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Should Apple omit the internal optical drive in a possible sub-notebook?


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View Poll Results: Would you prefer an internal or external optical drive?
Internal 39 38.24%
External 45 44.12%
Beer 18 17.65%
Voters: 102. You may not vote on this poll

Should Apple omit the internal optical drive in a possible sub-notebook?
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Mugge
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2007-08-03, 10:15

As a tangent to the Mac related announcement thread I hereby start a poll/thread on whether a possible sub-notebook form Apple should be with or without an internal optical drive.
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pscates2.0
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2007-08-03, 10:17

With.
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chucker
 
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2007-08-03, 10:22

Here goes another reminder that this is for a subnotebook. The poll has nothing to do with the MacBook, MacBook Pro or any other current Mac line. It's not going to affect current or future Macs in those lines.
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pscates2.0
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2007-08-03, 10:30

I'm aware of all that, thanks. And I still say with.
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zsummers
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2007-08-03, 10:36

I voted for external (once upon a time I started a thread about that...). But you made me choose between beer and external. Not fair, man... not fair.
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turtle
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2007-08-03, 10:39

I'm for it keeping the optical drive or being created with one in this case.
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Wyatt
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2007-08-03, 10:41

Grr! The Intarwebs ate my post!

Oh well, it didn't really say much.

I voted beer, basically because I can understand both sides of the argument. Plus, this isn't a product that would appeal to me. My 13" MacBook is starting to feel too small (although I still think it's the perfect size to take on the road, at least for me).

Twitter: bwyatt | Minecraft: bwyatt_IN
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zippy
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2007-08-03, 11:11

Definitely internal. I want a small notebook computer, not a large PDA.
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Ryan
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2007-08-03, 11:19

I know everyone here is tired of listening to me say this (), but I think that Apple should just take the 12" PowerBook, upgrade it to match the MacBook Pro's specs, remove the optical drive, add in an ExpressCard slot, and fill the remaining space with more battery. Then, include a small, bus-powered Superdrive with it. For those times when you need an optical drive, you have a slim, convenient external. For the rest of the time, leave at your desk.

(Has anyone else noticed the built-in dictionary doesn't think Superdrive is spelled wrong? )
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Dovek916
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2007-08-03, 11:19

Internal! If apple released a sub-notebook w/o an optical drive it would be like how verizon disabled bluetooth on some of their phones, it would needlessly cripple the product

Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.
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Robo
Formerly Roboman, still
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2007-08-03, 11:19

I think it depends. If an internal drive really wouldn't add any size or weight, then sure, why not.

But I'm pretty sure that isn't the case.

I vote external - preferably, a super-sleek, bus-powered, Apple-designed external.

and i guess i've known it all along / the truth is, you have to be soft to be strong
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Robo
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2007-08-03, 11:21

Quote:
Originally Posted by dovek916 View Post
Internal! If apple released a sub-notebook w/o an optical drive it would be like how verizon disabled bluetooth on some of their phones, it would needlessly cripple the product
Um, it wouldn't needlessly cripple the product, if said product would be lighter and thinner as a result...

"Needlessly cripple" would be if the notebook actually had an internal optical drive, and Apple just prevented users from using it.

and i guess i've known it all along / the truth is, you have to be soft to be strong
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zippy
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2007-08-03, 11:28

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roboman View Post
I think it depends. If an internal drive really wouldn't add any size or weight, then sure, why not.

But I'm pretty sure that isn't the case.

I vote external - preferably, a super-sleek, bus-powered, Apple-designed external.
See, I'm convinced that eliminating the internal optical really won't make the unit much lighter or smaller, nor will they be able to boost performance or battery life substantially enough to make a difference. There's only so many processor selections that can fit in a case that small and not burn a hole through your table. And face it, Apple has been challenged enough in this area with their larger notebooks that I don't think it's wise for them to 'push the envelope' anymore.

As I said in another thread, if someone can point me to a sub-compact notebook that is on par with the Sony TX or TZ series ala size and weight, but that has any improvements in battery/processing by eliminating the optical drive, then I may believe it. I don't think such a product exists.

Do you know where children get all of their energy? - They suck it right out of their parents!
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kscherer
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2007-08-03, 11:55

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mugge View Post
As a tangent to the Mac related announcement thread I hereby start a poll/thread on whether a possible sub-notebook form Apple should be with or without an internal optical drive.
Eliminating the optical would be a bad idea. Apple could do a docking station/portable drive better than anyone, but I think it would backfire. Optical is now an expectation.

However, there are now 32GB Express Cards on the market and flash drives are getting nothing but bigger and cheaper, so I have mixed feelings. I would love to have a tiny little notebook, super-slim, powerful, etc. and could do without the optical, but others out there who rely on it would gripe.

So I vote no.

Boise State! … Boise State! … Boise State!

Last edited by kscherer : 2007-08-03 at 11:55. Reason: But in reality, I voted for beer!
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dead_stars
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2007-08-03, 11:57

For a subnotebook my vote is for no internal. I would love to have a lighter MB to use on the sofa for IM and You Tube nonsense while watching a late night baseball game (like last night!).

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pscates2.0
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2007-08-03, 12:17

My thoughts are this (I'm sure everyone is hunched over in breathless anticipation ):

A subnotebook for Apple is an odd-duck kinda thing.

I'm not entirely convinced it would be a raging hit because it's a niche already in a niche of a niche: Mac users > Mac notebook users > Mac notebook users who'd buy a subnotebook.

Just seems so many levels removed from "a sure thing" to me.

Not saying a bunch of folks here wouldn't buy it. But "a bunch of folks here" (and Ars, etc.) aren't a huge sliver of the Mac population, IMO.

So Apple can do one of several things, each with their positive and negative points (but common sense and business-wise, some seem a little more likely and grounded than others):

1. Realize 13" is as small as they want to go, and simply give us as small and slim of a 13" MacBook Pro as they can (for those who really like their silver, dedicated graphics, having the world "Pro" in their computer's name and to replace the beloved 12" PowerBook with something equally small and cute but even more powerful and kick-ass, etc.). But it will have an optical drive onboard, just like every other Mac does. Sorry, that's just how it is.

2. Take a chance and create a true groundbreaking 10-11" subnotebook, just like Sony and others. Something with all the latest specs and tech (Santa Rosa, LED display, flash drive, etc.). And to show they're really listening to the geeks, they'll leave off the optical drive, put a honkin' battery and/or CPU/GPU in there and do a really neat thing for $2,199 that nobody can afford and, within 12-18 months it'll join the ranks of the G4 Cube and iPod Hi-Fi as "expensive shit nobody really bought or cared about, despite the hype...too limited for most, too expensive for all but the diehards, wasn't impressive enough for the spec whores".

3. Screw #1 and #2 above, and, instead, do something really unique and jaw-dropping that falls between an iPhone and a MacBook...the "t" word, running OS X, allows for full-on apps (iWork and iLife, Office, etc.) to be installed. A media/work device, Multi-Touch enabled (and with virtual keyboard and other controls, just like iPhone), but more Mac OS X-ish than iPhone: you can print with it, connect things to it (scanners, cameras, etc.). More of a full-on Mac in performance and capabilties, but more like an iPhone in underlying technology, navigation, smallness (we're talking something in the 8x10" range...smaller than any subnotebook out there, but as powerful and capable as a MacBook; it's just not a notebook in the traditional sense).

That is more "the Apple way", IMO ("thinking different", zagging when we zig, being the first to do a particular, already-existing type of product "right", like they did with mp3 players and phones, etc.), and I can see them doing #3 before I see them doing #2.

But, living in the real world, my money is on #1. The thought of something like #3 excites me to no end, and, frankly, I don't give two flying damns about #2.

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kscherer
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2007-08-03, 12:30

Good post, Paul, and I agree with you almost completely. I'd buy #3! #2 if it was really, really cool. But I already have a 12" PB, so I don't concern myself with #1, much.

Boise State! … Boise State! … Boise State!
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zippy
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2007-08-03, 13:02

#3 kind of exists already in the Samsung Q1, though of course without all the Apple-y goodness. I just finished setting one of these up for one of our employees - it will replace his old notebook and is old Compaq iPaq, in one device. It could stand to be beefed up a bit, but I'm not sure they could get much more umpf in their and keep it as small and light as it is.

One annoyance I have with it though is.... it lacks an internal optical drive.

For what this user needs, he'll generally be OK without it. And given the fact that it is only a 7" screen, the addition of an internal optical drive would be a noticeable addition to the size and weight.

But this really is a different beast than a notebook computer, and it's intended useage would seem different to me as a result.

In our case, the unit is necessary as a handheld for highly mobile use - inspections and such, filling out forms as you go, but no heavy typing. Here, the touch screen excels at things like drop down selections.

Then back at the hotel, or elsewhere, it has a folio style case that you snap it into with an ultra thin keyboard. That way he can go back and type up detailed reports, answer email, and that kind of thing - mimicking the notebook functions.



If we keep this in the realm of 'notebook', then a sub-compact notebook should be, at least to my thinking, a full-featured notebook, just as small and light as you can make it.

Expand to other category devices, like pscates' dreamy little #3, then I can see forgoing things like the optical drive because I wouldn't plan on using the device like a traditional computer.

Do you know where children get all of their energy? - They suck it right out of their parents!
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zsummers
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2007-08-03, 13:08

Quote:
Originally Posted by zippy View Post
See, I'm convinced that eliminating the internal optical really won't make the unit much lighter or smaller, nor will they be able to boost performance or battery life substantially enough to make a difference. There's only so many processor selections that can fit in a case that small and not burn a hole through your table. And face it, Apple has been challenged enough in this area with their larger notebooks that I don't think it's wise for them to 'push the envelope' anymore.

As I said in another thread, if someone can point me to a sub-compact notebook that is on par with the Sony TX or TZ series ala size and weight, but that has any improvements in battery/processing by eliminating the optical drive, then I may believe it. I don't think such a product exists.
I don't care about lighter and smaller. Ryan's description makes me want to wet my drawers. Start with the old PB 12." Take out the internal, add far more battery, an Express Card slot, and maybe another USB or Firewire port. Then stop and make me very, very happy.

Could it maybe come down to 1" thick? Maybe--or very close. Could it maybe come down to th 4-5 pound range? Maybe--but don't do it at the battery's expense. Optical drives aren't as heavy as batteries, so I'd hate to see Apple take out the optical without an increase in battery, just to keep it lighter. Of course, that's almost certainly what Jobs would do. "Guys. This thing is amazing. It's onl 0.8" thick, it weights only 3.2 pounds, still has a 12" screen, oh, and by the way, the battery still only lasts three hours".

*Sigh.* I can always dream.

"How could you falter / when you're the Rock of Gibralter? / I had to get off the boat so I could walk on water. / This ain't no tall order. / This is nothing to me. / Difficult takes a day. / Impossible takes a week."
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zippy
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2007-08-03, 13:14

Quote:
Originally Posted by zsummers View Post
I don't care about lighter and smaller. Ryan's description makes me want to wet my drawers. Start with the old PB 12." Take out the internal, add far more battery, an Express Card slot, and maybe another USB or Firewire port. Then stop and make me very, very happy.

Could it maybe come down to 1" thick? Maybe--or very close. Could it maybe come down to th 4-5 pound range? Maybe--but don't do it at the battery's expense. Optical drives aren't as heavy as batteries, so I'd hate to see Apple take out the optical without an increase in battery, just to keep it lighter. Of course, that's almost certainly what Jobs would do. "Guys. This thing is amazing. It's onl 0.8" thick, it weights only 3.2 pounds, still has a 12" screen, oh, and by the way, the battery still only lasts three hours".

*Sigh.* I can always dream.
If you don't care about smaller and lighter, then why do you care at all about a sub-notebook?
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zsummers
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2007-08-03, 13:30

Quote:
Originally Posted by zippy View Post
If you don't care about smaller and lighter, then why do you care at all about a sub-notebook?
Perhaps the clearest way for me to explain is to say that for me and (I think) a lot of potential subnotebook customers, having a very small computer without much battery life is pointless. The point of smallness is portability. And part of being portable is not being tethered to an outlet. I consider it more important to be small with good battery than small with the ability to use an optical drive (who does that on the fly?).

You make a good point, though. I do care about smaller and lighter--but only smaller and lighter than the current line-up. I don't technically need a subnotebook.

Essentially, though, the 12" was a subnotebook (if not in literal terms)--or would be in the current line up of 13", 15" & 17" machines. But it may well be the case that Apple could take it down to 11" or even 10" & close to an inch thick (I believe the 12" PB was 1.08" thick) without greatly affecting the heat dissipation. My current 15" is an inch thick, for instance, and the processor isn't spreading a great deal of heat laterally--in fact, the optical drive does very little in dissipating heat on this machine.

I was shocked when digging around in my old 12" PB how much of the computer was the optical drive. Volume-wise, it was close to 1/5 to 1/4 of the machine. My point is basically that the necessary heat-dissipation could still happen in a somewhat smaller, PB-like machine without an optical drive, while upping battery and adding a few extra features--close enough to a subnotebook for me. But I don't really want a 9", 0.5" thick machine with 3.5 hours of battery life and no optical drive.

"How could you falter / when you're the Rock of Gibralter? / I had to get off the boat so I could walk on water. / This ain't no tall order. / This is nothing to me. / Difficult takes a day. / Impossible takes a week."
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Mugge
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2007-08-03, 13:45

Quote:
Originally Posted by zsummers View Post
Perhaps the clearest way for me to explain is to say that for me and (I think) a lot of potential subnotebook customers, having a very small computer without much battery life is pointless. The point of smallness is portability. And part of being portable is not being tethered to an outlet. I consider it more important to be small with good battery than small with the ability to use an optical drive (who does that on the fly?).

You make a good point, though. I do care about smaller and lighter--but only smaller and lighter than the current line-up. I don't technically need a subnotebook.

Essentially, though, the 12" was a subnotebook (if not in literal terms)--or would be in the current line up of 13", 15" & 17" machines. But it may well be the case that Apple could take it down to 11" or even 10" & close to an inch thick (I believe the 12" PB was 1.08" thick) without greatly affecting the heat dissipation. My current 15" is an inch thick, for instance, and the processor isn't spreading a great deal of heat laterally--in fact, the optical drive does very little in dissipating heat on this machine.

I was shocked when digging around in my old 12" PB how much of the computer was the optical drive. Volume-wise, it was close to 1/5 to 1/4 of the machine. My point is basically that the necessary heat-dissipation could still happen in a somewhat smaller, PB-like machine without an optical drive, while upping battery and adding a few extra features--close enough to a subnotebook for me. But I don't really want a 9", 0.5" thick machine with 3.5 hours of battery life and no optical drive.
My thoughts exactly.

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turbulentfurball
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2007-08-03, 13:50

I voted external. However, I think the external drive *must* be bundled with the subnotebook. I could just imagine it.... MacBookNano $1299. Oh, and if you want to install MS Office on it, that'll be another $100 for an optical drive. No thanks.
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Windowsrookie
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2007-08-03, 13:52

More Battery > internal drive.
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rasmits
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2007-08-03, 13:56

Yes, WR is right.

Subnotebooks, by nature, make sacrifices for battery life and ultra-portability. If you want/need an optical drive at all times then you shouldn't be getting a subnotebook, in my opinion.

You had me at asl
.......
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zippy
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2007-08-03, 14:20

Quote:
Originally Posted by zsummers View Post
Perhaps the clearest way for me to explain is to say that for me and (I think) a lot of potential subnotebook customers, having a very small computer without much battery life is pointless. The point of smallness is portability. And part of being portable is not being tethered to an outlet. I consider it more important to be small with good battery than small with the ability to use an optical drive (who does that on the fly?).

You make a good point, though. I do care about smaller and lighter--but only smaller and lighter than the current line-up. I don't technically need a subnotebook.

Essentially, though, the 12" was a subnotebook (if not in literal terms)--or would be in the current line up of 13", 15" & 17" machines. But it may well be the case that Apple could take it down to 11" or even 10" & close to an inch thick (I believe the 12" PB was 1.08" thick) without greatly affecting the heat dissipation. My current 15" is an inch thick, for instance, and the processor isn't spreading a great deal of heat laterally--in fact, the optical drive does very little in dissipating heat on this machine.

I was shocked when digging around in my old 12" PB how much of the computer was the optical drive. Volume-wise, it was close to 1/5 to 1/4 of the machine. My point is basically that the necessary heat-dissipation could still happen in a somewhat smaller, PB-like machine without an optical drive, while upping battery and adding a few extra features--close enough to a subnotebook for me. But I don't really want a 9", 0.5" thick machine with 3.5 hours of battery life and no optical drive.
I don't think you'll get as much of an improvement in battery life as you are all hoping by eliminating the optical drive. The best ways to improve battery life is going to be: scaling back the processor, and maybe switching to Flash based drives.

Many people here keep mentioning, or implying, that if they eliminate the optical drive, they could suddenly up the processor, and or battery life. Those two things are at odds with one another, so you're going to have to pick one at best.

Now, factor in all the heat issues with the current MBPs and MBs, do you really think Apple is going to fair better with a smaller shell? They'd be lucky to get even the current MB processors in there. There are special processors designed for this kind of device, and Apple will most likely use those. Same as Sony.

As for battery, Sony advertises 4 to 7.5 hours on their TZs both with hard drives and flash based (interesting that the flash based aren't higher IMO) and 4 to 10 hours on the TXs. That's a fairly decent range, especially on the TXs. The TZs suffer a bit because they have beefier processors. More would be great, sure, but batteries get heavy quickly and you don't want to have an amazingly small notebook that is abnormally heavy for it's size. Any battery occupying the vacated space of an optical drive would be exponentially heavier than the optical drive was.

Personally, I'd be happy with something in the 3 to 3.5 lb category, and if by some miracle it could be less than 3, that's great.

I don't think we'll ever agree here, so it's pointless to keep going round and round. I'll just take comfort in my belief that Steve Jobs agrees with me - a belief that I think is supported by Apples product history.

Do you know where children get all of their energy? - They suck it right out of their parents!
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zippy
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2007-08-03, 14:25

Quote:
Originally Posted by rasmits View Post
Yes, WR is right.

Subnotebooks, by nature, make sacrifices for battery life and ultra-portability. If you want/need an optical drive at all times then you shouldn't be getting a subnotebook, in my opinion.
Yes, subcompact notebooks make sacrifices on battery life, and processor power. They do not, however, usually make sacrifices on actually usability or features. For that we have PDAs.

If you don't want an optical drive on your really small notebook, you shouldn't be getting one. You should be getting a PDA or a smart phone. IMO

Do you know where children get all of their energy? - They suck it right out of their parents!
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Windowsrookie
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2007-08-03, 14:25

Quote:
Originally Posted by zippy View Post
I don't think you'll get as much of an improvement in battery life as you are all hoping by eliminating the optical drive. The best ways to improve battery life is going to be: scaling back the processor, and maybe switching to Flash based drives.
No, the best way would be to remove the optical drive and use the space for a bigger battery like we've been saying.
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Windowsrookie
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2007-08-03, 14:27

Quote:
Originally Posted by zippy View Post
Yes, subcompact notebooks make sacrifices on battery life, and processor power. They do not, however, usually make sacrifices on actually usability or features. For that we have PDAs.

If you don't want an optical drive on your really small notebook, you shouldn't be getting one. You should be getting a PDA or a smart phone. IMO
No, you should be getting an Optical Driveless Mac.

PDAs don't run OS X or have 80GB+ HD's or high resolution screens.
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zippy
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2007-08-03, 14:28

Quote:
Originally Posted by Windowsrookie View Post
No, the best way would be to remove the optical drive and use the space for a bigger battery like we've been saying.
Which I still don't think will give you as much of a performance boost as you are all dreaming. Those optical drives may be large in length and width, but their pretty damn skinny. You're probably not going to even get an additional cell on that battery.

I hope the lack of optical drive is worth that additional 15 minutes run time.

Do you know where children get all of their energy? - They suck it right out of their parents!
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