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posted by hubie on Friday February 02, @09:37PM   Printer-friendly
from the subscription-everything dept.

Sometimes, it's worth taking a moment to note the end of an era, even when that ending might have happened a long time ago. Today, Apple announced that it considers the mid-2012 13-inch MacBook Pro obsolete. It was the last MacBook Pro to include an optical drive for playing CDs or DVDs.

This means that any MacBook Pro with an optical drive is no longer supported.
Apple stopped selling the mid-2012 13-inch MacBook Pro in October 2016 (it was available for a while as the company's budget option in the Pro lineup), so anyone doing the math saw this coming.
The exclusion of an optical drive in subsequent MacBook Pro models was controversial, but it's now clear that whether Apple was jumping the gun at that point or not, optical drives have fallen away for most users, and many Windows laptops no longer include them.
That's a sign of just how irrelevant optical drives are for today's users, but this seems like a good time to remember a bygone era of physical media that wasn't so long ago. So farewell, mid-2012 13-inch MacBook Pro—honestly, most of us didn't miss you by this point.

[Do you still have a collection of Blu-rays/DVDs? Do you use an Optical Disc drive anymore?] I do.

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  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by istartedi on Friday February 02, @09:58PM (8 children)

    by istartedi (123) on Friday February 02, @09:58PM (#1342871) Journal

    Swing by a thrift store, pick up a CD for $1 or $2. It might be an artist you know, or you take a chance on something and it turns out to be good--then you donate it back at some point whenever you feel like it. One of the benefits of having an older car I suppose. Yeah, you can hear anything with more modern tech; but it's not the same experience. The thrift stores also benefit charities like local hospice, meals on wheels, etc. not some huge tech company.

    Appended to the end of comments you post. Max: 120 chars.
    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Rosco P. Coltrane on Friday February 02, @11:28PM (2 children)

      by Rosco P. Coltrane (4757) on Friday February 02, @11:28PM (#1342874)

      I have an older car with a cheap aftermarket car radio that acts as a bluetooth speaker and I guarantee you I'm not giving a single cent to a huge tech company to listen to the music I like in my car.

      But yeah, I'm not giving any money to Goodwill either, sadly. It's not that I don't like thrifting mind you, and I do like the idea of supporting them, but really I can't stand delicate physical media. I've spent enough years in my youth dealing with scratched LPs, bunched up cassette tapes and scratched CDs never to want to deal with them ever again. I'm old enough for vintage to mean "old crap that we're finally rid of" to me.

      • (Score: 2) by istartedi on Saturday February 03, @12:21AM (1 child)

        by istartedi (123) on Saturday February 03, @12:21AM (#1342880) Journal

        When I first got the car I had an MP3 player, Sandisk, remember those? It could play MP3s as well as receive FM radio and was thus a worthy successor to the ol' tape-playing Walkman. The car has audio in, and I played MP3s through it like that sometimes. The little Sandisk was about $100, and it broke after about a year--just started glitching and becoming unusable right after the warranty expired. I sort of said, "screw this" and never looked back.

        Appended to the end of comments you post. Max: 120 chars.
        • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Monday February 05, @03:37PM

          by Freeman (732) on Monday February 05, @03:37PM (#1343137) Journal

          I've had various SanDisk MP3 players of the years. None recently. They were all cheap junk and broke.

          Which leads back around the very first MP3 player I bought. It was an iRock (Yes, there were things named i something, before the iPod.), and that thing lasted me all through College. What's more, that thing is still functional. Some of the rubber/soft plastic was that junk that just disintegrates (melting/turning into goo). Other than that it works just as well as it did now as when I bought it. It has a little rocker for changing the track, if you want to skip something (also functions as fast forward/rewind), it has some equalizer settings, and the thing sounds great. Sure a lot of that is down to "good headphones", but that doesn't matter if the player also sucks. It had 128MB internal and 128MB Smart Card memory expansion (which it still has and is still functional). Old flash media wasn't known for it's longevity and Smart Card is possibly "literally the worst" of the bunch. Yet I knew it was a little flimsy and I was poor (also pirating is bad), so I just had a few CDs worth of songs on it. But it was glorious, no longer was a I stuck with an antiquated (tape) system or a horrible on the go experience (CD). I could probably gift the thing to my kiddo, but some of the tracks aren't kid friendly. Kiddo has definitely listened to some of the tracks using that same MP3 player, but with me on the controls.

          Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee"
    • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 03, @02:05AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 03, @02:05AM (#1342889)

      Get off my lawn!

      Vinyl is still best []

      • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Monday February 05, @03:41PM

        by Freeman (732) on Monday February 05, @03:41PM (#1343138) Journal

        Vinyl was the best, when it was new (maybe), it probably wasn't even best when tape was around. Though tape in it's own right was kinda horrible, you at least didn't need a huge/non-portable device to play it.

        The ones that aren't lying to themselves know that they like it best, because of the imperfections. Not, because it's the best reproduction of the content. Which is where we get into CD/DVD/Blu-Ray/Flash Media/etc. and as long as the device you're using is good, there's no discerning between them. Except for possibly the load times, especially with CDs, but then that's not reproduction of sound.

        Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee"
    • (Score: 2) by julian on Saturday February 03, @05:06AM (1 child)

      by julian (6003) Subscriber Badge on Saturday February 03, @05:06AM (#1342900)

      You can also get an old classic iPod, a new battery for it, and a converter card [] that lets you replace the spinning HDD with a microSD card. It's a fun little project to upgrade it, and not that expensive. Popping it open is the hardest part but once the back plate is off everything is pretty easy to replace. One of the easier Apple products I've worked on. You can still pass those CDs on once you've ripped them and you can carry all the music with you forever

      • (Score: 2) by Unixnut on Saturday February 03, @12:17PM

        by Unixnut (5779) on Saturday February 03, @12:17PM (#1342948)

        It is good. Such a modded video ipod is still my primary audio player. Originally I got it because my car came with an "ipod dock" that only works with that generation of ipods. However with Rockbox installed and 1TB of SD storage, I actually have my entire collection on there with space to spare, and I carry it around with me.

        The battery also lasts a lot longer than when it had a HDD, and it sounds better than my phone for music. It makes sense after all, being a dedicated audio player vs the jack of trades my phone has to be.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 05, @10:48AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 05, @10:48AM (#1343091)
      I just use bluetooth and play from my phone using Musicolet. No ads, no need for mobile data. About 1000 songs on my playlist.

      The car without built-in bluetooth has a bluetooth to FM converter. The sound quality isn't so good, but it doesn't bother me and the best that car's sound system can get isn't that great either.
  • (Score: 5, Informative) by Rosco P. Coltrane on Friday February 02, @11:20PM (8 children)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (4757) on Friday February 02, @11:20PM (#1342873)

    If you need a CD drive, you can find very good external USB ones.
    Just like floppy drives. Incidentally I have one right here on my desk that reads at 2x and powers itself from a single USB 1.0 port. Amazing!

    The point being, laptops are better off with as few heavy and power-hungry things built in as possible if they're not needed regularly. With USB 3.0, you can literally dock a modern laptop with one tiny USB plug, and pretty much connect any number of power hungry external devices as needed when you're on the road.

    • (Score: 2) by aafcac on Saturday February 03, @01:03AM

      by aafcac (17646) on Saturday February 03, @01:03AM (#1342883)

      That's the route I went. I have more than one because of the asinine region blocking DVD discs where it's impossible to get media in all the languages I'm interested in with just one drive. (Or a bunch of hassle making one region free)

      I mostly just use official media for video and CDs only if I can't get a quality lossless copy.

    • (Score: 4, Funny) by Frosty Piss on Saturday February 03, @02:51AM

      by Frosty Piss (4971) on Saturday February 03, @02:51AM (#1342893)

      RMS is reading your comment from his attic hideaway at MIT, spinning in his grave - as he picks fleas out of his beard and pops a floppy in the drive to watch some Anime porn.

    • (Score: 3, Troll) by Tork on Saturday February 03, @02:54AM (3 children)

      by Tork (3914) Subscriber Badge on Saturday February 03, @02:54AM (#1342894)
      Undeserved troll mod.
      🏳️‍🌈 Proud Ally 🏳️‍🌈
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 03, @05:08AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 03, @05:08AM (#1342901)

        Aren't they all? ;-)

      • (Score: 2) by Rosco P. Coltrane on Saturday February 03, @07:05AM (1 child)

        by Rosco P. Coltrane (4757) on Saturday February 03, @07:05AM (#1342910)

        Haters gonna hate :)

        • (Score: 2) by Tork on Saturday February 03, @07:11AM

          by Tork (3914) Subscriber Badge on Saturday February 03, @07:11AM (#1342911)
          Scroll it off!
          🏳️‍🌈 Proud Ally 🏳️‍🌈
    • (Score: 2) by Tork on Saturday February 03, @03:10AM

      by Tork (3914) Subscriber Badge on Saturday February 03, @03:10AM (#1342895)
      I agree with your point I'd add that reliability is another factor. A toshiba laptop I had years ago failed in a frustrating way. The volume knob broke in some way that would, at the slightest provocation, leap to full volume. The laptops before that all stopped booting one day, I never did discover which component actually blew. Not long after the Toshiba I moved to Apple, and reliability got a LOT better. HOWEVER for anecdotal reasons I'm attributing that more to the increased simplicity of these machines over the years, not some engineering wizardry on Apple's part. Heck my smart phone is on track to become my primary machine. The ones I had in the 00's couldn't even keep their damn battery doors on.
      🏳️‍🌈 Proud Ally 🏳️‍🌈
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by loonycyborg on Monday February 05, @11:54AM

      by loonycyborg (6905) on Monday February 05, @11:54AM (#1343103)

      Strictly speaking modern variant of CD is bluray, but it didn't get to be part of default set of pc devices because it's now lot more specialized than before. BD is strictly format for distributing movies, with other uses being even more niche. While CDs also were in widespread use for software distribution, and archival with writer CD drives. Now most of those uses are handled by network or USB flash/HDD/SDD.

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by soylentnewsfan1 on Friday February 02, @11:32PM

    by soylentnewsfan1 (6684) on Friday February 02, @11:32PM (#1342875)
    Optical drives are still handy for some off market purposes through modification, some research scientists have done some amazing things with them. For example Hacking CD/DVD/Blu-ray for Biosensing [].
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Mojibake Tengu on Saturday February 03, @12:09AM

    by Mojibake Tengu (8598) on Saturday February 03, @12:09AM (#1342879) Journal

    CD/DVD media polycarbonate is excellent material for my micro milling machine, I used to make tiny robotic components of them.
    Some split into two layers after cutting edge/center, making two exact identical/symmetrical parts if milled thoughtfully.

    And... don't forget lasers! Good power in BR.

    Hmm, now I remember, I have seen a datacenter shaman exorcist staff made of CDs somewhere...

    And yes, I still have about a dozen of active optical drives on important machines, a couple of standalone portable devices too.

    Do you understand your flash disks and SSDs will become smashed in the first nuke explosion, not necessarily visible nearby?

    Respect Authorities. Know your social status. Woke responsibly.
  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by SomeGuy on Saturday February 03, @12:50AM (1 child)

    by SomeGuy (5632) on Saturday February 03, @12:50AM (#1342882)

    I still find recordable CD/DVDs handy for certain kinds of archival. No messy electronics to go bad, I won't loose all of the disks if one gets damaged, and they are read-only so they can't get deleted by one erroneous sector write. A pile of USB flash drives would be totally impractical. Don't have to worry about device connector compatibility except for the drive, that can be changed if needed. Yes, yes, yes, I also make copies to large external hard drives for easier access. Not putting this shit on someone else's ephemeral crufty outsourced file storage servers, I mean "cloud".

    I've never seen too much value in having a CD/DVD drive built in to a laptop. On business machines those were used mostly for once and a while loading software. It was probably things like copy protected game disks that kept internal drives as a necessity on laptops for some people.

    Of course, on a desktop, there is no reason not to have an internal drive.

    Once in a very rare while I pick up a 5$ DVD movie at the great Mart of Wal. Although once I watch it, I usually wish I hadn't. Yech.

    • (Score: 1) by shrewdsheep on Saturday February 03, @11:30AM

      by shrewdsheep (5215) on Saturday February 03, @11:30AM (#1342945)

      I have recently checked on CDs/DVDs ~20 yrs old. The CDs were fine, if not scratched. DVDs though had a failure rate of ~20%. Be aware that the writing process burns away dye, a process that continues by thermal and ambient light influence over time. CDs seem to be robust enough, I would not trust burned DVDs for longer than 5 yrs though. CDs seem to be reliable for 20yrs at least (I will report back in another 20 yrs). Something to also consider is that there are probably differences in quality across brands. My long-term archival is based on HDDs exclusively. I do refresh drives ~every 10 yrs.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Snospar on Saturday February 03, @01:48AM (3 children)

    by Snospar (5366) Subscriber Badge on Saturday February 03, @01:48AM (#1342888)

    I'll remember forever the excitement of laying down physical medium and waiting for the audio system to reproduce the sounds of the bands I love right in front of me (well, my ears anyway). Vinyl, Cassette Tape and eventually CD with varying amounts of quality between them - not many remember the horrible early years of CD where the promise of "scratchless" audio seemed to outstrip any attempt to properly master the music. It took many years before digital audio was something truly worth listening to and by then the need for convenience and portability were starting to grow. Pretty soon we were either being encouraged to "rip" our tracks or being warned that such an act was illegal. And that was the first taste of what was to come... music was never "owned" apparently, it was licensed to you in the format you originally paid for. Once MP3 players took off this was already a moot point but when Napster arrived things were definitely out of control.

    Now, most appear happy with Spotify but that lack of physical media has meant that someone else controls all the keys to your musical collection. I've had a playlist on Spotify for years, I listen to it (on random) weekly, almost daily, but sometimes I feel something is missing. When I dig into the list I find out that either Spotify have removed a track (without any notification) or they've replaced it with a "Live" or even "bootleg" version I don't recognise. Sometimes the artists have removed their material, and I respect that, but the complete lack of announcement around these changes worries me. With a physical media collection I was in control. Perhaps it wasn't so easy to store, catalogue or search but at least I knew that the music I had yesterday would still be there tomorrow.

    Currently an extrapolation to the future leads to silence and I'm not talking about the entropy move to vacuum.

    Huge thanks to all the Soylent volunteers without whom this community (and this post) would not be possible.
    • (Score: 2) by loonycyborg on Saturday February 03, @02:09AM

      by loonycyborg (6905) on Saturday February 03, @02:09AM (#1342890)

      You can own a physical representation of some music piece but owning abstract concept of it makes no sense. I feel that if we let either musicians or rentier rights-holders control what we do with information on our devices then eventually they'll insist on editing our minds too if ever future technology makes this possible, for example to remove memories of music pieces we're for whatever reason not licensed for anymore.

    • (Score: 2) by looorg on Saturday February 03, @04:15AM (1 child)

      by looorg (578) on Saturday February 03, @04:15AM (#1342898)

      I'm not sure CD:s are coming back as retro tho. I can in some regard understand LP/VINYL. Not sure about the richness of the sound or anything like that. But it was big, large and had interesting art on it. It was a good artifact in that regard. They are not really bringing back the cassette, they are small, fiddly, there isn't a lot of room for art. CD is in that regard between them, a little larger then the cassette so better art, should be more portable with players and in cars and such. But still easily replaced by other things. I think it's not the audio by itself that drives the urge for LP, nostalgia and being a great artifact compared to others do it. The rest can just be replaced by a usb stick with some digital music on it.

      • (Score: 2) by Snospar on Saturday February 03, @12:16PM

        by Snospar (5366) Subscriber Badge on Saturday February 03, @12:16PM (#1342947)

        Totally agree, browsing friends album collections was always a blast. I think the combination of interesting art styles, the sometimes outright weird liner notes and the ability to look back at a bands progression (e.g. look at album covers from The Beatles). Obviously you'd be doing this while listening to some fantastic music... happy times. The squeeze down to CD took some of the magic away, especially when they simply shrank the album art/text down to the smaller format.

        Huge thanks to all the Soylent volunteers without whom this community (and this post) would not be possible.
  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Nuke on Saturday February 03, @10:26AM

    by Nuke (3162) on Saturday February 03, @10:26AM (#1342939)

    USB sticks used for archiving dont have much room for sticking explanatory lables on them.

    I also have a large collection of CDs and DVDs that came with PC magazines (remember them?) with stuff like esoteric command line utilities, games (now retro), and Linux rescue distros, one of which I used only a few days ago. They are still in the cardboard containers they came in which listed their contents. I see no good reason not to keep them, or to copy that lot to any other type of media or someone's cloud, and contrary to to the warnings I have found no issues reading ones I burned 25 years ago. I have a tower PC with two DVD drives in it (for different regions) and see no reason to remove them or not transfer them to a newer PC as long at the motherboard supports them.

  • (Score: 2) by jman on Saturday February 03, @10:34AM

    by jman (6085) Subscriber Badge on Saturday February 03, @10:34AM (#1342940) Homepage
    In my teens it was records. I remember thinking five bucks was a lot to pay for Ummagumma, but at least you got two of them.

    In my 20's it was all about portability, first tape with the Walkman, then these newfangled digital things with the Discman; in the car you could have a collection, but when on the bicycle you could only carry so much media around, an "album" or two at a time.

    Nowadays, I go to my local "record store" (yes, they still exist) for both new and used "albums", and also visit the various in-town branches of a nationwide used book store for older CD content.

    Physically, these discs get played exactly once: into the computer. (Well, sometimes twice, if I use the car's player on the way home.) Once ingested, many of them end up on the phone, which has has grown to have quite the collection. The phone pipes to my car's stereo system, which is much improved from previous models.

    No Spotify, but the phone also has a streaming app. I listen to a couple of stations, one here in the U.S. (and to whom I tithe a little each month as they don't play commercials, and feature content you won't hear on mainstream radio channels), two other classical stations in Switzerland.

    The two Swiss stations are neat. One has no announcer at all, just track after track of this concerto, that symphony. If you don't recognize the tune, too bad. The other alternates between a male and female announcer, though I believe they're "canned", not actually on air. Blessedly, neither plays commercials, though even if they did, my German is rusty enough that I wouldn't be sure of what they were trying to schlep.

    One downside to everything going digital seems to be album art and the other associated print content that came with a record. Streaming players can feature covers, but without an actual record "liner", who's going to go to the trouble of producing the notes imprinted upon them? Maybe they end up on the artist's blog or something.
  • (Score: 2) by turgid on Saturday February 03, @11:19AM (2 children)

    by turgid (4318) Subscriber Badge on Saturday February 03, @11:19AM (#1342943) Journal

    I started buying CDs in 1988. They were very expensive (of the order of £15 in those days) and I had to save up for many weeks to be able to afford them. The first one I bought was Tracy Chapman, which was a DDD recording. The sound quality was a revelation compared with the vinyl records and cassette tapes that went before. Plus, the CDs were and still are more robust. I never bought another tape after that, and certainly not vinyl.

    I have hundreds and hundreds of CDs which are very precious to me and many are from before the Loudness Wars. I have made backups using cdparanoia of almost all of them and I have them stored in FLAC format. I still buy physical CDs. I don't like streaming over the Internet. I want my sound quality and I don't want some company making a profile of my listening habits. I don't want them to arbitrarily decide one day that I can't listen to something I've already paid for.

    For many years, from the 1990s well into the 2000s, optical media were the most convenient form of backup for me too. When I got my first CD writer it mean I could make reliable and quick backups of all my important files on one disk. Later, I got a DVD writer. Now I have something that writes M-Disc. I've never written one.

    Years ago I stopped playing CDs in the car because potholes were scratching them, and I certainly didn't want my rare pre-loudness wars CDs damaged. The car I have now plays MP3s from a USB stick, which is good enough. I have scripts to transcode my FLAC files.

    USB flash drives are very convenient these days, for booting PCs, for backup and for transporting data. They're fantastically cheap. I recently bought some 128GB sticks for under £5.

    However, for music, there hasn't ever been a better format than CD. All of these streaming formats are lossy. I believe that the golden ears types will tell you that CDs aren't perfect (apparently quiet cymbals sound bad due to the high frequency content and fixed-point sampling). I'm not a hipster. I will not be buying vinyl or analogue cassette tapes. I don't care so much about the artwork on the cover.

    I want the freedom to listen to what I've paid for in the best quality possible and I want to be able to shift formats for e.g. the car or my phone. I will keep an optical drive around for as long as I can. I also have a few films and TV series on DVD and we have at least one BluRay in the house.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Unixnut on Saturday February 03, @12:57PM (1 child)

      by Unixnut (5779) on Saturday February 03, @12:57PM (#1342951)

      I still buy CDs when I find them. I like to have a physical copy of the music in a lossless format. Up until COVID lockdowns there was a local market where I lived where one guy would sell CDs by the kilogram. It was a bit of a gimmick, but it did mean that you could buy a lot of CD's for little money. I would buy 1-2Kg sometimes, random artists that I never heard of, old titles, genres that I never had much exposure too, or just CD's that had nice looking artwork. It was the ultimate impulse purchase.

      Some of the music was not for me, but I discovered new Artists that I did not know about through this method.

      Thing is nowadays most people really don't care about sound quality. It started with the "Loudness wars" which crippled the CD's dynamic range, and at present day most music seems to be mastered now to sound best on tinny bluetooth speakers, and then lossy compressed to boot.

      If you do get a lossless copy of the music, you find that the recording studio samplers are using lossy compression in their samples. So I can hear the lossy artifacts in the musical instruments, which sometimes really contrasts with the quality of the singers voice. If recording studios can't be bothered to use high quality samples the end for "quality audio" has come. At least for everything except classical music, and other "pure instrument" type recording.

      Even having a "Hi-Fi" is not a thing anymore. In my parents time the "Hi-Fi stack" took pride in the living room next to the TV, and people would come to listen to music and comment on the quality (especially if you had the money to buy one of those "new" CD players). Different tape decks would play tapes with a different quality so guests would compare the decks they bought with the host, and of course some dubbing and mixtapes would be created.

      None of that is really done anymore. There just isn't the interest.

      As for my CD collection, up until recently my CDs would get ripped to FLAC and packed away, however I repaired an old CD-deck which had been sitting in my attic for years and found quite the pleasure in actually casting an eye across my CDs, picking one I feel like listening to, and looking at the artwork while listening. It is a different experience to how I usually listen to music. In fact I always struggled to look through my digital collection because the file/folder structure would obscure Albums in a hierarchy, and looking at lists of text does not give me as much input as looking at the spine artwork.

      When I know what Album I want to listen to, going to my digital collection is the fastest and best way to listen to it. If however I don't know what I want to listen to, I find physically casting an eye over my CD collection is the best way to make an impulse choice.

      As such, as far as I am concerned, CDs are not dead for me yet, and I have no plans for them to become dead. I would be fine if artists who don't want the expense of pressing their own CDs just provided me with FLAC files and some images of the artwork, and I would be happy to burn my own CDs and put them in jewel cases in my collection.

      However for non audio use, CD's are pretty much non existent in my day to day life. I have a drive in my desktop, but that is used mostly to copy data off old archival CDs to my file server. I occasionally burn a boot CD if I have a machine that refuses to boot from a USB pen drive, but that is the limit of my use. My laptop has not had an optical drive for more than 10 years, and I can count on one hand how often that has been a problem for me in that time.

      • (Score: 2) by turgid on Saturday February 03, @01:51PM

        by turgid (4318) Subscriber Badge on Saturday February 03, @01:51PM (#1342953) Journal

        Yes, I too mourn the death of HiFi. I hate listening to music over Bluetooth. I don't do it. I bought some "studio monitor" speakers a couple of years back for my PC. They're physically small, but the sound quality is the best I have heard in many years. There's a noticeable drop in sound quality if you try to use Bluetooth.