Panasonic’s 9.5mm Blue-ray burner- wither slot load?

panny95bluray.jpgIn yet another case why slot-load drives which continue to be used by a few laptop manufacturers despite their notable problems– you can’t easily eject a bad disk, you can’t read optical disks from camcorders, you can’t read business card disks, loading and ejecting mechanisms die, yadda, yadda, yadda…

Panasonic takes Blu-ray burning from 12.7mm to the 9.5mm thinness that UMPCs just love…

pismobays.gifAs a PowerBook user, I’ve watched as Apple has taken away media bays, taken away tray-loading drives, and refused to adopt other I/O advances like media card slots. I can only guess that this is for the sake of clean “looks.”mbpclosed.jpg

Despite the fact that Apple does offer it’s laptops to “pro” users and touts their incredible capabilities, their focus on design falls flat when you note that other manufacturers offer pretty machines that simply offer more features for less money.

They offer pro users more built-in capability and usability with no compromise in terms of looks. In fact, some of them offer far more in terms of “design” than a simple silver slab.

dellat.jpg vs. mbpblack.jpg vs. vaiored.jpg

Apple itself is actually aware of this shortcoming and has filed patents for adapters to use smaller disks in the slot-loading drives. However, those adapters are still only for round disks, leaving the entire market of specialty-cut and oddly shaped disks (which carry media and information just fine) completely unplayable in slot-loading drives.


buscadcd.jpg vs. applepatent.gif

It’s really hard to be “my digital hub” when you can’t even load the optical media from the latest disk-based camcorders.

So here’s hoping that those companies that insist on using slow, noisy, capability-limited, slot-loading optical drives realize the dark alley their bigotry has taken them and adopt the cheaper, lighter, thinner, more capable, longer-lasting tray-loading optical drives.


5 thoughts on “Panasonic’s 9.5mm Blue-ray burner- wither slot load?

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  1. I really wish PC manufacturers wouldn’t make such flimsy trays though. Mine would deteriorate until they would eventually only work if you held them in manually at a certain angle.

  2. Flimsiness probably comes from the desire to make them as light as possible. As one of the few multi-mechanical devices on a laptop any more, perhaps they can afford a few extra ounces to make the optical drive durable.

    Anthony Burokas


  3. I actually disagree with your assessment of the reason for Apple’s use of slot loading drives and not adopting memory card slots and the like.

    Slot-loading: Trays are cumbersome, they do have a greater chance of breakdown due to stress on the gears and belts and have a common problem of opening accidently. Apple has always gone for the approach of removing anything that clicks in, moves out. While I share the pain of not being able to use mini-discs and the like… they are just not common place enough to worry about.

    Media Bays: the HUGE problem with memory cards – is that there are so many different sizes and standards for the slots. If the industry would have decided on a set standard – and stuck to that there might be a different story here. But Apple has had a long term strong stance on peripherals that lack standards adherences and longevity. They are early adopters to technologies that are set to be standards. Just take a look at USB, WiFi, and CardBus.

    Digital cameras have WiFi, USB, or 1394 connectors.. so the need for a media specific adopter is not really a concern. In fact, I am hard pressed to find any need for a media adapter at all and find that the use of the peripheral perfectly acceptable.

    Now here is to hoping that Apple can get the Panasonic drives down in price to be a viable option!!!


  4. Michael, I appreciate your thoughts, but Apple jumped on USB long before it was anywhere near as widespread as today. Yet, on laptops from numerous other manufacturers, tablet PCs, and phones, and portable media players, SD cards reign supreme.

    The advantage to having a dedicated media slot (an SD-sized slot slot can so SD, xD and sony’s Memory Stick with ease) is that you never have to worry about having the right cable for that particular camera. You can have 5 different digital still cameras that all use SD, and each one can have a different, unique cable connector.

    With regard to optical drives, the trays actually have fewer moving parts because there is no loading and ejecting mechanism, there is no pressure plate that holds the CD to the hub, etc. The tray has a spring that pops it open and a release pin. This pin can be released with a paper clip if the computer freezes, or if it is off. Can’t do that with Apple’s slot-load drives. The computer has to be on, and the OS has to be available to accept the “eject” input, in order for it to release the hub mechanism and then lift and push out the disk. That’s a LOT of moving parts.

    The tray-loading drives force the user to snap the disk to the center hub. The user has to push the tray back in till the mechanical pin locks back into place (like a door latch). After that, the only thing that has an actual motor is the optical head- and that’s pretty much required either way.

    So if I had to choose, I pick the one with fewer motorized parts, that can be released without computer help, that can handle more optical media, and has the prevalence in the market that helps push OEM prices down. I pick the tray-loading optical drive.

    But, obviously, Apple doesn’t see these things I mention as advantageous enough.

    — Anthony

  5. Just came back to your post… have to add in case you didn’t know.. there is a paperclip accessed ‘button’ for removing stuck media that does not require the computer to be turned on. :)

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