Although an original member of the Blu-ray Disc Association, Apple has never embraced the format, calling it a “bag of hurt” and preferring to guide customers towards its own “high definition” content via the iTunes Store. Mac owners could still use Blu-ray optical drives, although there was no official support in OS X for the commercial Blu-ray video format.
Still, determined fans of high quality, and high capacity, optical media resigned themselves to attaching external Blu-ray drives to their iMacs or MacBooks via USB or FireWire. Mac Pro owners also had the opportunity to install an internal Blu-ray drive.
These solutions worked, but were clunky (except for the lucky Mac Pro owners). Now, just as Apple is moving away from optical discs entirely, California-based MCE Technologies has finally delivered what many Mac owners have long dreamed of: an internal Blu-ray drive. The slot-loading drive is compatible with the previous breeds of iMacs (Early 2009 through Late 2011) and Mac minis (Late 2009 through Mid 2010) for $79.99.
Installation of any components aside from RAM in an iMac or Mac mini is relatively challenging, and requires the removal of many delicate components. Those with some experience in upgrading or repairing computers should still find the process doable, especially when performed using the excellent step-by-step guides at iFixit. Those not inclined to open their Macs can also have the drive installed at one of MCE’s facilities or authorized upgrade centers.
Once installed, movie fans can begin playing commercial Blu-ray discs via the included playback software, or use other means to access the video data for backup to a media server (as long as backing up commercial discs complies with your local laws).
Unfortunately, Apple is moving beyond optical disc technology, and it would not be surprising to see the non-Retina MacBooks Pro lose their optical drive as part of expected upgrades at the company’s WWDC in June. For consumers with older Macs, however, the MCE Internal Blu-ray Player will be a welcomed addition and a relatively inexpensive upgrade for those who need or want Blu-ray support.
So get rid of that distracting external Blu-ray drive and check out the MCE’s internal drive, which begins shipping May 27.