If your laptop shopping list includes a touch screen, SSD storage, or even NFC, finding a new system shouldn't be hard. But if you're still tied to your optical discs and need a DVD or Blu-ray drive, that's another story. This once-ubiquitous feature is hard to find in new Windows 8 laptops, largely restricted to older models that have had Win 8 slapped onto them and to a handful of larger desktop replacements.
As laptops continue to get thinner, a charge led by ultrabooks and the MacBook Air (and the MacBook Pro with Retina Display), I suspect we'll see fewer and fewer optical drives.
Slot-loading drives are easier to fit into a small chassis than tray-loading ones, but like Ethernet ports, optical drives may become an added cost that PC makers feel most shoppers can live without, thanks to online gaming, music, and movie services, and the growth of cloud computing.
Since the launch of Windows 8, we've reviewed only a handful of laptops that include optical drives. The list below gives our favorites, and a few that weren't quite as warmly received.… Read more