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Manufacturers shun SATA optical drives

Rant Stupid drive makers, no cookie
Tue Jul 04 2006, 11:20
OK, TECH COMPANIES are dumb as rocks, and will usually cost-cut themselves into a corner, and then whine about it.

Often, these self-inflicted wounds earn the high praise of the paid-for review sites, and the scorn of the honest ones. On that note, today's p*ssed-off rant is about S-ATA optical drives, or the lack thereof.

Anyone with half a brain will realise that IDE has gone the way of the dodo and compassionate conservative. It's yesterday's news. If you can get a new enthusiast mobo with a second IDE connector, consider yourself fortunate. One is vastly more common. Add in that the next-gen south bridges probably won't support any IDE, but will have plenty of S-ATA ports, and you have what is called a clear trend.

So, your next mobo will probably have eight SATA ports and no IDE. And that is a good thing. SATA is faster, better featured and, in general, better in every way. To top it off, it has tiny cables that are not the routing and airflow nightmare the IDE cables were. Yay, progress!

What is the problem? Find me a )#($*# SATA optical drive. OK, Plextor has two but last time I looked closely, they sported an IDE to SATA converter welded on the back of a normal drive. That may have changed, but the price at the local shop was $155, so I went for the Lite-On at $39.99. Plextor makes great stuff, but I'll take a Lite-On, an IDE card, and a 250Gb HD for the same money, thank you.

So, optical drive makers, all barring Plextor, have a terminal case of recto-cranial inversion. It can't just be me, I hear people bitching about this all the time. It can't be price. Most SATA HDs have a $5 price premium, and I would bet good money that it is just the manufacturers milking margins. How long will it be before IDE is more expensive? Still, the optical folk are doing the whole ostrich thing, and trying to, well, I don't know what they are trying to accomplish, but more sales are not part of it.

Then came the final straw, I was reading a review on the DRM-infected Blu-Ray drives, specifically this one, a fine review of a rather awful product. Can someone please tell me why Pioneer, maker of a $1000 Blu-Ray, cutting edge, rights-removing DRM-infected, high-tech, next-gen, way-cool drive made the #_)$(# thing IDE? How many high end luxury PCs that are going to be equipped with one of these will not have billions of SATA ports?

More quick looks around the Net show that all of these 'next-gen' DRM-infected drives, both Blu-Ray and HD-DVD are IDE, not a single SATA one to be found! How stupid are these manufacturers? I mean, I can understand the infliction of DRM, the masses are that stupid, but to think they won't notice the lack of SATA? Daft.

What is it going to take? Intel has already announced south bridges that lack IDE, and you can be sure NVidia, ATI, Via and Sis are not far behind on anything but the low-end chipsets.

How many months after you can't get IDE any more will the optical nitwits actually make an affordable SATA drive? Will they even bother?

This can't be a cunning plot to shove everyone to the next-gen parts. It can't be price - on a $1000 drive, $10 more isn't going to break the bank, trust me on this. Someone buying an AMD FX with quad-SLI and RAIDed Raptors is probably going to want one of the new DRM-infection drives to go with that 30-inch screen. $5K computer buyers don't quibble about $10. Then again, even at $100 price premiums, you can't get them with SATA.

There seems to be no other reason for this than abject stupidity. Sony, for one, seems to be really good at this, just ask the PS3 guys, or the rootkit division, or any of the other contenders for foot-gun marksman of the decade at the company. With ten or so companies making all sorts of drives, at least one must have two brain cells to rub together, right?

Sadly, actions speak louder than words, and you can't get any SATA optical drives other than those from Plextor. I guess I should be celebrating the one company that gets it, but instead, the crushing weight of industry-wide stupidity has worn me down. Maybe I should become a monk or something, my brain hurts way too much now. µ


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