iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Plextor PX-708A DVD±RW/DVD±R Drive Review

October 10, 2003

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. 

Plextor PX-708A


  • Read formats supported. 
    • DVD: DVD-ROM, DVD-Video, Multiborder, Multisession, DVD+VR, DVD-VR (Read only)
    • CD: CD-DA, CD-Extra, CD-ROM Mode-1, CD-ROM Mode-2, CD-ROM XA, Photo-CD, Video-CD, Multisession, CD TEXT, CD-I, CD+G, UDF 

  • Write speeds. 
    • DVD-R: 4 X CLV 
    • DVD-RW: 2 X CLV 
    • DVD+R: 8X 
    • DVD+RW: 4 X 
    • CD-R: 40 X 
    • CD-RW: 24 X 

  • Write methods: 
    • CD: Track At Once, Session At Once, Disc At Once, Packet Writing, Mount Rainier 
    • DVD-R/RW: Disc At Once, Restricted Overwriting, Incremental Recording, Multi-border Recording
    • DVD+R/RW: Sequential Write, Random Access Write, Multisession, Mount Rainier 

  • Read speeds (max). 
    • DVD-ROM: 12 X 
    • CD-ROM/R: 40 X 

  • Access time (Random Average) 
    • DVD: <150 Msec 
    • CD: <100 Msec 

  • Interface: ATAPI (EIDE) support U-DMA mode 2/PIO-Mode 4 
  • Data buffer: 2 Mbytes 
  • Mounting: horizontal and vertical. 
  • MTBF: 60.000 (12%) 
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 146 x 41.3 x 190 mm 
  • Weight: 1.2 kg. 

The drive has a pack of features traditional for all Plextor's optical drives.

  • PoweRec (Plextor Optimized Writing Error Reduction Control) controls speed and quality of recording of CD-R media. 
  • VariRec allows personalizing sound when burning Audio CD.
  • Supports Lossless Linking (DVD+R/RW) /Zero Link (DVD-R/RW) - these similar technologies allow avoiding blank space on a disc if recording was interrupted.

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. 

Software supplied: 

  • Pinnacle Studio 8.6 SE - all types of video operations: capture, editing and recording on CD and DVD. 
  • NERO 6 - one of the most popular programs for handling CD and DVD recorders.
  • Power DVD 4 - one of the most popular software players for DVD-Video, Video CD and multimedia files. 
  • PlexTools - provides the most complete information on a drive used and configures it the best way. 

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 v6.0.0.9. 

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. 

Test results

DVD recording

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. 

DVD-R recording 
Drive burning at 1x, min. burning at 2x, min. burning at 4x, min.
Plextor PX-708A 59:48 29:40 14:57
TEAC DV-W50D 57:43 24:23 14:48

Drive fast cleaning, min. burning at 1x, min. burning at 2x, min.
Plextor PX-708A 00:28 59:12 29:48
TEAC DV-W50D 00:30 57:28 27:46

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. 

DVD+R recording
Drive burning at 2.4x, min. burning at 4x, min. burning at 8x, min.
Plextor PX-708A 24:05 14:34 9:40(*)
TEAC DV-W50D 23:14 14:02 --:--

* The time of burning 4X DVD+R media at 8X depends a lot on a manufacturer; below are data on some of them:

  • Verbatim 4X (Verbatim) - 9:40
  • Philips 4X (Ricoh) - 10:41
  • Plextor 4X(Taiyo Yuden) - 8:10

DVD+RW recording
Drive fast cleaning, min. burning at 2.4x, min. burning at 4x, min.
Plextor PX-708A 00:24 24:05 14:52
TEAC DV-W50D 00:21 23:12 --:--

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 8x burn speed (Philips)

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 (Philips)

  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 problems. 

Plextor PX-708A, DVD+RW 2.4x burn speed (Philips)

  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


Test DVD reading

Plextor PX-708A 1-layer DVD (stampled DVD-Data)

  TEAC DV-W50D Plextor PX-708A
Average speed  9.41x CAV 9.06x CAV
Random Seek 142 ms 98 ms
Full Seek 319 ms 168 ms
CPU usage (Max Speed) 3 % 4 %
SpinUp Time 0.01 sec 2.91 sec
SpinDown Time 4.32 sec 4.31 sec
Disc Recognition Time 9.23 sec 10.26 sec

Plextor PX-708A 2-layer DVD (stampled DVD-Video)

  TEAC DV-W50D Plextor PX-708A
Average speed  2.06x CAV 6.25x CAV
Random Seek 147 ms 146 ms
Full Seek 323 ms 198 ms
CPU usage (Max Speed) 1 % 2 %
SpinUp Time 0.01 sec 1.71 sec
SpinDown Time 2.51 sec 3.05 sec
Disc Recognition Time 12.18 sec 14.12 sec
Layer Change Time 24 ms 75 ms

The drive limits the speed at 2x for DVD-Video. It's really good for watching movies as it eliminates noise, but it's inconvenient for making backup copies. However you can avoid it by pressing and holding the eject button for 3 sec when there's no disc in the tray (unfortunately, I found out it not in the manual but in one of the Internet forums). 

Reading of recordable DVD

DVD+R reading

Plextor PX-708A

DVD+RW reading

Plextor PX-708A

DVD-R reading

Plextor PX-708A

DVD-RW reading

Plextor PX-708A

The drive flawlessly reads all types of recordable media. It also works excellently with multiborder DVD media. 

DVD Video copying with Smart Ripper

CD-RW drive Average speed
TEAC DV-W50D 1.9 X
Plextor PX-708A 5.4 X

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. 

Mirex 48x
Disc Type = CDR (B-)
Nominal = 702.83MB (79m 59s 74f/LBA:359849)
Manufacturer = Plasmon Data Systems Ltd.

Disc Type = CDR
Nominal = 702.83MB (79m 59s 74f/LBA:359849)
Manufacturer = SKC Co., Ltd.

Aopen 52x
Disc Type = CDR (A-) 
Nominal = 702.82MB (79m 59s 70f/LBA:359845)
Manufacturer = RiTEK Corporation

Verbatim 48x
Disc Type = CDR (A+) 
Nominal = 702.83MB (79m 59s 74f/LBA:359849)
Manufacturer = Mitsubishi Chemicals Corporation

The burning results will be partially represented in the graphical form.

Recording on the Plextor PX-708A ( Mirex 48x, phthalocyanine)

  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. 

CD-R disc TEAC DV-W50D Plextor PX-708A
Philips 32x 5:32 3:23
Verbatim 48x 5:30 3:28
Mirex 48x 5:31 3:30
SKC 4x 21:24 21:09

To extend the picture, I added the results of the eproformance CD-RW 10x and Verbatim 24x. 

Nominal = 702.83MB (79m 59s 74f/LBA:359849)
Manufacturer = Plasmon Data Systems Ltd.

Nominal = 656.40MB (74m 43s 00f/LBA:336075)
Manufacturer = Mitsubishi Chemicals Corporation

Recording on the Plextor PX-708A (eproformance 10x CD-RW)

  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. 

eproformance 10x 

CD-RW drive Burn time (min.) Formatting time (min.)
Plextor PX-708A 9:20 10:08
TEAC DV-W50D 10:15 12:48

Verbatim 24x

CD-RW drive Burn time (min.) Formatting time (min.)
Plextor PX-708A 8:02 6:40

The drive supports the Mt.Rainier format that is why we additionally tested its operation with CD-RW drives in this format.

Recording on the Plextor PX-708A
Disc Burn time (new disc) Burn time (formatted disc)
eproformance 10x 15:38 12:31
Verbatim 24x 13:14 11:36

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. 

CD-RW drive Formatting time (min.) Burn time (min.)
Plextor PX-708A 8:45 5:47
TEAC DV-W50D 9:05 5:54

The drive successfully reads and records 80mm discs. 

Reading of the recorded discs on the Lite-On drive with KProbe

Reading of the Philips CD-R recorded on Plextor PX-708A 

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. 

Verbatim 48x
Disc Type = CDR (A+) 
Lead In = 97:34:23
Lead Out = 79:59:74
Nominal = 702.83MB (79m 59s 74f/LBA:359849)
Manufacturer = Mitsubishi Chemicals Corporation

Intenso 99 min
Disc Type = CDR (A-)
Lead In = 96:43:37
Lead Out = 79:59:74
Nominal = 702.83MB (79m 59s 74f/LBA:359849)
Manufacturer = RiTEK Corporation

CD-RW drive 80 min CD-R 99 min CD-R
Plextor PX-708A 81:45.54 91:04.38
TEAC DV-W50D 81:22.45 81:25.05

CD reading parameters

CDWinBench 99

  Plextor PX-708A TEAC DV-W50D
Winmark 2270 1210
Inside transfer 2930 Kb/s 2420 Kb/s
Outside transfer 5770 Kb/s 4670 Kb/s
CPU Utilization  2.01 % 1.56 %
Access Time 85.8 ms 116 ms


Test CD reading Plextor PX-708A

  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 % 
SpinUp Time 0.01 3.02
SpinDown Time 1.20 4.11
Disc Recognition Time 1.14 sec 0.01 sec
Accurate stream Yes Yes

CD-ROM Drive Analyzer

CD-R reading
Plextor PX-708A

CD-RW reading
Plextor PX-708A

Low-quaity CD reading
Plextor PX-708A

CD audio track extraction (CDDAE 99, EAC)

Plextor PX-708A
Average extraction speed 27,4x  6,3x 
Total errors  0.00% 0.00%


Advanced DAE Quality(Nero CD-Speed)

Plextor PX-708A drive

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. 

DAE Quality (EAC)

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. 

Plextor PX-708A drive

    Plextor PX-708A
  • Errors total Num : 1637081
  • Errors (Loudness) Num : 31284 - Avg : -56.7 dB(A) - Max : -7.3 dB(A)
  • Error Muting Num : 20196 - Avg : 2.5 Samples - Max : 345 Samples
  • Skips Num : 556 - Avg : 17.6 Samples - Max : 1446 Samples
  • Total Test Result : 56.4 points (of 100.0 maximum)

Direct copying of information from 780 MB CD-R to HDD

The drive successfully copied the contents of the 780MB drive without any errors. 

Plextor PX-708A drive

Copy time

  • TEAC DV-W50D - 6 min. 12 sec. 
  • Plextor PX-708A - 5 min. 50 sec. 

Drive's physical characteristics 


CD-RW drive Tray CD-Seek CD total DVD-Seek DVD total
Plextor PX-708A 9/10 7/10 8/10 8/10 8/10

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.

Thermal conditions

CD-RW drive T inside PC case, C T of the upper surface, C T of the lower surface, C
Plextor PX-708A 36 49 48

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.

Vibration in case of unbalanced CDs

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. 

Roman Shelepov (srl@ixbt.com)

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