No Optical Drive In New MacBook Pro?

THE RUMBLINGS IN Mac Land indicate that the new MacBook Pro (MBP) series will be slimmed down in a major way, which is a good thing – after all, the ultra-slim MacBook Air is a ludicrously desirable thing of beauty, while the MBPs are still a tad chubby. However, Apple will apparently be cutting the MBP’s bulk by getting rid of the optical drive, which for this scribe is a bad thing.

That’s a strange statement when you consider that I’ve been predicting the death of the disk for years and have stated repeatedly that when my Marantz SACD player dies, I’ll buy a decent Digital to Analogue Converter to replace it and will stop spinning silver disks except to rip their contents onto my server or computers.

I’m typing this blog entry on a nearly new 15-inch MacBook Pro and I have to admit that I’d be boned without its optical drive. I use it all the time, as a production tool to read and create work related CDs and DVDs but I’m also ripping music to iTunes and listening to music CDs while I work on a regular basis. A good question might be why I’m still buying CDs – they’re still an easy way to get a high resolution copy of an album, not as good as vinyl but certainly more portable in terms of format shifting.

Big deal I hear you say, use the CD drive on one of your many other computers, which are all conveniently hooked up to the Wireless network. Sure buddy – I’m a single person with a single Mac, so that plan isn’t flying. Okay then, there are external optical drives available for not much loot, not least of all Apple’s own Superdrive.

Yes, that’s true but I use the MBP’s optical drive when I’m out on the road, when I’m traveling or even when I’m sitting in a café working (I’m impatient, so I rip new CDs to iTunes ASAP so I can get them onto my iPhone, sometimes I just listen to them with earphones while I’m writing). The last thing I want to do is to lug around an external optical drive – kind of defeats the point of a slimmed down computer in the first place.

There’s talk of the Ethernet port going bye-bye as well, which is a great idea – until you end up at a slightly (or entirely) third world cybercafe or hotel where you need to plug in to connect, which is when you whip out your optional USB to Ethernet adaptor and hope it doesn’t block the ports to an extent that stops you from hooking up a USB stick or camera. Note to Apple – the damn USB ports are still too close together and there’s only two of them. Wakey wakey.

I guess I’ll just stick to my “big” MBP for a while yet, although the theory that the new MPBs will get higher-definition displays, standard SSD drives and much faster Intel processors may force me to make an uncomfortable choice. By the way, I’m not one of those “OMG there’s a new Apple product! Upgrade upgrade upgrade!” types, I’m still using an iPhone 3GS, which has been a great product for my needs thus far. Looks like it’s wait and see for a while until the Apple announcements are made in mid-June.

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