Thursday, 25 October 2012

Too soon, Apple

Yes, Apple, thin is sexy... but not always practical
Recently there has been an IT media frenzy on the subject of Apple's new iPad Mini. What's it for? Does it go against the better judgment of the late St. Steve? Does it make the iPod Touch redundant? In amongst all this, Apple has made another technology decision that I think in some ways is more important, yet it has hardly been noticed. The new version of their desktop all-in-one, the iMac, no longer has a CD/DVD drive.

I use an iMac and I love it. You only have to see one of those huge, shiny screens to get all excited. It is a superb product. And I probably would buy one without a CD/DVD drive - but I would resent it.

The reason they've done it is, as far as I can see, is primarily to make the computer wafer thin. It does look stunning because of this, but the fact is I can't get too excited about the difference in depth. In the end, I look at the front of my computer. As long as it doesn't stick out beyond the edge of the desk, I don't really care how deep it is. But I would miss the CD/DVD drive.

Apple would probably say it's just like losing your diskette drive. Do you miss that? Well, no, I don't. Not only does my iMac not have a diskette drive, neither did my previous Dell desktop which I used for three years prior to the iMac, and I never once missed it. And no doubt at some point it will be similar. But I think Apple has made the move too soon.

Okay, I can buy music on iTunes or from Amazon, but I still get a fair amount of my music on CDs. Sometimes it's a gift, sometimes it's something that isn't available as a download. And just occasionally I want to take a look at a DVD while at my desk. And then there's the writing side. Admittedly an external hard drive handles backup via my network, and I usually transfer files to other computers here via WiFi or memory stick. But I still find myself putting things like homebrewed music onto CD or DVD-ROM to provide it to someone outside the house. I don't know if it's still the case, but when one of my daughters did a Media A-level recently, she had to provide videos on disc as part of her course. A CD/DVD drive and burner is still useful.

Okay, yes, I could use an external drive. But I don't want to - it detracts from the whole point of having an all-in-one. And yes, eventually I will abandon CDs and DVDs entirely. But not yet, Apple, it's too soon.

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