have 1 working optical drive at home & 1 at work too, at least for another 3 years.

    Main reason is that optical discs are really good media to distribute:
    – It’s cheapest & dispensable. Flash memory is always in shortage, thus can not be as cheap.
    – Optical Discs are robust, it holds its data for decades.
    – Read Only is often an advantage in this context.
    – Capacity & speed of DVD is more than enough for most uses, except to distribute videos
    – Other physical items can be packaged with physical media, therefore content providers have better control on the consumer experience with the media
    – popping in a disc and follow on-screen instructions is intuitive and requires less technology knowledge than download, and figure out what to do/ what else is needed

    Unlike when floppies died at 1.44MB and content size easily exceeding that, DVDs and Blu-Rays don’t have a technology with 500x capacity circling above, nor is there a consumer need for such tech at this time.

    So I think, don’t call it the end of Optical Drives just yet.

  5. Fulvio says:

    The only time when i could use an optical drive is when i need to install some new SO on the computer, and for that you can always find a way to install by USB pendrive…
    The other use could be to install Videogames, but they come as digital download nowadays and you don’t game that much on an ultrabook anyway…

  6. Ben Lang says:

    Good discussion here everyone. I guess you might say I’m a bit of a cheater as I have a USB drive floating around which I could always use for an emergency. But including it directly in the laptop, given the frequency that I need it, would be like building a grill into my car!

  7. Tsuki says:

    A lot of ultraportables have excluded optical drives for years now. Excluding optical drives is nothing new.

    I think optical media will have to kill itself. Advertising more laptops like ultrabooks that exclude optical drives to consumers will nudge it faster, but for it to disappear the optical drive will have to be useless to normal people, not just us ultraportable and ultrabook fans.

  8. Rank Merida says:

    No optical drive on my laptop. But definitely dvds are still needed for back-up. So I rely on USB writers.

  9. daniel says:

    Optical drive will be no more an essential part of my system, if i have my ultra book..There is certainly no use for it because Ultrabook has the power to play HD content with ease.

  10. keith says:

    I still use mine mostly for CD rips, and the occasional game installs. It doesn’t have as much of an impact nowadays as it did a decade ago, but unless everything I buy from the store comes on a USB stick, I feel you still need at least a portable one in the house. And no, unless I also get everything I get on the CD when I download from iTunes/Amazon/whatever, I am not going to ditch my CD albums.

  11. Leigh Harrison says:

    I rely on the DVD drive in my 11.6″ Vaio TR for entertainment when I’m on the road … and often use it as a DVD player at home as my partner and I have differing tastes in entertainment. I really don’t relish the thought of ripping my library of DVDs, even on an as-needed basis. There are hundreds of titles and I regularly acquire more. An exceptionally portable laptop with an optical drive is the perfect road warrior device for me, and I’m a little concerned at what I’ll do when my aging Vaio finally says goodnight.

  12. Maria G Matus says:

    I do quite a bit of travelling for both personal and business reasons, and I like to take along my favorite Bluerays. And since my condo has limited space, my laptop is useful when it comes to renting new Blueray movies.

    I also keep on separate CDs private information that I would not want anyone to look at if I lose my laptop.

    I’ve been having trouble finding an Ultrabook with an Optical Drive. Neither Best Buy nor Micro Center carry them.

    And it’s too bad that the new collapsible Ultrabooks (those that turn into tablets) do not come with an optical drive, much less a Blueray drive!! That detail will keep me from buying a collapsible as much as I would like to have one.

    What are they thinking? Just because one guy’s technical needs do not include one of an optical drive, does not mean that it is so for everyone else.

    Remember, different strokes for different folks!

  13. MIltRawk says:

    So here’s the facts. I just deleted about 5 paragraphs as to how I would be excluded from the use of Ultrabooks because I needed an optical drive to install games.

    At 31 years of age, I feel embarrassed that I didn’t realize that every game I intended to purchase to play on PC verses paying for a new gaming system, is available for direct download.

    With that said, I would have to agree that optical drives will soon be out with the giant plate sized floppies of the past, on the basis that anything you could possible put on an optical disc can be acquired directly from the internet.

    Too bad you couldn’t read what I originally was going to post. It was a Gem.

  14. shawn says:

    Hmmm. Never really thought about it. I still have a cd player in my car. So long as I have the need to copy/burn cds, I’ll always want an optical drive. Additionally, if I have to reinstall OS then the web content won’t do me any good. If it weren’t for buggy operating systems and malware/viruses that sometimes seem to slip through even the best anti-virus programs, then I could see it. Interesting discussion but I don’t think I’m ready to give up that drive yet. Additionally, the ultrabooks seem to be far more expensive. I’m not sure that I am yet willing to pay that for less capability, and a slightly less weight. I also want to continue ripping my cds, as I don’t yet trust electronic music files. Too many formats, and too many music companies trying to rip off consumers with confusing protection and anti-copying tech. I don’t think that I’ll be giving up my music cds any time soon. It’s true though; beyond the occasional software install or ripping cds, I barely ever use the player on a laptop.

  15. Kristy says:

    (Electronics) I bought this item for my Asus Eee PC Netbook. The intltslaaion was a breeze and everything runs perfectly. I didn’t have to use a disc (although it comes with one), and all I had to do was plug it in and it was ready to use. The one thing that you should know is that it requires the use of 2 USB ports and they have to be right next each other. If you have a laptop or PC that has 1 USB on one side, and the other on the opposite, you’re out of luck (I have yet to try it by only using 1 USB port). I would hardly call it a complaint but it is a tad on the loud side when you play a DVD. Overall a great little DVD player for a much cheaper price here rather than buying one at your local Best Buy.

  16. Pamela says:

    I am not ready to get rid of my optical drive! I watch movies all the time and don’t always want to have to download it especially if it something obscure that I purchased. So I’m rather concerned about the trend of removing optical drives. Sure there are folks out there who are ready to it adapt to all the new trends. However, I hope manufacturers keep everyone in mind as technology should be for everyone not just fir those who are very agile with it. I’m a little older than most of you but I think that we need to keep the optical drives for a bit longer.

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