Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Vanishing CD Drive

Apple released their latest iMac recently. It's a beautiful machine. Sleek. Stylish. It's just missing one thing: a CD/DVD drive. That's right. If you buy one of these machines, you better hope none of your media comes in a disc format, because discs won't play on them (unless you shell out $80 for an external USB drive, of course.)

Even a few years ago, I think this would have alarmed me. Today? Not so much. No one wonders where the floppy drives are these days (not usually, anyway). And when was the last time you reached for a Zip Disc, or one of those old literally floppy floppy discs? They're outdated. Old news. Everything's getting downloaded more and more. For file transfer, USB drives work wonderfully.

The transition isn't complete yet, of course. Blurays, for example, still provide a generally more reliable picture and audio than streaming does. (Then again, Apple has never really supported Blurays, so why would they start now?) And some areas of the country just don't have internet speeds that are that fast. (But again, these are brand new computers. People without fast internet aren't really Apple's target demographic just yet.)

Let's face it: time is moving on, and physical storage is being left behind. For the most part, I'm all in favor of it. The pros (ease of use, no file size limitation, universal access) outweigh the cons (potential for companies to block access or remove it, alienation of some users). I do think it's very interesting and telling to see signs of this finally happening. As computers and televisions merge, will we see the movie sections of Walmart grow smaller or disappear, as more and more of it is moved online? It's already happened for music. I can't imagine movies are that far behind . . .


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