Is the Optical Drive and Physical media Dying Out?

Optical Drive

Before the invention of solid-state drives, large flash drives and the likes, there was the Optical drive. Most people depended on the Optical drive to make copies of games, read music and movie files or even literally back up their data for posterity. The optical drive was king of read and write for desktops and laptops, and at its inception was heavily relied upon. You could order a DVD/R from a store say Walmart, if your laptop didn’t have one, and get an external drive capable of playing and writing data on a DVD/CD.

The DVD drive craze all started with CDs, DVDs and now Blu-ray but I guess you know that already. For a while CDs were the efficient mode of data storage capable of storing up to 640MBs. Then came the DVDs with 4.7MBs of data storage capacity and finally Blu-ray with the most advanced external storage option there was. FYI, Blu-ray were divided into three options namely single layer that could store 25GBs, Dual layer capable of saving 50GBs and Triple layer with up to 100GBs storage space.

So users had at least one DVD drive in their PC (laptop/desktop) and if it broke or they needed to write DVD, they would have to purchase a DVD-RW drive. All along DVDs worked fine until the age of gaming came in and the demand for top-of-the-line optical drives arose. To remedy this, Blu-ray technology  stepped in with twice as much information as the standard DVD. However, how long that will last is the question. Does Blu-ray stand a chance of getting phased out like the DVD drive and physical media?

I only say this because it’s been a while since I personally used them. And with the entry of Cloud storage, downloads are becoming the preferred choice of use. A good example is the gaming scene where PC gaming websites have cropped up offering online freeware games, from action to Indie and everything in between. Also, aside from playing online, you can download the games, get updates and interact with other online gamers and perhaps even make new potential friends. Apple allows streaming music online, downloading free games from the iCloud store and buying premium ones too. They’ve literally built a fortune 500 company on the back of online stores and downloads.

SSD vs DVD

The world is clearly shifting to a digital age at a fast pace and everyone is fighting to keep up the wagon train. That is as a result of the economic growth of industries, tech startups and countries as a whole. The growth has sparked the introduction of new and more reliable tech like Solid State Drives which in the long run have replaced the use of DVDs as an external expansion storage option for laptops and PCs. More users are turning to solid state drives, flash drives or online downloads as mentioned above. Why you may ask?

Because SSD offer are a faster alternative compared to both HDD and DVD. It

Requires less power to save and retrieve stored data, has less moving parts and allows the operating system around 10-13 seconds average bootup time which is pretty fast.

For the PC scene, DVD drives are seemingly showing signs of an gloomy end. With Software and antivirus companies slowly moving their products online, the death of physical media here looks sure. The future of the DVD drive for laptops especially is bleak most notably within the US and Europe. The rest of the world might still be a bit behind but from this standpoint it looks almost certainly sure.

As if to add a the final nail to the coffin, streaming companies like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, iTunes, Vudu and others have introduced a myriad of choices. You don’t have to pay $15-$20 for a movie, watch it a couple of times and keep it somewhere safe. The downside though is that you won’t be able to share movies with your loved ones or family. Also, you only get access to the most recent movies available on their streaming service. If you’re like me who frequently likes looking for old 90’s movies, you’re out of luck. You won’t find them on iTunes, Vudu, Redbox and since we killed BlockBuster Video thinking we’d never need it again, you won’t find it there either.

Studios have also joined the cult; only first releasing content (music) to their listeners in digital format and offering physical versions few weeks to a month later. At least for them the reason sounds a bit sound seeing that they’re trying to cut down on overhead costs of production and distribution. You will find their music online way before it gets out as 4K, Blu-ray, or DVD weeks later.

On the flipside, on other fronts, physical media is still king and somehow seems to work. For instance, for music bands on tour, old is still gold. Carrying   CDs and vinyl pressed music turned out to be more profitable for the Carlifornia based Indie music band while on their tour through US in 2017. As it turns out the music band Sure Sure had a large audience looking to buy their CDs alongside the T-shirts and merchandise they had. According to Kevin Farzad, one of the band’s group member, they thought they wouldn’t sell CDs but that was not true. Even with the gloom going around physical media, the fading format still has a bit of life remaining.

So, what’s my final take? If you love movies and love having a physical CD to hand in to your friends when they come calling, then by all means keep it.  Take control of the movies you watch by having a real copy with you. And even while the sun seems to set on CDs, DVDs, 4K, and Ble-ray doesn’t mean you should give up on them too. If anything, they could be useful if you don’t have an internet connection to stream your movies on.

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