Mac laptop with optical drive

Apple wasn't the first company to exclude a disc drive from its machines, though Apple's move came at a time when many PC competitors were aiming to upgrade the disc drives on notebooks from DVD readers to drives that could read high-definition discs. For Apple, which was making an increasingly large amount of money selling movies and TV shows through iTunes, this never made much sense.

9 Best External DVD Drives in - For Windows and Mac - The Tech Lounge

Some of the initial notebooks with those drives were not only big but also required high-end hardware that ballooned costs. Since the Air, ditching optical drives has led to slimmer and svelter devices all around. Last year's iMac redesign was one of the most dramatic. By removing the drive and using new manufacturing technology, the once boxy machine was cut down by 40 percent. Its sides were tapered down into a 5mm edge, which is close to the thinnest part of the newest MacBook Air.

The same goes with the new Mac Pro, which Apple says is one eighth the volume of the previous generation. That change was not just the optical drive but changes to other components as well, like moving from hard drives to flash storage, and a redesigned cooling system that pulls air through a hollowed out central core.

Does MacBook Air Have A CD Drive?

Like the original Air, all that comes at a price. The new Mac Pro is indicative of a direction Apple started back in but never quite perfected, which is offering future expandability on its nearly tinker-proof notebooks. That's not a new thing for computing, but it's been limited somewhat by the ports Apple's gone with. Many, like Firewire and ExpressCard were offered up only on the higher end products, and phased out of the consumer machines. That consolidated ports to the point where Apple made a sister product -- its now languishing Thunderbolt Display -- that requires only one jack on a computer to supply it with an Internet connection, USB, and visual information.

The only thing missing is enough power to run the computer, something that could change with future chips, and versions of Thunderbolt. The next generation of the technology, Thunderbolt 2, is now starting to make its way into the Mac Pro and MacBook Pros, and promises even faster speeds. So as the disc drive has disappeared, Thunderbolt has flourished among Macs. PC makers, however, have opted for USB 3. In hindsight, it seems painfully obvious that trimming drives, and thus size, would help other parts of Apple's business.

Use the CD or DVD drive from another computer with your Mac

Between making both its gadgets and its packaging smaller, the company can get more product to places in one shipment. For something like the iPhone which, to be fair, never had a disc drive , that's resulted in a 60 percent increase in the number of boxes Apple can ship versus the one it made in The big question going forward is what else can be cut to trim size? Products like the iPhone and iPad have shown that something as basic as a keyboard or mouse pad can be successfully reimagined as one big screen.

Perhaps just as big of a jump could happen with Apple's computers as well.

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  • Use an External Optical Drive.

Okay, this may seem a little obvious, but the first thing you'll need is an external DVD drive. Everyone I know that's nervous about getting an ultrabook or MacBook Air is worried about one thing: watching movies while on-the-go, since no one wants to lug around an external drive with them. Luckily, you have a much better option: ripping those DVDs to your hard drive as movie files.

It's very easy to do, and when you're done, you'll be able to watch your movies on a plane, in a coffee shop, or wherever you go.

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Not only will you be able to buy that ultra-thin laptop which is easier to travel with , but watching a movie file will save your laptop's battery, too. You have a few options when it comes to ripping DVDs. It takes a bit of initial setup and a longer time to rip, but you'll be able to play the movies on anything, even your smartphone or tablet, and they won't take up a ton of space.

Alternatively, you can use a program called MakeMKV , which is much faster and easier to use, but the files will take up much more space, and you'll need a program like VLC to play them. If you have the space to spare, though, MakeMKV is a fantastic, easy option. Lastly, if you don't already have one, you may want to get yourself a flash drive.

1. Use An External Disc Drive

It's the perfect way to share media with your friends, store one or two of those movies you just ripped for the plane ride, or even boot into Linux , if you ever need to. If you find you're burning CDs often, a flash drive will likely do a much better job of storing that data for you, so it's worth spending a couple bucks on one.

It may take some getting used to at first, but you might be surprised at how easy it is to survive without a DVD drive in your computer—plus, you'll then be able to enjoy all the other benefits of a light, ultra-thin laptop. Got any other tips for living without a disc drive? Share them with us in the comments. Emailable Tech Support is a series of easy-to-share guides for the less tech savvy people in your life.