Earlier this week, Apple announced an update to its ultra-small desktop computer, the Mac mini. It was a fairly minor refresh except for one thing – Apple has removed the DVD drive.
Change is hard to grasp. One moment everything seems just as it ever was. A moment later you’ve had the proverbial rug pulled from under you. That’s not how it happens, of course; change rarely happens overnight. But, more often than not, we don’t notice it happening until an event draws our attention to it.
Apple’s decision to remove the DVD drive from its Mac mini was such a moment, albeit an indicator rather than ‘The Event’.
We’ve reviewed many laptops that haven’t featured DVD drives before, but that’s typically born of necessity – a desire for slimness and portability. Desktops, however, are rarely compromised like this – and the Mac mini (small as it is) previously had one.
Apple’s decision wasn’t a necessity, it was a conscious choice. And while the Mac mini probably isn’t for me, I’m certain I wouldn’t miss the disc spinner if I had one.
Apple’s going digital
That it’s Apple making this choice is no surprise. Of all the computer manufacturers out there it has the most to gain from the death of DVD. Its latest Mac OS is being sold exclusively via its online App Store, and iTunes is a major hub for purchasing and downloading music and films.
If you buy into the Apple ecosystem, not having a DVD drive is no great impediment. It’s no accident Apple hasn’t, and certainly never will, support the Blu-ray HD disc format.
Apple has offered up some alternatives. You can purchase an external DVD drive, or even ‘share’ the optical drive of another Mac or PC with the Mac mini if the occasion arises. But both solutions seem apologetic, especially as the ‘official’ external drive costs an optimistic £66.
In fairness to Apple, a Mac mini with the external drive still works out cheaper than last year’s version, but you’ll still need to add a keyboard and mouse to the price.
How often do you use DVD?
Most of us own films on DVD – me more than most. But I’ve got a TV and a DVD player to watch films on. My laptop has a DVD drive, but I’ve only used it twice in two years. Once to install some software (software I could have downloaded if I wanted) and a second time when someone gave me some images on disk.
It would have been inconvenient on both occasions had I not had a DVD drive, but an alternative wouldn’t have been hard to come by.
I’m probably an extreme example, but Apple’s move is a stark reminder that physical media – particularly DVDs – are in the twilight of their lives. It could be a long, glorious (defiant, even) twilight, but don’t be surprised when DVDs disappear from our high-streets to convalesce in car boot sales.
Would you buy a PC without a DVD drive?
No (74%, 489 Votes)
Yes (23%, 150 Votes)
I don't give a monkey's (4%, 28 Votes)
Total Voters: 664