Any notebook comes with at least a CDROM drive, and most modern ones actually have the option of either a CDRW or a DVD drive. Naturally these drives are standard off-the-shelf parts and as such can be easily replaced. For example a CDROM drive can be replaced by a DVD drive fairly simple. Because notebook chipsets usually only feature a single IDE-channel most notebook drives come with CSEL, which stands for ‘cable select’, firmware that’ll auto configure the drive as a slave when a master device is already present, such as a harddisk. All CDROM, DVD and Combo drives use the same 50-pin ATAPI connector that combines the power and IDE-connector as found on regular drives.
Fig 2. 50-pin ATAPI connector that combines the power and IDE-connector as found on regular drives. All notebook drives use this connector.
Naturally a true road warrior doesn’t just have a DVD or CDROM drive, but a Combo drive featuring DVD, and CDRW. Toshiba actually just released a new drive, the SD-R2102, to the market that supports 24x Read, 8x Write, 8x ReWrite and 8x DVD speeds and also comes with the BurnProof feature to make sure you’re able to make successful CD recordings. We've been evaluating this drive and it is ideally suited for anyone that needs a CDRW with up to 8x recording and a DVD drive. We’ve looked at a number of Combo drives but to our opinion this Toshiba combines the broadest feature set combined with an affordable price and most importantly it is available in stores and not just as an upgrade option when buying a new notebook.
Fig 3. Mounting a DVD, CDRW or Combo drive is straight forward, most manufacturers use a single screw to attach them to the notebook’s chassis and upon removal they simply slide in and out.
Exchanging your old CDROM drive for a Combo or a DVD drive is simple and straightforward. The majority of full size notebooks allow you to detach the keyboard and underneath there’s a single screw keeping the drive in place. Upon removing this screw you’ll be able to slide the drive in and out, making for a swift and easy upgrade. Be sure to check with your notebook’s manufacturer or service manual though, as not all use the same means to attach the drive.
More information about Toshiba’s SD-R2102 and other models can be found here: Toshiba Storage