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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > Superdrive worth it or not?

Superdrive worth it or not?
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npeterh
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May 24, 2005, 01:06 AM
 
I have been looking at the 15 inch PB for some time and unless Steve presents an upgrade at WWDC I will probably put in an order for a 15 inch by then.
However I am torn between the combo and the Super drive since there is a $300 difference.
It is possible to get a LaCie external drive for less than $200 that do Dual Layer and even if it is only the + format today it will probably come out witha - version soon.

Would you buy the Combo and save you money for an external DVD burner that can handle dual - discs in the future?

A friend of mine burned some + discs for me and my two DVD players for the tv refused to play any of them so until there is a dual layer - version I think it is a waste to burn any movies.

What do you think? Also, do you find the 15 inch too hot? Tried one in the Apple store and it felt substantially less hot than my old Pismo!

-Peter

P.S. I would love to see a 7448 upgrade at WWDC, more battery time and slightly faster would seal the deal for me!
     
Link
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May 24, 2005, 02:08 AM
 
The problem with the powerbooks at the moment is you end up with one of two superdrives:

The matshita (matsushita, I think) 835 - kinda lousy, can't do dual layer, and slow
matshita 845: faster, does dual layer, not necessarily allowed in firmware but can be easily fixed.

So you're taking a gamble, when I found out about the 835 and how it sucks, I ended up getting the 15" combo drive model, since the 167mhz speed bump wasn't worth it to me.
Good luck!
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amazing
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May 24, 2005, 02:11 AM
 
I assembled a 16X Pioneer DVR-108 and a firewire case for about $110 (depending on your flavor of either fw-400 or fw-800. I only needed fw-400). Here's the DVR-109 and a MacAlly fw-400 case.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16827129161
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16817146607

The internal burner in a laptop is nowhere near as fast, period.

As far as burning movies, you need the latest version of Toast and you need the proper DVD blanks--there's alot of junk disks out there. Even then, you get TDK DVD-R disks, your older DVD player is perhaps not able to recognize DVD-R disks because it's too old or it needs a firmware update to recognize the newest blanks. If your friend gave you DVD+R disks, then many players aren't compatible (people have better results with -R).
     
Link
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May 24, 2005, 02:15 AM
 
Yeah that was another thing, for $60-65 I can throw a pioneer dvr-109 into my powermac and not have to worry about it Then again, they do make the burner for laptops, I hear it costs about 250! O_O
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SEkker
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May 24, 2005, 09:27 AM
 
Compatibility with DVD players is strictly a function of media. I have some COMPUSA-branded DVD-R media that works fine on my PB revA superdrive, but none of my three (Sony, Toshiba, or Magnavox) home DVD players can read that media.

On the other hand, Apple-branded and some other cheap media work great.

But I have a fast external, dual-layer FW burner and I STILL like having my internal DVD-R capability. When I'm doing something serious, the FW drive is great. But when I'm making archives of my files, which I do every 2-3 months, the internal drive can't be beat.
     
amazing
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May 24, 2005, 11:15 AM
 
Heck, if you've got a desktop that you can throw a faster burner into, that's the way to go! Doing the eventual backup every 2-3 months works just as well with a firewire drive (which you can also hookup to the eventual new laptop.) Natch, if money's no object, then what the hey?

The other concern you have to load into the financial equation is that "someday" you're gonna be salivating over a G5 laptop. In other words, you wanna save money now so as to be able scratch the eventual itch. Sticking any money besides RAM or a larger HD into a laptop is a money-losing proposition. Go external because you'll be able to take with you to the next laptop.
     
tcphoto
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May 24, 2005, 04:47 PM
 
If you use iLife or make your own movies, go with the Superdrive. I do not need those large dvd backups and am content with my Combo version Powerbook. I chose to put the difference into a 1 gig memory upgrade. If I need a Superdrive in the future, I'll buy an external drive or upgrade the internal drive.
     
d0dg3
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May 24, 2005, 04:51 PM
 
I think you should definetly go for it, I myself went for it as well and it is just so much more convenient
     
bimmerphile
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May 24, 2005, 06:12 PM
 
I don't know when I'd ever burn a DVD on-the-go, or when I'd even have enough free HD space to make something that I'd want to burn to a DVD on-the-go.

That's why I have a DVR-109 in a FW box w/ my 250GB external.

and FWIW, you can buy both of those for the cost of the apple-installed superdrive ($200 IIRC)
-Kris Olson | 12" PBG4 1.5GHz
     
Dinan
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May 24, 2005, 09:23 PM
 
this is a question i'd also like to find the answer to...

right now i'm pretty much planning on getting the 15" 1.67Ghz 128 vram and 512 ram.. i just dont know if i want to get the superdrive, or downgrade to a combo. i was thinking that, since i'm going to need to use this comp for ~5 years, then would it be beneficial to get the superdrive now? (since most likely the dvd media will be used more in the future)

i'm already going to order an extra 1 gig stick of ram so i'll have 1.5gb of it
     
ericssonboi
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May 24, 2005, 10:02 PM
 
When i was making my decision on my 1.67Ghz.. it was basicly for resale..
I already have a dvd burner on my desktop.. but i opted to still add it on my PB..
Just for in the future.. if i were to sell it.. it would be a selling point..
Might seem a lot now.. the extra ~100 could get you extra ram or something..
15" 2.33 MBP 2GB Ram, 120GB HD - Main Rig
     
npeterh  (op)
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May 24, 2005, 11:55 PM
 
Thanks for all the comments. Well if there is an update at WWDC I will see what the price difference is at that point. Otherwise I will most likely go with the Combo on Amazon and save the difference for an external drive, Dual Layer "-" capable.

-Peter
     
bimmerphile
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May 25, 2005, 12:03 AM
 
Originally Posted by npeterh
Thanks for all the comments. Well if there is an update at WWDC I will see what the price difference is at that point. Otherwise I will most likely go with the Combo on Amazon and save the difference for an external drive, Dual Layer "-" capable.

-Peter
Smart move. You can get a DVR-109 for ~$50 at newegg, a 250GB HD for ~$120, and a 2 sweet Al cases at $30 each. So for $70 less than the $300 difference for the superdrive on the 15" you get all that extra space and a faster burner.

The one drawback, as I see it: No backlit keyboard.

EDIT: I see that the backlit keyboard is now available on all 15" and 17" models. Nevermind.
-Kris Olson | 12" PBG4 1.5GHz
     
tooki
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May 25, 2005, 12:28 AM
 
The backlit keyboard was always a build-to-order option on the 15" AlBooks.

tooki
     
vinster
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May 25, 2005, 01:16 AM
 
I recommend ordering a combo until Apple improves the speed and functionality of its laptop superdrives. If enough buyers do this, perhaps it'll send a message to the company that it needs to pay attention to the performance and ongoing support of this part.

I'm really not pleased with MATSHITA drives primarily because they (and Apple) don't supply firmware updaters for the drives I think this is because the UJ-8XX's are one of the only series of DVD drives without hacked region-free firmware (perhaps Panasonic's afraid of someone reverse-engineering their RPC technology if they make an updater utility). .

Furthermore, there are a lot of good external DVDR drives out there. I have a Plextor PX-716UF and am very happy with it. Contrary to some of the opinions about media being the only factor in fast/reliable/compatible burns, firmware is a big part of the equation and Plextor regularly updates firmware for its current-model drives. The company also posts Mac-based firmware updaters. Even Mac OS9 updaters! (now that's commitment considering even Apple no longer supports the OS)
     
sadpandas
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May 25, 2005, 06:27 PM
 
I didnt think i would use it but bought just in case i want to sell it down the line. It will make for a better resell value.
*Dual 2.8 quad core Mac Pro, 512 8800 GT, 1tb boot, 500gb audio, 340gb video, 6gb ram
*15"pb*1.67*128vm*100hd*2g ram*
*PMac*Dual 2.0GHz* 4g ram*
*3.0 p4 630* gigabyte848p775* radeon X800 Pro 256* 2g ram*
     
Kyros
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May 26, 2005, 09:40 PM
 
Can't you upgrade from a combo drive to superdrive on the weaker 15 inch BTO? IT's what 100 or 150 dollars? Might make the choice easier.
g4/1.5 GHz 12 inch powerbook / 1.25 RAM / 80 gig / Superdrive / 10.5.6
g3/400 MHz Pismo / 640 RAM / 40 gig / Combo Drive / 10.3.9
     
Lesterm10
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May 26, 2005, 09:41 PM
 
If you know you're going to be burning DVD's the just get the Superdrive. It's that easy.
Dell Dimension XPS Gen 4 | P4 3.6 Ghz | 2GB of Memory | 160GB HDD | 80GB HDD | Dual Layer DVD-RW | DVD-ROM Drive | ATI Radeon X850 XT PE | Internal 10 in 1 Media Card Reader | Sony HX73 17 inch Silver LCD Monitor | Logitech DiNovo Bluetooth Keyboard and Mouse

Apple Powerbook 12" rev. D | 1.5 Ghz G4 | 1.256GB of Memory | 80GB HDD | SuperDrive
     
Paco500
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May 26, 2005, 11:07 PM
 
I have way too many computers at my disposal, including a PM G4 733 (the original super drive model) and a few others, and to any of them I can pop on my LaCie FW/USB2 DVD burner. That being said, I went with the SD when I bought my PB. I travel a lot and don't want the extra hassle of carrying an external drive. There are just too many times when I need to put data on a disk and the capacity of a CD-R just doesn't cut it. The SD in my PB (1.67 15") is not the best or fastest, but it works consistently. I have never regretted spending the extra $ but I know I would have regretted not having the ability to burn a DVD if I really needed to.

But that's me and the work I do. Your milage may vary.
     
vinster
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May 27, 2005, 01:13 AM
 
Originally Posted by Paco500
I... There are just too many times when I need to put data on a disk and the capacity of a CD-R just doesn't cut it. The SD in my PB (1.67 15") is not the best or fastest, but it works consistently. I have never regretted spending the extra $ but I know I would have regretted not having the ability to burn a DVD if I really needed to.

But that's me and the work I do. Your milage may vary.
Do you do a lot with Video? It's the only thing I can think of that needs DVDR-capacity media. I use CD-R for all the typical data types, documents, music, photos, etc . I do agree access to a DVDR's good I just don't think it needs to be necessarily portable, but that's just me.
     
SEkker
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May 27, 2005, 07:49 AM
 
Originally Posted by vinster
Do you do a lot with Video? It's the only thing I can think of that needs DVDR-capacity media. I use CD-R for all the typical data types, documents, music, photos, etc . I do agree access to a DVDR's good I just don't think it needs to be necessarily portable, but that's just me.
It does not take too many files to max out a CD-R disc. I use optical media for archives -- DVDs are clearly the way to go. For example, we currently take over 4 GB of digital family photos per year. And we have not even moved digital for video yet.
     
vinster
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May 27, 2005, 09:38 AM
 
Originally Posted by SEkker
It does not take too many files to max out a CD-R disc. I use optical media for archives -- DVDs are clearly the way to go. For example, we currently take over 4 GB of digital family photos per year. And we have not even moved digital for video yet.
I took 8GB of digital photos last year, averaged out to about one CD-R every six weeks. I also burned to a couple DVD's so I have redundant copies just in case.

I guess I just don't see that DVDR's are clearly the way to go in your example.
     
Paco500
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May 27, 2005, 08:36 PM
 
Originally Posted by vinster
Do you do a lot with Video? It's the only thing I can think of that needs DVDR-capacity media. I use CD-R for all the typical data types, documents, music, photos, etc . I do agree access to a DVDR's good I just don't think it needs to be necessarily portable, but that's just me.

Nope- but often work with database files, and disk image files and exchange/outlook .pst files. The company I work for deals with email archiving and storage and often run into serveral GB of data I need to move about.

You may say- "well get an iPod or an external USB drive" but I often have to move stuff to intel servers, mostly dell, that still don't support USB2- much less firewire.
     
MrForgetable
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May 27, 2005, 09:15 PM
 
one thing i wish i had gotten would be a superdrive. well, i made the decision based on what i needed back then, i didn't think i needed a DVD burner since i never even had a CD burner up to that point so I thought it would be good enough. boy.. the uses today! i can back up my entire harddrive in 10 disks or just 5 with DL!
iamwhor3hay
     
vinster
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May 28, 2005, 01:35 AM
 
...
( Last edited by vinster; May 28, 2005 at 02:10 PM. )
     
vinster
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May 28, 2005, 03:40 AM
 
Originally Posted by Paco500
Nope- but often work with database files, and disk image files and exchange/outlook .pst files. The company I work for deals with email archiving and storage and often run into serveral GB of data I need to move about.

You may say- "well get an iPod or an external USB drive" but I often have to move stuff to intel servers, mostly dell, that still don't support USB2- much less firewire.
I don't get this. Why would you need a powerbook w/ superdrive to move stuff to intel servers?

Please clarify.
     
tooki
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May 28, 2005, 11:59 AM
 
Originally Posted by vinster
... this is because the UJ-8XX's are one of the only series of DVD drives without hacked region-free firmware (perhaps Panasonic's afraid of someone reverse-engineering their RPC technology if they make an updater utility). .)
Umm, as a blanket statement that is incorrect. There is region-free firmware for the UJ-815 and UJ-816 models, which are definitely part of that series.

The guy who hacked those has stopped doing it, but I assume someone will pick up the slack.

tooki
     
vinster
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May 28, 2005, 01:19 PM
 
Originally Posted by tooki
Umm, as a blanket statement that is incorrect. There is region-free firmware for the UJ-815 and UJ-816 models, which are definitely part of that series.

The guy who hacked those has stopped doing it, but I assume someone will pick up the slack.

tooki
You're correct, it's the UJ-82X and above that don't have region-free updaters.
     
mad cow disease
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May 28, 2005, 02:23 PM
 
Originally Posted by npeterh
I have been looking at the 15 inch PB for some time and unless Steve presents an upgrade at WWDC I will probably put in an order for a 15 inch by then.
However I am torn between the combo and the Super drive since there is a $300 difference.
It is possible to get a LaCie external drive for less than $200 that do Dual Layer and even if it is only the + format today it will probably come out witha - version soon.

Would you buy the Combo and save you money for an external DVD burner that can handle dual - discs in the future?

A friend of mine burned some + discs for me and my two DVD players for the tv refused to play any of them so until there is a dual layer - version I think it is a waste to burn any movies.

What do you think? Also, do you find the 15 inch too hot? Tried one in the Apple store and it felt substantially less hot than my old Pismo!

-Peter

P.S. I would love to see a 7448 upgrade at WWDC, more battery time and slightly faster would seal the deal for me!
The reason why the discs didn't work in your DVD players is because DVD-R discs are far more compatible with most TV-top DVD players than DVD+R are.

If you reburned them using -R discs I am sure you would find better results.

That said, I think given that you can put together a faster external DVD burner which is faster than the superdrive for less than $100, the superdrive isn't worth it unless you are constantly on the road and need to burn DVDs on the road.

Edit: I should add - the granddaddy of all external enclosures is the AMS Electronics Venus, which is available in Firewire/USB form for around $55.
     
ccsccs7
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May 28, 2005, 02:53 PM
 
I got the SuperDrive with my Powerbook. I've yet to use it, but I like more stuff to be built in, rather than having to attach something each time I wanted to use it. I use my portable on my lap while sitting on my bed a lot (or in the living room on the couch). Just having bluetooth built in is a lot better than having a dongle attached as I did with my iBook.
12" Powerbook 1.5GHz/SuperDrive, 1.25GB Ram, 80GB HD, Airport Extreme, Mac OS X 10.4.11 Tiger
iBook (Late 2001)600MHz/Combo, 640MB RAM, 20GB HD, Airport, Mac OS X 10.3.9 Panther — web server
     
Paco500
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May 28, 2005, 10:11 PM
 
Originally Posted by vinster
I don't get this. Why would you need a powerbook w/ superdrive to move stuff to intel servers?

Please clarify.
It's kind of a unique situation. I sometimes have to get large amounts of data from a client site to a test environment with no network connection (by design, for security and data integrity). Most of the servers in this environment are Dells, which have only USB 1.1. The standard we have for moving stuff around in here is DVD-R. The company issued Dell laptops don't have DVD write capability, so the others I work with either carry an external burner with them or bring the data back on the laptop and then burn it on a disc back in the office. I take my personal PB with me (leaving my dell in a desk drawer where it can do the least harm) and save myself a step. It could be worked around, and it doesn't come up too often, but it saves a step or two.
     
vinster
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May 30, 2005, 02:08 AM
 
Originally Posted by Paco500
It's kind of a unique situation. I sometimes have to get large amounts of data from a client site to a test environment with no network connection (by design, for security and data integrity). Most of the servers in this environment are Dells, which have only USB 1.1. The standard we have for moving stuff around in here is DVD-R. The company issued Dell laptops don't have DVD write capability, so the others I work with either carry an external burner with them or bring the data back on the laptop and then burn it on a disc back in the office. I take my personal PB with me (leaving my dell in a desk drawer where it can do the least harm) and save myself a step. It could be worked around, and it doesn't come up too often, but it saves a step or two.
I can see where this would require a DVDR.

I work at an ISP and our managed-hosting and networking teams all use powerbooks. They run into this kind of stuff, too, but most of the time are able to use a network connection to do the transfers. We get asked all the time to either put large amounts of data on or take it off of servers using CDR/DVDR. Problem is that most servers lack built-in optical drives. Therefore customers are actually better off transferring the data themselves via the Internet, yet it's can be difficult convincing them to do this at times.
     
JoshuaZ
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Jun 2, 2005, 09:50 PM
 
Externals are super cheap, and super fast, but not super portable. Thats all that matters.
     
   
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