back to article Apple's skinny new iMac line: Farewell, optical drives

The new 7.85 7.9-inch iPad mini and the upgraded fourth-generation iPad weren't the only bits of kit featured during Apple's "a little more" event this Tuesday in San José, California. Also announced was Apple's new eighth-generation iMac lineup. Sadly, the event also signaled the end of the presence of optical drives built …

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@ AC Re: @chad Niche legacy hardware?

And I think you overestimate the actual amount of people who need an optical drive by stretching to a circumstance that simply does not effect the casual user, and even in your example have viable alternatives to a burned DVD, such as a *Reusable* Flash disk

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Alternative for achiving

NAS drive. In the space of about 5 or 6 DVD cases you can have several terrabytes of storage. Since you're on a mac you've got the luxuary of Time Machine's incremental and automatic backups allowing you to go back to earlier versions of documents. If you want to archive the archive, I suppose you can copy that somewhere once every so often.

Sounds like I just saved you a lot of time from those automatic backups.

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I dunno....

I deliberatly stepped up the purchase of my 17in Macbook Pro because of the no CD/DVD rom rumours spreaading at that time. However, since then I have to report I have inserted a whole 1 CD in just about 12 months now.

I think this is pretty much a similar reaction to the loss of the Floppy. Most of us have stopped using them, but we just don't realise it yet. We want an optical drive because its "normal" and we've had one for as long as we can remember.

Now I know there are some of you out there with bad broadband, or have some specialist thing that is only on disc, and some of you might even still buy stuff in boxes... but I think for most of us, if we actually did an audit of what we use an optical drive for (and what alternatives there are for the few things we still use them for - steam/downloads, NAS drives, etc), I think you'll be suprised as I am about just how much we don't actually need them anymore. They're just a bit of a safety net.

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Re: I dunno....

I need a DVD drive due to some IBM software that only comes on DVD and gets upgraded every year, so with my last laptop I decided to get a blue rayplayer. It only because of the blueray that I'v given any thought about how often I use it which has been never, not once apart from the yearly updates from IBM and they still need an internet connection to activate.

Next upgrade im going to drop the drive, drop the weight and get the cheepest USB drive on the market. That assumes IBM are still doing their retarded security (guessing each of the disc's may have some slightly different code on it). Noticed in Africa and SE Asia disc's arn't being used that much anymore, still for installing software and burning movies but apart from that it's either the internet or the sneeker net with USB devices.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I dunno....

How do we cope with medium-term archiving of work? Shelves full of hard drives and USB sticks? DVDs are a cheap (pence rather than pounds) means of passing copies of large amounts of data to others or backing them up into an archive for several years. I use optical drives daily for both. 'The cloud' is not a safe place to store your stuff as the Megaupload debacle has proven.

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Re: I dunno....

NAS Drive. mac backs up automatically every hour, and you're able to access old versions of the file too, you don't even have to think about backing up, it just happens.. Job done.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I dunno....

That'd have to be one hefty NAS drive to handle the output of the whole studio. Maybe a server farm. ;)

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Re: I dunno....

A Mac Mini with 2Tb of Storage has got to be smaller than the equivalent space in DVDs. Its also reusable.

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Anonymous Coward

And thinness matters in this space WHY?

OK, I can understand why you want your phone to be thin (although past a certain point what does it matter? - width and height become what controls which pocket it can fit in, and you cannot change those values too much without it becoming unusable as it has to span the distance from ear to mouth and be wide enough to display a usable amount of information. I'd rather have thicker with more battery.)

I can understand why you want your tablet to be thin (although the arguments above come into play again).

I can understand why you want you laptop to be thin (although the arguments above come into play).

But WHY do you care how thick your desktop is?

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GBE

Re: And thinness matters in this space WHY?

Exactly.

Once it's thinner that maybe 5cm, who cares?

I guess if you're buying merely it as room decoration, maybe it matters. But, compared to the amount of clutter and garbage on an actual working desktop,

a display thats 1cm thick instead of 5cm thick just doesn't matter.

IMO, the same thing goes for TVs. I'd much rather my "thin" TV were an inch or two thicker and had speakers that didn't make you want to push sharp objects into your brain through your earholes.

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Pint

Re: And thinness matters in this space WHY?

You forgot to mention my girlfriend.

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Gold badge

Re: And thinness matters in this space WHY?

But WHY do you care how thick your desktop is?

You're missing the logical progression. The next thing that will happen is that the screen will become touch sensitive. It will be at this point you realise why Apple put the launch pad in OSX - lie the thing flat on its back and you'll have a 27" iPad..

Personally I don't care about thickness. I want Apple to make those cool see-through glass sheets like every SF movie is showing..

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I don't

If you think glare is bad...

Great point about the 27" iPad, though! All they need to do at that point is mount it on a sufficiently clever stand, and the Microsoft Surface can go and whistle --

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Re: I don't

It will have to be a much better engineered stand than it has at the moment. A single touch of an iMac screen will tilt the whole thing. I'm just not sold on the idea of desktop touch screens for normal computer use, unless you keep a squidgee next to your keyboard the screen is going to be smudgy and annoying to view very quickly.

As well as the key reason why this tech won't catch on which is that operating a computer by touching all over a 27" screen is a lot more effort than making tiny movements of a mouse.

We already have large touch screens like the Wacom Cintiq which have been around for years but their use is limited to fields who actually benefit from accurate touch.

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JDX
Gold badge

I don't think I'll get one

... as a Mac developer a MacBook or Mini is OK... but they are damn nice to look at. Design IS important.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I don't think I'll get one

Design may be important, but when you're looking at one you're looking at the fat bit - the front - not the side. 'Thinness' is irrelevant - the desktop footprint hasn't changed.

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FAIL

Ve are Apple!!

You vill obey!!

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Nya

Question...

So, the side is too thin for a SD card slot...so that must mean it's too thin for USB, so where the hell have they put the USB ports? also inaccessible round the back somewhere?

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Happy

Re: Question...

They've been round the back for donkeys years!

Steven R

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J 3

Re: Question...

Yes, it's been horrible for years already.

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Horrible, yes

So much worse than the front-mounted USB ports you find on PC towers -- which, in my experience, are wonderfully placed for any careless foot to kick to death anything one incautiously plugs into them. It is also, of course, a delightful and not at all undignified exercise to lean down out of one's chair to plug something into them.

So I figure, what the hell. If you're buying a USB hub anyway -- which almost everyone is, who uses USB ports on more than a monthly basis -- what difference where it plugs into the PC?

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Re: Horrible, yes

Assume we add the iHub on to the iDVD drive as peripherals it turned out we needed because the 'amazing design' had dispensed with them.

There do seem to be an awful lot of people saying "I wouldn't use a machine like that, so nobody would." That is very much Apple's style, though - the "you're holding it wrong" attitude to design.

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optical drives

I don't use my optical drive for installing software any more as it comes downloaded from the Internet these days. I also don't use it for burning discs, it's much easier to use online storage or a USB drive.

I do however use my drive all the time for ripping CDs, DVDs and BluRays.

Now the number of CDs I'm buying is decreasing as mp3 prices fall but I think we're a way off having DRM free downloadable films so my desktop computer will have a bluray drive for the foreseeable future.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: optical drives

You can buy a USB-powered Bluray writer for roughly 80 quid (Samsung SE-506). If you're spending big money on an iMac (and you are, 'cos they aren't cheap after all...) you're not going to give up the whole idea for the sake of an extra few quid. Especially if it then means you can use the same drive if you have other kit like a netbook for example.

Really, there are things to moan about from the show (the price of the iPad mini is bordering on lunacy) but dropping the optical drive from the one remaining model that still had it (yes, yes, Mac pro. Like they give a crap about the mac pro any more) is really not it. That boat sailed ages ago.

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Anonymous Coward

5400 RPM drives...

...in kit that costs more than $1000 is insane. Completely, absofuckinglutely insane.

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Boffin

Re: 5400 RPM drives...

Have you ever felt the heat difference between 5400 rpm drives and 7200 rpm drives? It isn't a cost excersize, it is a heat management decision. Apple would rather have it take a fraction of a second longer to load something if that lets them avoid the use of fans, and all of the aural irritation they present. I have a Sony Vaio 17" i7/7200 drive/16Gigs which I replaced with a MacBookPro /Retina, and while I LOVED my Sony, the difference in radiated noise is so stark that I wonder at times how I actually concentrated with the Sony turned on. The MBP is so quiet it might as well be a prop. I concentrate better, have less problems on phone calls, and avoid a hot blast on my left hand. That is thermal efficient design, and THAT is why they use 5400 rpm drives... Of course, I use SSDs now and store all my archive files on my Synology 1812+.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 5400 RPM drives...

Given that Apple sell upgrades to 7200 RPM drives, I am inclined to believe it's a money decision.

Regarding the hard drive heat characteristics, yours isn't a valid comparison. The iMac uses 3.5" drives, not 2.5" drives, where power draw (and thus heat) is similar between the 5400 RPM and 7200 RPM varieties (5-10W). Next, to compare the Sony Vaio's noise to that of the MacBook Pro and come to the conclusion that it must be the fans is anecdotal and specious logic. I write this on an 2009 iMac with a 7200 RPM hard drive operating currently at 59.0C and the iMac is basically silent. I hear the drive's platters spinning, but the computer's fans are very quiet. Next to me is a Dell Latitude with an SSD whose CPU fan is quite noisy and the heat from the Intel i7 CPU is substantial.

I won't definitively say that your Sony has no hard drive fan that pumps hot air on your left hand, but it is far more likely that is the CPU since the CPU draws ten times as much power as your 2.5" hard drive (35W vs ~3W).

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Silver badge
Joke

Needed?

They were slot-load anyway - not like you could even use them as a cup holder!

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Thumb Up

Good Riddance!

Haven't used an optical DVD drive in years. Glad to see it go. I think they were the most failure-prone component on every computer I've owned. Actually, not true. I guess the original 5.25" floppy drives were worse.

In a world with App Stores, cloud services like Dropbox, and non-spinning hard media options like SD Cards and USB flash drives, who needs or wants an optical DVD drive? If you're thinking "I do", then I have a tar pit I'd like to show you.

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Holmes

Re: Good Riddance!

You never used a Sinclair ZX MicroDrive then? Newbie.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Good Riddance!

You never used an Exatron Stringy Floppy then? N00b.

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Pint

Re: Good Riddance!

You say they are removing the MicroDrive from the new models?

Oh man! First the tape recorder and now the MicroDrive, whats next? The RF output??

I will never buy any Sinclair product again, ever!!

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Who uses DVD?

Honestly I have not installed anything from a DVD for a long time. For instance, I just installed MS Office, it was purchased and installed directly from MS. Every piece of software is available for download, often at a reduced price. Even software that is not for download is often now shipped on USB. For instance Autodesk is on USB.

There is no reason why lack of a DVD drive means anything other than the inability to play DVDs. Even this does not infer Apple homogeny. One is just as likely to get free videos from Amazon or Netflix, or even rent or buy them from Amazon or even Blockbuster. There is competition, and not much of it is in physical media.

Anyway, if one is going to include a physical media player in a high end machine it is going to be a blu ray player. I, for one, even though will pay for Apple equipment, would not pay the markup for a Bluray player that I will likely never use.

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Re: Who uses DVD?

I agree completely. I do have an external USB 3.0 Blu-Ray drive in case I need it, but I haven't used it since I backed up the last of my DVDs and I don't purchase content on hard media any more.

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Bronze badge
Pint

Bitchbitchbitchkvetchwretch

About the excision of the optical drive from the iMacs:

Optical drives are likely already to be on hand in a computer-using household, and they're going to be accessible freely. DVD/CD Sharing has been around on the Mac for years. It's a very long stretch to suggest that even a measurable percentage of the computer-using public don't already have an alternate means to get data from 'there' to 'here' e.g. USB keys, the network, Target Disk Mode, email, etc.. And that they need to resort to those with any frequency. Optical drives are also available cheaply, if you strictly must... In general, though, built-in optical drives are a waste: they sit idle on a bus in your box for years on end, and eventually die a heat-death--all for the benefit of burning a few discs, installing some legacy game/software, and making a coaster or two.

Take a muscle relaxant--preferably orally--if you can't shut up.

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Will you listen to yourselves, fretting and bleating in panic, bolstering your tiny minds against the shock.I've had four iMacs and none of them went wrong,EVER In fact I've had a lot more Macs than that over the years and none of them went wrong. EVER. I've PC's. They did go wrong. A lot. Guess I'm lucky,huh? Me and my Lottery-lucky Mac mates.

Seriously, listen to yourselves. I've had both PC and Mac, and PC's are awful, ugly (and I mean Steve Ballmer ugly ) unreliable, impenetrable lumps of midden ( both hardware and software). Windows will always be a pathetic copy of Mac OS, and don't listen to anyone who thinks it has the monopoly on customisation.WRONG. Anyone who complains about the lack of an optical drive is, at worst, an idiot, or,at best, ill-informed. Apple made it clear that external optical drives can be connected. So. So much for the control freak theory. You're so paranoid. Doesn't this remind you of the control-criticism leveled at Gates and Windows?!

Seriously, the anti- thin brigade really don't get it. It's nothing to do with art, even though it looks great. Would you prefer a Ford, which performs merely OK, and looks like mammoth's shit, or a Mercedes, that will pulverize it, in every department? The future is about portability, speed, ergonomics and ...vision. Maybe you flat-world clowns ( or is it clones? ) can't see that.

Did it ever occur to you that the future is going to surprise, alarm and generally give you retarded dinosaurs a hard time in every aspect of your sorry, three-dimensional existence, until you catch up? Then it's too late: things will have moved on again ,as you dumbly look up and wonder what that big bright thing in the sky was that WIPED YOU OUT.

Never mind. Sit down, have a nice mug of cocoa, and eventually the shock will wear off. The shock that the world is just moving too quickly for your lone brain cell to comprehend,as it bounces around that empty, collective skull of yours. It's called shock of the new, geddit?

Still, no-one likes that kid who knows all the answers, do they? No-one likes a smart ass. That's why Apple gets so much flack from the meat-head techno-bullies.

Having said that, I'm going to get real jumpy when we get to the point when technology is so elegantly and physically,er, discreet, that you buy your new iMac iMperceptible , open the nice big box, and find that it's....empty. Time to buy the Emperor some new clothes....

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I must say, I think it's sad when people become so devoted to any brand that they resort to calling anyone who disagrees with them "retarded dinosaurs".

"The future is about portability, speed, ergonomics and ...vision. Maybe you flat-world clowns ( or is it clones? )"

Disregarding your immature attempt at insults, I don't think anyone doubts that speed is important. But ergonomics? I don't see how desktop PCs can move in a more ergonomic direction - your only physical interaction with the actual physical PC is to turn it on and plug things into it occasionally. I don't want my desktop to be portable either - it sits in one position on my desk in the same position for 5+ years until it's moved elsewhere and replaced. It makes no difference to me if it's 3 inches thick or 5mm thick. And 'vision' doesn't mean anything - it's just a buzzword.

The problem with the obsession with thinness is that it seems to come at the expense of features and specifications. 5400 RPM drives in the 21" version to keep down heat, and yes the removal of the disk drive. I'm happy to be branded an "idiot" by you for my concern about the removal of the disk drive. I still use disks fairly regularly. I buy music on CDs and I want to be able to rip them to my computer; I buy films on DVD, If I've got a high-resolution 27" screen, I'm going to use it to watch those films. I've been waiting for the new iMac to be released for a considerable amount of time to decide whether I want to make the jump from Windows to Mac, but I'm simply not willing to pay the same cost for features that have been removed.

Just relax and accept that some people disagree with you. You don't need to resort to personal attacks. Just take a look at the personal attacks you chose to use in your comment - it's embarrassing.

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Stop

@ Big Willy

Steady on. Who took the jam out of your doughnut?

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FAIL

Really!!!!!

Big Willie,

All I can say is you must be one of the lucky owners of the iMac.

FWIW, since the 2009 October Aluminium was launched, I've now owned 7 of them ranging from the low end C2D 3.09Ghz, i3,15 and i7 BTO 27in from 2011 - of these seven iMac's, 4 have had the LCD panel replaced and one is presently having its Seagate HDD replaced after a Apple recall. Further, of the two i5 27in iMac's I ordered in June 2011, both had to be replaced within 14 days because of screen yellow tint issues - and no, as Apple maintain, it was not the adhesive drying.

In the real world of iMac users, the 2009 -2011 revision iMac's suffered huge issues with greying/dusting screens - if you listened to the presentation, they spoke about laminating the glass panel with the LCD panel - this being one of the causes, the other being to do with thermals and airflow - a design blunder Apple failed to remedy.

So, whilst the new iMac may look aesthetically pleasing, at least to the much vaunted 1%er's, Apple's obsession with form over substance is getting beyond a joke - I actually do utilise the SuperDrive, don't utilise cloud storage due to the fact that my broadband connection is crap and i don't trust placing my data on other persons drives and certainly have never used the iTunes store to purchase anything - what I need I download and as a Xbox user, it will be bloody hard to rip/burn DVD's without cluttering up my desktop.

Given the AIO concept is to avoid clutter, basically with the new iMac you get more clutter, external DVD, USB Hub, Cameral card readers etc. etc.

And the cost of the latest BTO 27in, don't make me laugh - God you can't even swap out RAM in the 21.5in anymore, nevermind swap out a SSD/HDD.

A big Fail!!!!!!!

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Linux

Surprised it hasn't been mentioned yet with all the shiny/design fetishisation going on but has no one considered how UGLY it is to have an external drive plugged in? (Or on a laptop, having adapters to plug in a wired network or a monitor?) It's ugly.

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Ummmm, why do you need such a device at all in the modern world?! Now THAT's ugly....

But Apple are compassionate.

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FAIL

$80.00(USD) For a USB DVD Burner? Normally I'd be asking WTF R they crazy?!

Then again this is Crapple, and it's not like their Fanboiz;

a) Haven't got Moneyz to burn

b) Are terribly likely to complain.

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Ah, the Velcro-slipper brigade weighs in. Delightful.

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Silver badge

"Today I heard about plasma deposition"

Sorry Phil, I've been getting shit coated with plasma deposition for over a decade along with other surface treatments trying to get various surfaces to be hydro/oleo/lipo-phobic/philic along with inhibiting scaling of numerous compounds at a variety of temperatures. Recently got a really nice low drag treatment that, given the current geometry, seems to enhance the thermal energy transfer between two oil based working fluids using natural convection, remind me to tell you all about it once the due diligence is done and the patent application published or you could just wait and read it.

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Re: "Today I heard about plasma deposition"

Yeah, well, that all sounds like you know what you're talking about,doesn't it. But you DON'T.

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Silver badge

Re: "Today I heard about plasma deposition"

Well, that certainly puts me in my place doesn't it. After all with such an accurate name like Big Willy and so many knowledgeable posts it's clear that you're an expert in these matters and a lowly physicist such as myself is just another clueless troll. Mea culpa, oh great and powerful Big Willy, mea maxima culpa.

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Silver badge
FAIL

Why I want my optical drive

I have just boarded a plane with the latest release Blu-ray (missed the movie in the cinemas) that I purchased in the airport that I am transiting through. I purchased it here because the slack and idle media companies haven't released it at home yet. I don't have time to download it from the internet (and can't do that at home because the media company says it is not available in my region at this date) and will want to watch it on my home theatre when I get home.

I want to watch it on the plane/train/ferry/(whatever mode of transport you like to substitute) and I am now expected to not only balance the laptop on my knees to watch it I also have to balance the external Blu-ray player somewhere as well.

Moe than once I have decided against a particular hardware purchase because the devices I needed to use had to be external when other brands/models offered the feature I needed internally.

As to the image projected by the "cutesy" design... It is totally ruined by having to plug in the external player. As to the idea of having to go around the back of the damn thing to plug in the SD card or USB stick... That is totally tacky and to have yet another box (or 2) hanging off the screen to accomodate the card reader and USB hub - more design fail.

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Re: Why I want my optical drive

Erm... are you talking about the same product here? This is the iMac - might be a bit tricky to balance on your knees on a plane/train/ferry.

Oh - and if a Blu-Ray drive is important for you, then buy a product that includes a Blu-Ray player. Simples.

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Re: Why I want my optical drive

Hate to break it to you, but Apple have never utilised BluRay in any of its products - not knocking your sentiment though as many a Apple Fanbois has been 'pissed' about this decision by Steve Job's.

However, and living in the real World, whilst I do utilise optical media, the majority of my music and movie collection is now in digital format on my external storage - currently using 11T - would invest in a Drobo5 FW or Thunderbolt, but can't afford to spend as much on a storage solution as it costs for the iMac itself.

Anyway, even though broadband speeds slow to a crawl where I live, I still now download 99% of my media consumption via Bittorrent, however HD rips can be substantial even in Xvid - a few HD movies I've got are 20G - nearly as big as the HD original copy.

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Anonymous Coward

Either way

It's either crazy or a brilliant marketing technique. Either way it's crazy.

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