Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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534 words

People love speculating about future Apple hardware. If a bag of rice falls over close to an Apple supplier over in Taiwan the rumour sites won’t miss the ‘news’ and report it. One thing that I expect to see at some stage in the not too distant future is a Mac without a DVD drive. And that’s particularly true for portable machines.

Since the PowerBook Duos were discontinued eons ago there have always been people who moaned the loss of those machines. Machines that are great for working ‘on the road’ and that are willing to make compromises for that. Apple took the position that they’d rather ship machines which are complete and save people the hassle of having to connect external devices. And, personally, I appreciated this.

With time moving on, however, the situation is changing little by little. The DVD-drive has taken a disproportionally large percentage of a mobile computer’s volume since the PowerBook G4, I think. Particularly so as Apple decided to go for a cleaner, thinner design instead of letting users opt for a second battery or hard drive instead of the DVD-drive as the G3 PowerBooks still allowed.

With more and more uses of the DVD-drive, from sending large files to getting music, having been moved to the magic tubes of the internet by now, the DVD-drive starts being less and less useful. And seeing that Apple are actually keen on selling you their online music and possibly even films, I assume that they start considering the DVD-drive as somewhat superfluous as well.

Of course there are still places where you need that DVD drive. Software, including system software, comes on DVDs. But with external drives or partitions of drives working equally well, if not better, even for the most complicated installations, this isn’t primarily a technical issue. It’s more about getting everything into a pretty, foolproof, and user-friendly shape.

Looking at Apple’s other technologies, such as the mass-storage capabilities of iPods, the ability of their Airport station to host external drives, their iTunes store or the Time Machine software of the upcoming Mac OS X.5, makes it look likely that Apple could provide plenty of different ways to provide you with software without needing a DVD drive. It just remains to be seen which of these ways will be taken and when.

And while at the topic of DVDs – don’t they just royally suck? While I actually manage to own 7 or so DVDs by now, why can’t there be a simple DVD player? You know, the level of simplicity you had with VHS. No gazillions of settings or options for the image and sound, no region codes (even in my small selection I manage to have the natural ‘region 2’ DVDs, ‘region 1’ DVDs, a region free (0?) DVD and one which claims to be ‘region 2/3/4/5/6’), no stuff I neither want to see nor am ‘allowed’ to skip at the beginning of a disc. Sure, having extra sound tracks and subtitles is a great idea but those seem to be the only extra two buttons on a DVD player UI worth having (where the sound track switching button was already present on VCR remotes anyway).

August 2, 2007, 0:34

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