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Do you need that CD drive?

india Updated: Jul 23, 2012 14:56 IST
N Madhavan

I remember my childhood when tape recorders had large spools. Then came cassettes, followed by compact discs, which are now simply called CDs. And, it seems we may be witnessing now the decline of the CD as well.

Last week, I strolled by Nehru Place, the definitive Delhi haunt to catch the digital buzz, and found myself enquiring about a very trendy home computer that seemed to have all the great stuff — until I discovered that it did not have a disc drive. It seemed surprising, but the salesman was helpful. "Why do you need one?" he asked. "People just use USB (universal serial bus) drives these days. Anyway, you can get one cheap and attach it easily."

He may have been exaggerating, but there is plenty of sense in what he said. You can get a DVD player for around R1,000 and the better brands are also not too expensive, relative to the overall spending on a PC. More important is the shift taking place in the way people consume music, and soon, I suspect, movies.

Philips and Sony have new models of music systems with USB drives and the newer TV models have that as well. India’s own Moser Baer was one of the first to launch DVD players with USB drives, which are now becoming part of the ‘default’ staple.

Newer MP3 players have a USB plug that can be simply plugged into a TV or a music system. Two years ago, you bought a docking system for your iPod or other MP3 players. The new trend is to make audio systems and MP3 players compatible with each other from the word go.

Moser Baer also launched recently USB drives with pre-loaded movies. USB drives are getting higher in capacity and cheaper in price and music and movies can be increasingly bought over the Internet and then simply copied from your computer and taken to your music system or TV — or streamed wirelessly over wi-fi in a connected home.

So, you may ask, what is the CD or DVD doing in such a world? High definition DVDs and blu-ray format discs are the latest in the quest for higher quality audio-video experience. And CD and DVD collections have to be dealt with the same way cassette collections are. So, it may be too early to write off your disc players. But there is little doubt that storage of digital content is shifting to the consumer end, and purchases to the Internet.