20 Jul 2009

Of Netbooks and Disc-Drives

Netbooks are all the craze nowadays. Small, lightweight and extremely portable, they are slowly replacing notebooks. And getting more powerful with each passing day. They are the best option for folks wanting cheap computing power on the fly. For office documents, surfing the net, lightweight development etc netbooks are ideal. For other areas like graphics work, heavy development, notebooks still rule the roost.

However currently all the major netbooks in the market lack an Optical drive (read DVD drive). Agreeably so, as computing using netbooks is expensive on power and an optical drive might just add to the power handling woes.

Chart sourced from Intel study

Also, considering the current trend for energy efficient devices, Netbooks are considered greener than notebooks.

However people seem to be hell-bent on wanting one. They see all these DVD's and installable CD's floating around and they presume that a netbook without a DVD drive is useless. A friend of mine likes the portability that the netbook offers but feels that its useless for him without a DVD drive.

From my perspective I feel that USB drives (alias pendrive/jumpdrive/keydrive) have almost replaced their optical cousins. Today I can store DVD movies on my USB and watch them using VLC or KMPlayer or a host of other players without hearing that DVD drive scratching and searching in the background.

For LiveCD distributions (that name sincerely needs to be changed to LiveDist or something), I can always burn the ISO to USB using something like Unetbootin. Netbooks come shipped with enough hard-disk memory to store all those archived CD's you had from college days.

The only reason to go disc drives would probably be playing legal audio cd's and archiving data for long-term storage (nothing beats optical storage here). Considering the former, honestly show me a smart samaritan today, who still listens to legal audio CD's - you know the ones that probably contain one movietrack on an entire CD. Lets agree - for anyone less than the connoisseurs, mp3 is here to stay. As regards the latter, you are better off with a cheaper external optical drive, that you can use for data archiving.

And for the ones that still complain that they need an Optical drive, I'd like to question them if they still need a floppy drive ?

(Btw I hear that Asus is planning to introduce a netbook with optical drive. Good news for those who still adore the DVD.)

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