Originally Posted by dr_Jezz
and we're back to connecting to the internet umbilical ... interesting though.
Only if you actually replace the hard drive. Otherwise, the installer/recovery partition is available w/out internet connectivity. You could also copy the disk image of the recovery partition to a USB stick if you wanted a more permanent solution.
The fact is that Apple is simply moving the optical drive out of their small portables. Even Apple's own fancy aluminum external Super Drive is only $79.
From a portability standpoint, it makes perfect sense...the physical volume to storage capacity ratio is extremely high for an optical drive.
This happened with the floppy drive as well...lot's of people complained when Apple got rid of it, but it's certainly not missed these days.
It is the nature of Apple to be forward thinking, even if it means lack of legacy support. It's never been any different, and it's never going to change.