Although fall is a pretty dull season, the optical drives market looks brisk. You can see not only clones of NEC's and Pioneer's drives, but also unique solutions from companies which earlier made a good showing. Some time ago we tested Toshiba's drive and today we have a long awaited multiformat DVD recorder from Plextor. The new drive is not an original solution, but it's a current leader in the sphere of DVD recorders. This is the first drive able to burn DVD+R media at 8X.
The drive has a pack of features traditional for all Plextor's optical drives.
The front-panel appearance is identical to the design of the whole series of Plextor's DVD recorders. The black tray is a distinguishing feature of Plextor's products.
According to the company, such color reduces C1 errors and jitter. The tray has a dustproof layer which also reduces a noise level. On the back you can see a digital audio-out.
Apart from the drive the box contains two software CDs, Plextor 4x DVD+R, IDE cable, analog audio cable, screws and a couple of leaflets.
We had a good chance to look inside the drive: it was very interesting to find out what components the first 8x drive was built on.
The drive is built on Sanyo's chipset and pickup. Below you can see its internal design.
The label on top tells us about the time and place of production.
The installation caused no problems. A user is offered a standard procedure,
like that of an ordinary CD-ROM drive. The drive needs no special drivers.
You can use, for example, NeroBurning Rom v184.108.40.206.
Now let's use other utilities to get more information on the drive; for example, Nero Infotool, which tells what formats and disc types the drive supports:
As you can see from the screenshot, the drive is RPC-1 and according to http://www.rpc1.com/ it's still impossible to turn it into RPC-1 by changing the firmware version. But you can use the DVD Region free program which fully controls the regional protection.
In case of this drive you don't need to use the Nero InfoTool as the PlexTool supplied provides much more information.
EAC (EAC Configuration Wizard) tells us about Audio CDs.
As you can see, there's a certain disagreement regarding the drive's ability to warn about C2 errors, and it's possible that the EAC doesn't support yet full-value operation with this chipset.
As this is a multiformat drive, we will test its operation with discs of every format in turn. The first to be tested are DVD-R discs as they are produced by a great number of various companies, and therefore often have writing problems. First of all we tested drive's compatibility with the discs from non-brandname companies. The drive successfully recognized and recorded most of them, in particular, it perfectly deals with Princo 4x DVD-R media and burns 1x discs from Princo, Mirex, Digitex at 2x.
Below is the burn time of the DVD-R/RW media.
Now we will try to burn DVD+R/RW media. Traditionally, companies producing media remain behind drive makers, and the market doesn't offer yet 8X DVD+R or 4X DVD+RW discs. But we were lucky as we had a 4X DVD+RW disc supplied together with Lite-On's DVD+R/RW drive that lately came in our lab.
Plextor says that we can burn DVD+R media certified for 4X recording at 8X. Well, we have an excellent opportunity to experiment with 4X discs.
We also tried DVD+R under the SKY trade mark. Companies making DVD+R media are much fewer than those manufacturing DVD-R discs, that is why a new player on the market always stirs up interest.
* The time of burning 4X DVD+R media at 8X depends a lot on a manufacturer; below are data on some of them:
All DVDs recorded passed the control reading test on two reference DVD-ROM drives Toshiba SD-M1712 and Pioneer DVD-117LJ. The tests on the home DVD player BBK 916 revealed no problems with reading, the movies were played without artifacts.
Now let's see how the Lite-On drive deals with the discs recorded. The KProbe utility will help us estimate a level of C1/C2 errors.
Here are two pairs of 4X DVD+R discs, one burnt at 4X, the other at 8X.
Plextor PX-708A, DVD+R 4x burn speed (Philips)
Plextor PX-708A, DVD+R 8x burn speed (Plextor)
Plextor PX-708A, DVD+R 4x burn speed (Plextor)
Well, there are certainly more errors on the discs recorded at 8x, but there
is no considerable difference and we consider that media certified for 4x
recording can be successfully used for 8x one.
Plextor PX-708A, DVD+R 2.4x burn speed (SKY)
The quality of SKY's DVD+R media is good, but the test drive had some read
problems at the end of some discs. Testing of SKY's DVD-R media revealed the same
Plextor PX-708A, DVD+RW 4x burn speed (Ricoh)
Plextor PX-708A, DVD-R 1x burn speed (Princo)
Plextor PX-708A, DVD-R 2x burn speed (Princo)
Plextor PX-708A, DVD-R 2x burn speed (Fujifilm)
Plextor PX-708A, DVD-R 4x burn speed (Princo)
Plextor PX-708A, DVD-R 4x burn speed (TDK)
Plextor PX-708A, DVD-RW 2x burn speed (TDK)
DVD media reading
NERO DVD Speed
Test DVD reading
Reading of recordable DVD
The drive flawlessly reads all types of recordable media. It also works excellently with multiborder DVD media.
DVD Video copying with Smart Ripper
To reach the maximum DVD video copying speed you should do the same as with the 2-layer DVD-Video discs.
CD-R & CD-RW media tests
CD burning time
Traditionally, we used two types of media - with cyanine and phthalocyanine coating. The number of the trade marks were lift up to 4, 2 of each type, to provide more information of how the drive treats discs of different trade marks. Below is the ATIP for the discs tested.
The burning results will be partially represented in the graphical form.
Recording on the Plextor PX-708A ( Aopen 52x, phthalocyanine)
Recording on the Plextor PX-708A ( Verbatim 48x, cyanine)
We also tested the drive's ability to burn cyanine discs at the minimal
speed as this mode is often used by audiophiles to ensure high record quality.
To extend the picture, I added the results of the eproformance CD-RW 10x and Verbatim 24x.
Recording on the Plextor PX-708A (Verbatim 24x CD-RW)
Time of CD-RW full formatting in UDF with InCD ver. 4.0.17
CD-RW recording in UDF format, 530 Mb test packet in 3000 files.
The drive supports the Mt.Rainier format that is why we additionally tested its operation with CD-RW drives in this format.
Burning of the discs in the Mt.Rainier format is pretty slow, I hope the speed will increase in the new firmware versions.
Operation with 80mm CDs (CD-RW disc used), formatting and recording in UDF
Formatting and recording of the 80mm CD-RW disc in UDF, 4x write speed.
The drive successfully reads and records 80mm discs.
Reading of the recorded discs on the Lite-On drive with KProbe
Reading of the Verbatim CD-R recorded on Plextor PX-708A
Reading of the Mirex CD-R recorded on Plextor PX-708A
Reading of the SKC CD-R recorded on Plextor PX-708A
Reading of the eproformance 10x CD-RW recorded on Plextor PX-708A
Reading of the Verbatim 24x CD-RW recorded on Plextor PX-708A
The test scores obtained with the professional station CDCATS SA3 will soon be published as well.
The discs used have the following ATIP.
Intenso 99 min
CD reading parameters
|TEAC DV-W50D||Plextor PX-708A|
|Average speed||25.29 CAV||32.07 CAV|
|Random Seek||128 ms||97 ms|
|Full Seek||297 ms||173 ms|
|CPU Usage 8X||5 %||5 %|
|Disc Recognition Time||1.14 sec||0.01 sec|
|Average extraction speed||27,4x||6,3x|
The detailed information on the tested parameters is given in the help file to the Nero CD Speed test program. If you don't want to download the utility, then here you can find the HTMl help file.
This test was made by the developer of the EAC, and it's called DAE Quality (here's its description). In short, it measures quality of audio data extraction and quality of C2 error processing with a special test disc. In this case it's impossible to measure C2 processing quality, just look at the general data on quality of audiotrack extraction.
The drive successfully copied the contents of the 780MB drive without any errors.
|CD-RW drive||Tray||CD-Seek||CD total||DVD-Seek||DVD total|
The drive is pretty quiet except those cases when it works with CDs which are not properly balanced and when it works at the maximum speed. You can adjust the noise level with the PlexTools.
|CD-RW drive||T inside PC case, C||T of the upper surface, C||T of the lower surface, C|
The drive doesn't get too hot even when used a lot. But be careful when placing other devices close to it as they can burn.
The drive vibrated when it worked with such disc; nevertheless, it managed to finish its reading without errors at high speed.
This Plextor's model is a very efficient solution. It's the first drive
of the new wave of high-speed DVD recorders that should soon replace old
models. The drive pretty well records all types of DVD and CD media. I'm
glad the drive allows recording 4X DVD+R discs at 8X without quality losses.
This is the first DVD drive able to record 24X CD-RW, and it also quickly
burns CD-Rs, that is why it can actually replace several devices. I have
no complaints about its operation. The only disadvantage is its high price
($270-320), but I don't think it will remain such high as the competitors
are wide awake.
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