CD, DVD, Blu-Ray and the Inevitable Decline of Optical Media [Guest Post]

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Some time ago PC manufacturers stopped putting Floppy Disk Drives into new PCs that were shipped. It was an economical decision, with Dell being the ones spearheading the charge. People were inserting devices into the 3.5” FDD slot that were simply not intended to go there. The warranty overhead was becoming larger as the moving parts were more susceptible to failure.

CD drive lens

The lens of a compact disc drive and its associated mechanism (Image by Ioan Sameli on Wikipedia)

The other thing that used to occur with the old floppy drives is that the metal head on the 3.5” disks would become loose and then get stuck in the drive. Either way, we were all saved by the eventual arrival of CD and DVD media.  Not only could we save the amount of data equal to hundreds or thousands of floppy disks, but the media was more robust and long lasting. It was to be the way of the future.

Fast forward to today and I for one, am looking forwards to the eventual demise of CD and DVD media. It was certainly better than its predecessor but CDs and DVDs are prone to scratching which can cause skipping. Also there are concerns with the quality of manufacture of CDs and DVDs. Labelling them can also be a concern. The massive speed at which they spin can create inertial problems if they are labelled with a sticker that is not perfectly circular.

CD/DVD drive is also now one of the most likely parts to fail in a computer. It is prone to user damage as well if, for example, the wrong person decides to use it as a cup holder.

The big computer manufacturers must be looking intently forwards to the day they can easily remove these devices from computers altogether.

The main thing stopping this happening now is the media price of putting software on USB devices. However, anyone who can remember back to when CDs and DVDs were in the early days, these cost about $10 each as well. So we’re quickly reaching a point where flash drive technology will be used in every case where a CD or DVD was previously used.

USB slots don’t have moving parts in them and are quite robust for the most part. They certainly won’t break nearly as often as optical drives do.

There have already been some steps in the entertainment market to move media away from optical media and towards cheap data cards.

It’s almost as if technology has gone full circle in removable media. Some time back we used to have data on cartridges, like in the Atari 2600 systems. Simply add ‘writeable’ to the list of features and we’re essentially back to cartridge technology. Nintendo had been doing the right thing all along.

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