CDs, DVDs & Optical Drives Heading for Extinction?

My wife and I were driving in downtown Bundaberg the other day when we passed a large DVD rental store and she who must be obeyed commented… “I wouldn’t have thought DVD rental stores stores would still be a profitable business these days“. I have to admit, it was a pretty insightful comment.

With streaming video services booming, PayTV, and so many other entertainment options available, DVDs and CDs are fast becoming a non-entity.

Technology Comes, Technology Goes

It’s just the nature of the beast really, advancements in technology continually see older standards consigned to the junk heap, replaced by the latest and greatest. In a relatively short space of time we’ve gone from vinyl records to CDs to MP3 players. From the dreadful VHS/Beta tape players to DVD players to Blu-ray and PVRs. And with computers; mega capacity external USB drives and flash drives have pretty much superseded discs as the storage medium of choice. Not to mention support for creating and loading bootable USB media which has all but replaced the need for bootable discs.

Where I would once burn a video to DVD to watch on TV, I now just connect a flash drive to the TV’s USB port. There was also a time when I always carried multiple music CDs with me in the car, these days I can carry a single flash drive containing hundreds of my favorite tracks. I can’t even remember the last time I bought blank CDs or DVDs.

When I built my latest machine, around 4 months ago, I seriously considered not including an optical drive, but then, after seeing how inexpensive they are, decided to install one after all – I have yet to use it by the way. This is in stark contrast to earlier builds where I have always included 2 optical drives, mainly to facilitate disc to disc copying without needing to swap media around ~ terminal laziness. Those older systems also always included DVD copy software, AnyDVD decryption software, a full disc burning suite, and other sundry CD/DVD tools. These days, my total installed media software consists of a single video converter. If I were to compare the software installed on my system from (say) 6 years ago to today, the lists would not be at all similar.

This then is how new technology not only influences our lifestyle but also our computer hardware and software choices.

What do you think – are CDs and DVDs well on the way out? Are you still using CDs and/or DVDs?


About The Author

9 thoughts on “CDs, DVDs & Optical Drives Heading for Extinction?”

  1. Hello Jim,
    I learned to write programs on the “Bally Arcade” computer and then wrote for the Atari 8bit line of computers in the early 80’s. I have also built all my PC’s with all the necessary CD/DVD hardware and software.
    It’s funny but just a few days ago I opened my computer closet and began to wonder what in the world I would do with all my blank DVD’s. Letting my Grand kids throw them around the back yard came to mind but I soon decided that would be keeping with my normal irresponsibility.
    Here in North Texas, all brick and mortar stores are gone except “Family Video” and they are only in some cities. Redbox is still going strong here and I still use it myself. They keep sending me coupons almost every week and if I were to figure an average cost over time it would probably be less than a dollar per movie. This is a great help to my retirement budget. For all other movies, I stream.
    I read yesterday that Redbox is going to jump into the streaming game again. If is is successful, I guess it could bring an end to those shiny round things!
    Have a great day!

  2. I think they are on their way out. I cannot remember the last time I used a CD/DVD. I use my Amazon Prime for streaming as well as Netflix. The more mechanical parts on a computer, the more chance for somethign to break. Even auto manufacturers will probably elminate them. My 1 vehicle has 4 usb ports to add music via flash drive or mp player.

  3. CD/DVD/BD may be on their way “out” but I still use them all the time. CD’s for boot media (ie, partition, backup, repair, rescue) which I like better than USB boot media which normally requires a dedicated USB stick for each one. DVD’s for film rentals (local store, Redbox) and my movie collection which I prefer over streaming since not dependent on uninterrupted internet connectivity nor Netflix/Amazon’s whims as to what’s in their current catalog. BD’s for HD film viewing and extensive storage on non-magnetic media.

  4. Interesting article. You didn’t get any vegemite on that disc did you?

    for some, they are on the way out, but for others (like me) I still have around 400 blank DVD+R’s and around 3 to 4 100 packs of CD’s. Not mention around 20 or so various sizes usb sticks. Why? CD player in me truck, a usb player in the car, a cd player in the woodworking shop, etc, etc, etc. But I have had more problems with usb sticks working. Go figure huh.

    I haven’t had a cd player or dvd player or even a blu ray player go bad in all my years of having them (I got my first cd player in… wait for it …. 1982 and it still works and is used!).

    It all depends. Most folks are in such a hurry, that only having one way for carrying info/music (ipod/usb) is they way they do it.

    But guess what – usb and ipods are on the way out too. : (

  5. Shiny discs aren’t going anywhere, especially with the new Ultra-HD format discs on their way now. I have a decent pair of speakers and external dac linked to my PC, on which I audition certain things online. But I’d never use the PC for serious listening, and certainly never for watching films. I have a proper home cinema with projector and a hi-fi system, with standalone players for vinyl, minidisc, CD, DVD and Blu-ray. My main pleasure is hi-res 5.1 music, and I have around 400 albums in this format on DVD-A, SACD and Blu-ray discs. I have another 15,000 albums split evenly between vinyl and CD, and the temptation to put these all on a digital server is zero. I don’t need them to be portable, don’t have the time to do it and hard drives regularly fail, while I’ve had many of these for 30+ years, and they’ll be good for another 30 as they are. Put simply, I find the physical artefacts superior and more desirable than streaming and downloads – the hi-res versions of which are also stupidly expensive and restricted to stereo only. I realise that I’m not typical – when everyone was getting into miniaturisation, sexy ipods and shitty sound quality MP3s, I was building a six-speaker system where the whole soundstage would disappear if you moved away from the centre of the couch. But there are many like me out there, as the surging demand for hi-res audio, both digital and vinyl, testifies. People have been predicting the demise of physical media discs for years now. I’m not convinced.

  6. I love classical music and have a superb audiophile system. The speakers listed at $6,000 but I bought the betas which went better with my tube preamp and because I let the dealer use my livingroom for a few demos for customers I got them for $1,000. So the system came in at under $10,000. I have over 500 CDs and an excellent $400 CD player. There is no way in the world I’d give these up and even with studio monitors hooked up to my computer that sound doesn’t approach the living room system.

  7. Jim,
    I’ve built a small music recording studio in my father’s basement and he has quite the collection of digital recording equipment from Roland to Tascam to Zoom but the one piece of equipment that I value as the best of all of this equipment is my father’s older Korg D1600 Recording Studio with built-in Hard Drive & CD Burner. I use Roland V Drums for percussion and here’s where CD’s comes back into the mix. I burn the mix down to CD and go to my computer to mix the wave file for YouTube & SoundCloud.
    My father has a shelf load of blank CD’s. That’s about the only use I’ve had with CD’s for a couple of years now.
    My Vinyl Collection has taken on a whole new life. I purchased my new turntable, have a professional Hi-Fi system and I listen to my album collection plus have ordered vinyls from Amazon.
    I use Kodi for TV & Movies and haven’t played a movie DVD for years.
    My Music CD Collection is packed away and I pull it out sometimes to listen to CD’s that are hard to find on the internet so I still have music in my CD collection that has some use.
    But, CD’s, DVD’s, Vinyl, Tapes are all on how we regard them for our personal preference. The thing I find annoying is how technology is flipping & flopping all over the place right now struggling with the next hot button on format, quality, delivery, hardware, software, Apps and what we carry around on a daily basis to use the technology that best suits our personal life.
    As a musician I can say one thing. The technology has made it difficult for musicians to sell their music when the technology has allowed for pirating their original music.

    1. Here , in the UK, we have “charity shops”. Being retired, I usually stroll around a circuit , for exercise, which passes ten of these shops every week.
      All these shops sell used music Cds for a £1 each.
      I usually pick up a few classical music discs, mist weeks and rip them onto my Apple Mac Pro. To do this, I bought an Apple usb Cdrom, just over two years ago.
      From my main MacBook Music Library, I copy my albums to my MacBook Air and two iPads .
      With no usb or Bluetooth in my old Vollvo, I keep a few Cds , for longer trips.

      By the way, I like the way that most fournalists start with “we’ve gone from vynil to cassettes….etc,”. Well , let me tell them that there were discs before vynil; they were made from shellac and called 78s.
      I still have some, and yes, a few charity shops still sell some of these,
      Modern turntables can still be found that will play 78s and store them onto usbs.

  8. Andrew Whitburn

    I had said a similar thing to my wife about 6 months ago about how do the video stores stay open. Well, they don’t, they have all since closed in my area….not one left. It makes me wonder about how do people rent movies now if they didn’t get to see it at the cinema? I know some things will be online, but in Australia we hardly get anything in our Netflix catalogue compared to USA.

    In regards to CD’s and DVD’s….I think they will still be around…although CD’s are more likely to disappear I think first. I personally don’t use CD’s anymore since getting a smart phone and plugging it into my 4wd stereo. DVD’s I sometimes put films on to send to my Mum to watch….and I use DVD of Windows when re-formatting my HDD

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