Sony to shut down optical disc drive division

The era of PCs having some kind of optical disc drive installed may be slowly coming to an end. One of the biggest makers of such drives, Sony, has announced it is getting out of the business in the next few months.

According to a Japan Times story, the Sony Optiarc subsidiary will stop making disc drives in November and the entire division will shut down in March 2013. The subsidiary is expected to be liquidated. Sony said the decision was due to higher competition from other companies that have sent prices for optical disc drives down to record low numbers.

It's more than possible that other disc drive makers could follow in Sony's wake. We have certainly seen more notebooks being released without an internal disc drive.

While most desktops still ship with an included DVD or Blu-Ray drive, we have also seen the rise of downloadable software as a viable alternative to purchasing software on a disk. While Windows 7 allows users to play DVD movies with its Windows Media Player, Microsoft has removed that feature from the basic version of Windows 8, although it is restored when people purchase the optional Windows Media Center add on.

Source: Japan Times | Image via Sony

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I for now will always need a optical drive.. I had a Sony one once.. It was the only one that let me down, it died after only a few months, and made my then new Windows xp disk spin so fast it ripped it nearly in two lol.. I had to turn the pc off at the mains to stop it spinning lol.. Never had that issue again.. It would simply not stop even on pressing the reset button Bad Sony Drive

Mike Frett said,
Closet full, from top to bottom with CD/DVD etc. I don't see myself without an Optical in any future.

What is the advantage of CD/DVD over a HDD? A HDD has better GB to dollar value, more resistant to surface damage than discs, faster read/write time (up to 10 Gb/s throughput via Thunderbolt), etc., and if you connect them to the network, you make their content easily searchable and available from anywhere.

a0me said,

What is the advantage of CD/DVD over a HDD? A HDD has better GB to dollar value, more resistant to surface damage than discs, faster read/write time (up to 10 Gb/s throughput via Thunderbolt), etc., and if you connect them to the network, you make their content easily searchable and available from anywhere.
First off, nobody uses Thunderbolt but you. It failed like a lead balloon going over a house.

Now, what's the advantage? Long-term storage. Tell me: if I were to say, dip that HDD in water or hook a car battery up to it; what do you propose the outcome of that is? How about a USB stick that just randomly dies after a year?

KCRic said,
First off, nobody uses Thunderbolt but you. It failed like a lead balloon going over a house.

Failed? The standard was only introduced by Intel about a year ago and is supported by many peripherals from major manufacturers such as Seagate, Western Digital, Apple, Drobo, Gigabyte, LaCie, elgato, CalDigit, Sonnos, etc... Sure it's nowhere as common as USB, but then again, USB 3 has been around for 5 years and USB 2 for a lot longer. Not sure what you're trying to say here, or maybe you just hate Intel?

Now, what's the advantage? Long-term storage. Tell me: if I were to say, dip that HDD in water or hook a car battery up to it; what do you propose the outcome of that is? How about a USB stick that just randomly dies after a year?

Long-term storage on... a disc? You've gotta be kidding, right? Something that can be scratched, snapped in half extremely easily, and I won't even mention disc rot...
Thanks for the laugh.

Mike Frett said,
Closet full, from top to bottom with CD/DVD etc. I don't see myself without an Optical in any future.

The good old days of impulse buying at best buy and movie stop got the better of my wallet, not a closets worth, but a nice floor to ceiling 4' wide shelf. I had to do away with a lot of CD cases due to lots of moving and less and less space to house my collection. I always have the option to rip my music at a higher rate, or I guess I can just give all the money to the various companies and buy all of my 150GB+ collection all over again

@a0me
Why dont you just let the Frett be with his collection. Your probably the same guy that'll tell someone who owns a classic console to throw out his still working mint condition nes/sega and all of the game because he can just get a usb controller and some roms and play them on pc

mrdumbass said,

The good old days of impulse buying at best buy and movie stop got the better of my wallet, not a closets worth, but a nice floor to ceiling 4' wide shelf. I had to do away with a lot of CD cases due to lots of moving and less and less space to house my collection. I always have the option to rip my music at a higher rate, or I guess I can just give all the money to the various companies and buy all of my 150GB+ collection all over again

@a0me
Why dont you just let the Frett be with his collection. Your probably the same guy that'll tell someone who owns a classic console to throw out his still working mint condition nes/sega and all of the game because he can just get a usb controller and some roms and play them on pc


I don't really get how's vintage consoles are related to the topic.
Anyway, if space is not a premium where you live then I guess physical media is not that much of a burden.
But still, ripping your media makes it a lot easier to access (and to search through), and a HDD is usually less delicate than optical discs.

I use a DVD burner in my HTPC to rip my DVD collection. When I'm done ripping and compressing my 500+ collection of DVDs I will have little to no use for my DVD drive. My desktop has a DVD drive that I mainly use to burn CD's since I actually still use the CD player in my car (its a bose system so it would be wrong for me not to use it). I don't see myself getting rid of any of my optical drives anytime soon. I recently started using Netflix and I'm about to drop my Hulu Plus account since I haven't used it in about a month.
As to why I am actually ripping my DVDs and having Netflix, I live in the sunshine state, and its not always sunny, especially during the summer, when its actually raining a lot. A strong thunderstorm will knock out my Comcast service and then I am stuck without the ability to watch movies. I use Terk HDTVa antenna for local HD channels which works flawless. As for blu rays, I have a blu ray player, and I haven't used it in months...

NO!!!!!!!! Blu-Rays are excellent for data backups which you don't have to modify!!! And cheap compared to flash memory still.

xpclient said,
NO!!!!!!!! Blu-Rays are excellent for data backups which you don't have to modify!!! And cheap compared to flash memory still.

Easier to stack to, wonder who here is able to make a lil pile of 20-30 usb sticks stand stable

Shadowzz said,

Easier to stack to, wonder who here is able to make a lil pile of 20-30 usb sticks stand stable

Use an external HDD.

Easier to stack, better GB to dollar value, more resistant to surface damage than discs, faster read/write time (up to 10 Gb/s throughput via Thunderbolt), etc...

a0me said,

Use an external HDD.

Easier to stack, better GB to dollar value, more resistant to surface damage than discs, faster read/write time (up to 10 Gb/s throughput via Thunderbolt), etc...

I can't gift expensive external HDDs or high capacity flash drives to people everyday like I can gift Blu-Rays with stuff on them.

xpclient said,

I can't gift expensive external HDDs or high capacity flash drives to people everyday like I can gift Blu-Rays with stuff on them.


Are you a photographer / filmmaker?
I can't think of any other (legal) use for filling up Blu-ray discs and even then, if it's just a couple of GB, I've always found it easier to just share stuff on Google, Drop Box, etc...

People who need a built-in optical drive are becoming a decreasing minority.
This has happened with floppy disk drive and parallel ports before.
This is happening to optical drive now, and soon the same will happen (or is already happening) for Ethernet ports and memory card readers.

a0me said,
People who need a built-in optical drive are becoming a decreasing minority.
This has happened with floppy disk drive and parallel ports before.
This is happening to optical drive now, and soon the same will happen (or is already happening) for Ethernet ports and memory card readers.

ethernet ports... really?... By that time, desktops/workstations will already be a thing of the past.

Shadowzz said,

ethernet ports... really?... By that time, desktops/workstations will already be a thing of the past.

Not necessarily. At home (work is a different story) I haven't used the Ethernet port for years and most people around me are the same.
If for some reason (security?) you don't want to use Wi-Fi, a USB to Ethernet adapter should do the trick.

a0me said,

Not necessarily. At home (work is a different story) I haven't used the Ethernet port for years and most people around me are the same.
If for some reason (security?) you don't want to use Wi-Fi, a USB to Ethernet adapter should do the trick.
That's laughable. It's so far beyond logical thinking that I don't even know what to say. You really think there won't be a need for hard lines? That everyone will jump to wireless everything? How about servers? ISP's? The need for a line to run to your house/apartment?

I didn't know that the EM spectrum was unlimited. Time to start designing that gamma wave router. That won't harm anyone wearing their 6 inch thick lead pants.

KCRic said,
That's laughable. It's so far beyond logical thinking that I don't even know what to say. You really think there won't be a need for hard lines? That everyone will jump to wireless everything? How about servers? ISP's? The need for a line to run to your house/apartment?

I didn't know that the EM spectrum was unlimited. Time to start designing that gamma wave router. That won't harm anyone wearing their 6 inch thick lead pants.


Who said anything about servers and ISPs?

I'm only taking about consumer electronics.

Where I live most people use their computer, TV, game console, etc. with Wi-Fi to connect to the web via their wireless home router, and I assume that it's the same in most urban areas in the industrialized world.
On these appliances and devices the Ethernet port is effectively useless (since it's not used).

scumdogmillionaire said,
I was going to buy a Sony BD-R for my computer soon to have a high capacity archival system(family photos and stuff). Maybe I'll go with another brand

I have an LG BD-R that can also play HD DVDs. (I was able to buy up the $3 clearance discs plus my XBox can play them too.) The drive has worked very well for me. I don't know if I've ever had a Sony optical drive in any format. However, I prefer ArcSoft's software over what came with the drive.

I quit using a hardware optical drive a while back. Anything I need, I just use an ISO in a Virtual DVD. Once in a while, I might need one, but for the most part, I haven't used it in a while.

Well, movies will go the way of music - people don't care too much for quality - I don't know why. They'd rather stream a low-bitrate movie than get the highest quality on a blu-ray disc. Personally, I'm a disc-lover... but only until they offer 30GB streaming movies online, and an internet connection to match.

cleverclogs said,
Well, movies will go the way of music - people don't care too much for quality - I don't know why. They'd rather stream a low-bitrate movie than get the highest quality on a blu-ray disc. Personally, I'm a disc-lover... but only until they offer 30GB streaming movies online, and an internet connection to match.

So true, the amount of youtube rips I hear from people's cars is eardestroyingly bad quality.

Shadowzz said,

So true, the amount of youtube rips I hear from people's cars is eardestroyingly bad quality.
Reminds me of when I was younger (err, 10-15 years ago) and my friends would turn the bass all the way up on a factory radio. The distortion was beyond describable. They would all say "man, listen to that bass. [whomever's] stereo has so much bass".

People are so pathetic.

Wow, exactly what Microsoft was saying around seven years ago...

Optical media is far beyond outdated, not only with online options, but with Flash RAM price points close enough to optical media, there is no need to continue using clumsy, low capacity, and slow speeds.

Look at Video Games or Movies, even with today's pricing, shipping them on Flash would add about $1 to the consumer cost over optical media. A majority of consumers have TV, consoles, media devices that you can slap a Protected USB or SD in and watch a movie.

This would even work well for RedBox/Kiosks, as it could issue a blank protected Flash device and consumers could just reload movies on it. (For people without high speed internet connections.)

For people with High Speed internet, as in 6mbps+ (Which is low for high speed today), the movie quality being offered on services like Xbox/Zune Video is starting to offer higher quality than what you can often get on BluRay.

Shadowzz said,

You do forget that most people do not have internet capacities as you and me. For my standards 50mbit is already low speed
Live in KC - have Google fiber. What are your speeds again??

cleverclogs said,

Disc, NOT disk.
What's the difference? They're both technically correct.

Sure, disk = magnetic storage, and disc = optical storage

However, they are two spellings, pronounced the same, that refer to the exact same concept. IE. a flat circle.

Optical drives are still useful for legacy things... and installing Windows if you don't want to sacrifice a USB drive every time.

The last time I used mine (I have 2, both from Lite-On, sorry Sony) was when I was making physical backups for a customer. Before that? Probably to install my current OS.

I still have 2 huge spindles with a bunch of unused DVD-/+R discs on them. Not sure if I'll ever use them as I stopped physical backups once I got my RAID1 array. By comparison, I have about 8 spindles with CD/DVD backups on them. I wonder if I'll ever manage to go through them again.. Kinda forgotten what's useful on them.

DAOWAce said,
Optical drives are still useful for legacy things... and installing Windows if you don't want to sacrifice a USB drive every time.

The last time I used mine (I have 2, both from Lite-On, sorry Sony) was when I was making physical backups for a customer. Before that? Probably to install my current OS.

I still have 2 huge spindles with a bunch of unused DVD-/+R discs on them. Not sure if I'll ever use them as I stopped physical backups once I got my RAID1 array. By comparison, I have about 8 spindles with CD/DVD backups on them. I wonder if I'll ever manage to go through them again.. Kinda forgotten what's useful on them.

Sacrifice a USB drive? You know you they are rewritable? No Sacrifice... Have a HD with images of all OSes, and slap the OS you want to install on a utility USB drive, and when you can buy 4gb USB drives at Walmart for $4, this is not a big investment to have a couple of utility drives.

If you are making boot discs for customers, go buy bulk USB Flash 4gb drives, you can get them for under $2.

I agree that RIGHT NOW, there is some use for customers with older systems that can't boot USB properly or using a DVD is just easier for now, or you want to make a MP3 CD for your car.

However, this is not a long term need, and if you are someone that NEEDS optical for a specific purpose like you suggest or the ones I mention, you can buy a USB External optical drive for use on even a Microsoft Surface computer, let alone a new Sony desktop without an optical drive.

Some people don't live portable lives and have no real need for USB drives aside from very specific uses; thus no need to buy any. (not to mention it's still extra costs for quality drives, something I don't need to be spending.)

I myself own a 1GB Kingston and 8GB Patriot that I got for free and $7 after MIR respectively. The first is about 4 years old, the second is around 2.

This is why I said 'sacrifice', because you have to remove all the data from it to make it appear as a bootable image, along with do some complicated stuff to set that functionality up. It's a hassle. In most cases this is irrelevant if your motherboard supports booting to USB drives directly, which most older computers I work on don't.

Optical discs are far easier for computer illiterate people to use as well. Not to mention DVDs are still used a lot for movies, which I burn for my family from time to time.

Basically, legacy tech has a place for older people while it fades into 'useless' territory for the newer generation. This is why I still have boxes upon boxes of old computer parts, among other things.

My optical drives don't work anymore. I have a theory that these don't work if they are not being used.

They are going the way of the Zip drive and floppy disk. I won't miss them.

Shadrack said,
My optical drives don't work anymore. I have a theory that these don't work if they are not being used.

They are going the way of the Zip drive and floppy disk. I won't miss them.


I just tried to run a DVD on mine after 2 years, nah... the drive does not work. I had to enable the drive from my device manager since I hate its icon in my computer, feels dated.

WaqasTariq said,

I just tried to run a DVD on mine after 2 years, nah... the drive does not work. I had to enable the drive from my device manager since I hate its icon in my computer, feels dated.

Dated feel doesn´t mean is not usable. Many people still use them for backup, since HD´s or cloud storage are not secure yet.

Shadrack said,
My optical drives don't work anymore. I have a theory that these don't work if they are not being used.

They are going the way of the Zip drive and floppy disk. I won't miss them.

Your theory may be right. If you notice, sometimes you can hear your drive spinning up even if there isn't a disc in there.

Fer63 said,

Dated feel doesn´t mean is not usable. Many people still use them for backup, since HD´s or cloud storage are not secure yet.

As I said above, I have no problem with people using DVD drives, there suerly are things people need it for, I can not use it anymore, thats it.

Fer63 said,

Dated feel doesn´t mean is not usable. Many people still use them for backup, since HD´s or cloud storage are not secure yet.

Holy cow, and you would trust your data to optical media that has less archive lifespan than Flash or even traditional HD technology?

Before you spend money on a BluRay/DVD recorder and 50-100 disc, you need to buy a SSD or traditional external HD and just back up everything at once. (Buy two, and put one in a fire and temperature protected safe at the bank.)

Optical media SHOULD NOT BE USED FOR BACKUP!

Shadrack said,
My optical drives don't work anymore. I have a theory that these don't work if they are not being used.

They are going the way of the Zip drive and floppy disk. I won't miss them.


Zip drives never caught on at all. But indeed, haven't had a floppy drive in my tower since XP days.

thenetavenger said,

Holy cow, and you would trust your data to optical media that has less archive lifespan than Flash or even traditional HD technology?

Before you spend money on a BluRay/DVD recorder and 50-100 disc, you need to buy a SSD or traditional external HD and just back up everything at once. (Buy two, and put one in a fire and temperature protected safe at the bank.)

Optical media SHOULD NOT BE USED FOR BACKUP!

And you would trust your data to be stored on a device that can fail, causing your data to be lost - permanently? Holy cow indeed. Optical media doesn't fail unless you trash it. Electricity, magnetism, water, heat, cold, time, or just a failure in the manufacturing process can cause usb storage and SSD's to fail.

Please tell me when the last time was that you had an optical format just randomly fail? I don't mean you messed up the disk. I mean you put it in a sleeve, stored it, and when you put it in the drive the disk was toast. I've have plenty of usb drives fail...

I'm definitely fine with optical drives not being in laptops. However, since HD streaming isn't near the quality of blu-ray, and I still buy a mix of digital music (mp3, aac, etc) and CDs, I don't see me stopping using optical media any time soon. Even if it is just 'rip once and put in storage'.


The era of PCs having some kind of optical disc drive installed may be slowly coming to an end.

This will take a very very long time.

rosszone said,
I'm definitely fine with optical drives not being in laptops. However, since HD streaming isn't near the quality of blu-ray, and I still buy a mix of digital music (mp3, aac, etc) and CDs, I don't see me stopping using optical media any time soon. Even if it is just 'rip once and put in storage'.

This!

This will take a very very long time.

sanke1 said,
I am without a CD rom drive in my tower PC since last 4-5 months. Don't miss it in anyway.

Same, partially cause my new motherboard has no IDE And I do not have a SATA DVD drive Still going to get one soon enough, I do notice I miss it from time to time. Going for blu-ray tho, but still. A tower without a Diskdrive can be tedious from time to time, even tho theres alternatives.

Shadrack said,

Oh how I just love the term "ultra high definition". 4K is ok, but UHD is a ****ty subjective time-sensitive term that shouldn't be used as a pronoun. Just like MS and their "Modern UI" pronoun.


"Pronoun"?

Well its about time, the last time I used a CD/DVD/BLUE was about 2 years ago I think, they are a waste of space, especially in laptops, the space that can be used (or reduced) for the better.

WaqasTariq said,
Well its about time, the last time I used a CD/DVD/BLUE was about 2 years ago I think, they are a waste of space, especially in laptops, the space that can be used (or reduced) for the better.

I sure hope you are speaking only for yourself, I still find it a necessary tool even it is use just a couple of times a month.

Pam14160 said,

I sure hope you are speaking only for yourself, I still find it a necessary tool even it is use just a couple of times a month.

A portable CD/DVD drive should do the trick for those who want to use it? Just like in the HP Envy range you get a portable drive, CD/DVD drives in laptops are now just added weight.

WaqasTariq said,

A portable CD/DVD drive should do the trick for those who want to use it?

As long as tower/desktop computers exist, there will be a place for internal optical drives. I'd just hate massively if I couldn't get an internal optical drive for my tower and had to always dig around in a bin for that '*cursed* *cursed* mother *cursed* now-where-is-the-cord *cursed* portable drive!!'

WaqasTariq said,
Well its about time, the last time I used a CD/DVD/BLUE was about 2 years ago I think, they are a waste of space, especially in laptops, the space that can be used (or reduced) for the better.

My new gaming laptop has one. Ive used it a few times already.

Pam14160 said,

I sure hope you are speaking only for yourself, I still find it a necessary tool even it is use just a couple of times a month.

Agreed.

rosszone said,

As long as tower/desktop computers exist, there will be a place for internal optical drives. I'd just hate massively if I couldn't get an internal optical drive for my tower and had to always dig around in a bin for that '*cursed* *cursed* mother *cursed* now-where-is-the-cord *cursed* portable drive!!'


Hmm... maybe I am the only one then who does not use a CD/DVD drive then. Anyways, the the CD/DVD era will end in a few years (4~5), that's what I think.

I was not talking about desktops though, only laptops.

WaqasTariq said,

Hmm... maybe I am the only one then who does not use a CD/DVD drive then. Anyways, the the CD/DVD era will end in a few years (4~5), that's what I think.

I was not talking about desktops though, only laptops.

Just as easily, if i didnt have a CD/DVD Drive, id have used some free utility to convert it to a bootable flash drive/whatever else it may be. I havent bought a game on CD in years, and its only use for me is Acronis True image/Windows boot cd's.

WaqasTariq said,

Hmm... maybe I am the only one then who does not use a CD/DVD drive then. Anyways, the the CD/DVD era will end in a few years (4~5), that's what I think.

I was not talking about desktops though, only laptops.

It's a portable device, why would someone want to carry about a cumbersome drive if they can just have it built in? Yes, you can image your discs or get a digital version, but in the event you can't or don't have time then it's just nice to have.

rosszone said,

As long as tower/desktop computers exist, there will be a place for internal optical drives. I'd just hate massively if I couldn't get an internal optical drive for my tower and had to always dig around in a bin for that '*cursed* *cursed* mother *cursed* now-where-is-the-cord *cursed* portable drive!!'

In the OEM space, Sony's OptiArc has been trapped into competing with the Toshiba/Samsung ODD JV, which has been eating Sony's lunch in terms of price. (Compare the pricing of bare drives from Sony vs. Samsung's OEM SuperWriteMaster drives - while the diff is usually a buck or two, it's in Samsung's favor; worse, the Samsung drives have better quality. I have a Samsung in my current build right now, and have bought more Samsungs for other projects - usually upgrades/replacements.)

rosszone said,

As long as tower/desktop computers exist, there will be a place for internal optical drives.

The last time I had a Tower PC was in 2004. Since then I have always used Notebooks or All-in-One PCs and the same applies for my work environments too.

Don't get me wrong - the ideal of having a cheap PC with user configurable options like expansion cards, almost everything upgradable etc, is nice. But at the end of the day I want my electronics to be more compact.

Pam14160 said,

I sure hope you are speaking only for yourself, I still find it a necessary tool even it is use just a couple of times a month.

I dont really have any use for an optical drive in my PC, cant honestly say ive used it for years. My HTPC has a Blu-ray drive in it, which randomly gets used for DVD's and Blu-rays however thats about it.