While 'optical drive' sounds like a big fancy word, it's something you've heard of and use often. More commonly known as a CD or DVD drive, the optical drive is the part of the computer that reads said discs. If you're looking to purchase a computer, or compare specs, it's important to know what you'll need from the drive. Here's a quick breakdown of what different types of optical drives and their capabilities.
- CD-ROM - This drive will play CDs. This includes audio discs, software, or any information stored on a CD.
- CD-R - Just the 'R,' means this is recorable. You can burn info or music onto the CD. Once the disc is burnt, that info will remain on it. It's not possible to redo or go back. Can hold about 700MB of data.
- CD-RW - A rewritable disc drive. If using CD-RW discs, you can rewrite data to the disc, even if it's been done before.
- DVD-ROM - Same as the CD-ROM, but it plays DVDs. This includes movie playback and software.
- DVD-R/RW - Yep, it's the same as the CDs. Burnable, and/or rewritable. Can hold about 4GB of data.
- BD - Blu-ray. Newer laptops may have a Blu-ray drive built in. Blu-ray is similar to a DVD. It plays back HD video, and has a much higher storage capacity.