After the graphics chip cooked itself for a second time, I’ve finally retired my 6 year old Acer and bought myself a new laptop. While deciding on the hardware configuration, one of the choices I had to make was what to put in the drive bays. A few years ago, it would have been very obvious that I wanted a DVD drive and a hard disk. Now however, Solid State drives look appealing as they become increasingly affordable. I couldn’t go for all three types of drive, as this particular laptop only has two bays.

So let’s weigh up what each drive offers:

SSD – fast! With windows installed on one of these a laptop boots in seconds.
HDD – still cheaper per gigabyte than an SSD and so more economical if you want large amounts of storage space.
DVD – required to load anything off a DVD or CD, obviously.

Ultimately it’s the DVD I decided to go without. This then is the first PC I’ve ever owned, without any sort of optical drive. It’s an odd feeling, like something fundamental is missing. CD-ROM drives were standard features in PCs over twenty years ago. DVD drives became commonplace in the 2000s. Now I have nowhere to insert one of those familiar shiny disks. I had to ask myself, though, how often do I actually need to do that? So much of our software and media comes over the internet these days. I can count on one hand the number of games I bought on physical disks in the past 5 years, and movies are so easy to get via Google Play (or your service of choice). I have another PC (desktop) for when I need to read off a disk, and I can make ISOs to put on the laptop if required.

Optical discs aren’t dead yet. We do however seem to be in the age of their long, slow decline. It does seem like an inefficient process, for the publisher to copy data to a little physical item, that the buyer then copies onto their own process. Surely better just to sent stuff directly over that one big network we call the internet. Times change, and being a PC user isn’t what it was in the 90s, or even the 2000s. We’ll just have to accept that, even if we at FFG towers use that latest technology to run 20 year old games.

It’s a bit of a self-indulgent joke for nerds in their 30s and upwards to point at a floppy disk and comment about modern teenagers not having a clue what that is. I wonder if in 10 years time we’ll be saying the same about CDs. Or maybe they’ll dimly remember Blu-rays as the last gasp of the optical disc, something their parents used before finally moving over to streaming everything off online services.