MacBook Air SuperDrive can only be used with MacBook Air

While the value of the MacBook Air might be up for debate, the $99 price of the portable USB SuperDrive that can be purchased as an add-on is not. However, those of us thinking we might be able to pick up a nice travel-sized SuperDrive on the cheap will have to look elsewhere.

For some reason, Apple has decided to hobble the MacBook Air SuperDrive. Despite being a USB device which should work with any Mac or even PC, it will only work with the MacBook Air. A call in to Apple has confirmed that the system requirements listed online are correct, and a MacBook Air is required to use the drive. (There go our dreams of using it with our Apple TV's USB port).

This of course sucks. We'd like to think that somehow Apple has discounted the SuperDrive so low that it can only recoup its costs by subsidizing it with MacBook Air purchases, but since a SuperDrive can't cost Apple more than $30 to make, we are left thinking WTF? The only thing we can figure is that Apple's bizarre choice to continue to offer a Combo Drive model on the MacBook has proven so successful in forcing people to fork over an extra $200 to get a MacBook with a SuperDrive that they don't want to risk cannibalizing those sales.

There are other companies that make USB powered DVD burners, completely bus powered by standard USB. See here, here, and here. Some offer AC power adapters that allows them to burn faster, but bus-powered burners are relatively common now.

We're not sure how Apple has gone about implementing this "feature" – whether through software drivers exclusive to the MacBook Air or through some hardware hack on the SuperDrive end – so we'll have to wait 2 weeks to see if some resourceful folks can find a way around this.

News source: Macenstein

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Um... ya? Apple's powering the entire SuperDrive via a single USB instead of a seperate power brick or two USB ports. It's kind of non-standard and most USB ports don't output that much power.

The other external, USB-powered drives in that article run on two USB ports, while Apple's runs on just the one super-charged USB port. If you plug it in to another computer, how is it going to be powered? Apple designed the MacBook Air SuperDrive to work with the MacBook Air. (I wonder if the name of the drive gave it away?)

Come to think of it, since the new Apple keyboard draws enough power from the iMac's USB port to power both USB 2 ports on it, I wonder if you could hook up the Apple keyboard to the MacBook Air and subsequently use one of those external drives that uses two USB ports? Then you can just tear apart the keyboard and shorten the wires so that you essentially get a USB splitter that gives full power to both ports, or wait for a 3rd party peripheral to do the same.

markjensen said,
Ummm... If it supplied higher voltage. Higher current capacity is totally different and won't destroy anything.

Well, I was referring to when the inevitable power-switching glitch happens.

GreyWolfSC said,

Well, I was referring to when the inevitable power-switching glitch happens. :)

I am sure there's a lot of QA done to these power devices. Power-switching glitch? You mean noise, thermal noise, current leakage, voltage spikes, or shoot-through? I assume Apple's QA and Test Engineers should have that taken care of.

kouhii00 said,

I am sure there's a lot of QA done to these power devices. Power-switching glitch? You mean noise, thermal noise, current leakage, voltage spikes, or shoot-through? I assume Apple's QA and Test Engineers should have that taken care of.

One would assume they paid attention to virii on iPods, exploding batteries, and flaming mag-power connectors, too, eh?

Sony's equivalent to the MBA's external SuperDrive costs $399.99... so not only can you spend more for Sony's under-powered, smaller-screened version of the MBA ($3699), but you can drop an extra $300 getting the external DVD drive.

kraized said,
Sony's equivalent to the MBA's external SuperDrive costs $399.99... so not only can you spend more for Sony's under-powered, smaller-screened version of the MBA ($3699), but you can drop an extra $300 getting the external DVD drive.

...and? Just buy a generic one for the Sony... They have those at Wal-Mart. Now, about the MBA alternative?

How convenient for Apple that the technology used is only compattible with their own products.
Oh well, serves anyone who's stupid enough to buy one of these right for having too much money.

bibutteryboy said,
I just sit and giggle.
This really wouldn't be such an issue if the mac fanboys would have kept their mouths shut before the keynote instead of saying how great Jobs and his company were going to be.
that's why...
I just sit and giggle
I predict the next mac product will be
icrow.....mmmmm tastes yummy

Till that happens I suppose we'll just have to sit and just laugh at you instead

evo_spook said,

Till that happens I suppose we'll just have to sit and just laugh at you instead


It's pretty much been served already, did you miss it?

Haha, this is awesome. Apple is making exactly the same mistake IBM made years and years ago (and you know how often you hear "IBM-compatible" these days). Proprietary hardware = long term disaster. Go go Apple!

A Clockwork Lime said,
Haha, this is awesome. Apple is making exactly the same mistake IBM made years and years ago (and you know how often you hear "IBM-compatible" these days). Proprietary hardware = long term disaster. Go go Apple!

It's even worse now that they run the same hardware as the rest of the industry. Now the only thing truly proprietary in a Mac is the boot firmware and the cipher key in the TPM chip...

I love your user name! (really! no sarcasm)
Did you know it still has the meaning of "Clockwork Orange" though?

I should add that max rating is 1 thing, the amount of current the device draws is another. Assume Ipods use regular usb to power on/charge, it should be ok.

no, if the voltage was higher then yeah it woudl, but devices will only draw what current they need, if the port had less current than the device needed then yeah somethig woudl fry..but if the USB port delivers more current than is needed then no problems at all

As other have stated, there wouldn't be an issue with connecting other devices to the port because the port is limited to 5V with a variable amount of current. On the other hand, if it is true that the MacBook Air SuperDrive needs more power, than plugging it into an "underpowered" USB port on normal computers could cause damage. I doubt that Apple would risk it, and have probably built in some safety mechanisms.

And the strange thing is if they do (even if they don't include the lacking options*) you'll be all over it in praise.


But its not the lacking things that makes you mouth of about this items, its the logo, they could have everything and you'd still find something wrong.

You must be really hurting that the drive that you get for the Air onlyworks with the Air, my that really is a big deal

evo_spook said,
And the strange thing is if they do (even if they don't include the lacking options*) you'll be all over it in praise.


But its not the lacking things that makes you mouth of about this items, its the logo, they could have everything and you'd still find something wrong.

You must be really hurting that the drive that you get for the Air onlyworks with the Air, my that really is a big deal

when r u gonna realise if it was any other laptop with(without) these features, we would complain just as much...

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