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The Missing Drive

August 4, 2011 - Dave Hecei
There is a new mini from Apple, and it is sweet. It looks pretty much the same on the outside. Inside there are faster processors, thanks to the new ‘Sandy Bridge’ line from Intel. There is one thing that is missing though – an optical drive/burner.

With the new Mac mini, Apple has done away with the optical SuperDrive of the past. The obvious thought is that Apple wants us all to buy our movies from iTunes and software from the Mac App Store. This may eventually be the norm, but the lack of an optical drive is harsh. This does knock the weight down slightly, along with the price tag (the base mini drops from $699 to $599). But what if you still really need a burner?

You could, of course, purchase the Apple External SuperDrive intended for the MacBook Air, which also does not have an optical drive. This is a nice drive and styled in the typical Apple style, meaning it matches the look of the aluminum Macs. This drive is great, but it is priced a bit high at $79.

My first Mac mini did come with an optical drive, but it is the combo drive, not a SuperDrive. The combo drive can burn CDs but only read DVDs. To add DVD burning to my mini I bought a Samsung portable USB DVD writer. The current Samsung model is the Samsung SE-S084F Slim External DVD Writer. It is quite small, thin, and lightweight. The best part is that it works great with Mac OS X and can be found online ( or for under $35.

Of course, at this price the Samsung does not come with any Mac software. Natively, the Mac OS can burn data CDs and DVDs. In iTunes and, if you still have it, iDVD, you will be able to burn discs there too. For the most versatility, Roxio Toast is the best disc burning software package for the Mac. It  does so much more than just burn data, too much to get into here. The current version of is Toast 11 and I’ve seen a low street price of $69.99


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