Apple Patent: Thinner MacBook Pro with Optical Drive

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One way to make the MacBook line thinner is to omit the optical drive, as with the MacBook Air. However, a new Apple patent reveals that the company is also thinking about how to reduce the thickness of a MacBook Pro that keeps its optical drive.

According to Patently Apple on Thursday, Apple has produced a patent that bypasses the traditional technique to secure the optical disk to the turntable. This traditional technique uses up more vertical space, the z-axis, than is desirable. Apple’s patent describes a technique using magnetism to hold and center the optical disc and is, thereby, much thinner on the z-axis.

The ultra-thin MacBook Air has put the PC world in a tizzy because it has no optical drive, and some believe that Apple will deprecate optical drives for all future Macs. It has also been predicted that the next generation MacBook Pros will also ship without an optical drive. One result of all this has been Intel’s US$300M Ultrabook project designed to ignite PC makers into new ways of thinking.

Patently Apple

Source: Patently Apple

This patent doesn’t mean that Apple will ship such a product, as we all know, but it does suggest that Apple is keeping its options open for those mobile customers who will still need good old-fashioned DVDs, but want a stylishly thin MacBook Pro.

Just which direction Apple will take, no one knows for sure. But it’s good to see that Apple is thinking about user needs rather than abruptly leaving a potentially useful technology in the dust.

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Someone enlighten me, are solid state drives still that far off from replacing optical discs?

John Martellaro

These are separate issues.  The next generation MacBook Pros may well come with a solid state, NAND flash, internal boot drive, like the MacBook Air. This could replace a rotating hard disk or be the only option.

However, for those people who travel, need to burn a DVD as part of their creative process, or need to read a DVD, an optical drive can often be essential.  Even the MBA can access a remote optical drive on another Mac if needed.

Small USB flash drives essentially replace the CD/DVD—except when you need to read a legacy plastic disc.

Does that help?


Small USB flash drives essentially replace the CD/DVD?except when you need to read a legacy plastic disc.

Or when you want to burn a DVD for TV, or CD for a car. Again both legacy uses.  But I do occasionally burn DVDs of short movies I or a friend has made, since most people have DVD players on their TV and few have AppleTVs.

Plus DVDs are meant to be one-shot and giveaway.  USB sticks still cost enough that I won’t give one away just to distribute a single piece of media.  The cost is close, it’s <$10 now, but it isn’t $1-2.


I guess I really meant flash drives.  Will they soon replace optical discs as a means of distributing content?  Or is blu-ray already the end of the line as everything will just be downloads after that?

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