Ever since DVD burners came to the market, there has been a format duel between the + and – crowd. A lot of consumers held off purchasing a DVD burner because they wanted to wait and see which format would be dominant. Then, about a year ago several companies decided to bypass the format duel and they introduced dual format DVD burners. Now we don’t have to worry about which format is the best because we have the best of both worlds. Recently the duel has moved away from formats and is now focusing on speeds, mainly writing speeds. With the introduction of the PX-708A Plextor, the leader in CD Burners seems to be the leader in dual format DVD burners as well.
- 8-in-1 Combo drive: 8X DVD+R, 4X DVD-R, 4X DVD+RW, 2X DVD-RW, 12X DVD-ROM, 40X CD-R, 24X CD-RW AND 40X CD-ROM
- Lossless linking technology enables users to perform basic editing tasks directly on the DVD disk
- Buffer Under Run Proof technology prevents buffer under run errors
- PoweRec technology is a sophisticated write strategy providing superior quality recording at maximum speed for your chosen media
- Support DVD+RW background format
- Support DVD+VR format
- Horizontal or vertical mounting orientation
- Black CD tray minimizes jitter
- OS Support – Windows® 98SE/Me/2000/XP™
- One-year full warranty (parts and labor)
- Unlimited toll-free tech support
|Data Transfer Rate||Z-CLV and CLV write/CAV read and CLV read|
|Sustained Read/Write Speeds||8X (DVD+R only)||8.1-10.8 MB/sec|
|4X (DVD+/-R,+RW only)||5.4 MB/sec|
|2.4X (DVD+R/RW only)||3.24 MB/sec|
|2X (DVD-R/RW only)||2.7 MB/sec|
|5X-12X (DVD read only)||6.75-16.2 MB/sec|
|3X-8X (DVD read only)||4.05-10.8 MB/sec|
|2X-5X (DVD read only)||2.8-6.75 MB/sec (Playing DVD-Video)|
|2X (DVD read only)||2.7 MB/sec|
|40X (CD write only)||3-6 MB/sec|
|32X (CD write only)||3-4.8 MB/sec|
|24X (CD rewrite only)||3-3.6 MB/sec|
|17X-40X (CD read only)||2.71-6.0 MB/sec (Mode 1, Mode 2 Form 1 and CD-R)|
|16X (CD write only)||2.4 MB/sec (CD-R)|
|14X-32X (CD read only)||2.17-4.8 MB/sec (Mode 1, Mode 2 Form 1, CD-DA and CD-R)|
|10X (CD read only)||1.5 MB/sec (Mode 1, Mode 2 Form 1, CD-DA and CD-R)|
|10X (CD rewrite only)||1.5 MB/sec|
|8X (CD read/write)||1.2 MB/sec (Mode 2 Form 2 read only)|
|4X (CD write/rewrite/read)||600 KB/sec|
|Burst Read/Write||33 MB/sec (Ultra DMA Mode 2)|
|16.6 MB/sec (PIO Mode 4/DMA Mode 2)|
|Typical CD Random Access||<100 ms|
|Typical DVD Random Access||>150 ms|
|Error Rate||Mode 1: block/1012 bits, Mode 2: block/109 bits|
The Plextor PX-708A comes with several pieces of software, including Roxio Easy CD & DVD Creator 6, Roxio PhotoSuite 5 SE, Roxio DVDMax Player, Roxio Drag-to-disk and Dantz Retrospect (30-day trial version).
Roxio Easy CD & DVD Creator 6 combines the power of Easy CD Creator Basic and DVD Builder, an easy to learn DVD authoring package, into one complete solution. The flash tutorial will also provide quick and easy steps in creating an audio CD, data disk or digital video. Easy CD & DVD Creator 6 makes more of your digital media with this powerful, easy-to-use and fully integrated product!
Make DVD movies with professional transitions and animated menus to play on your home DVD player with DVD Builder™. Create personalized disk labels with Label Creator™. Save large data projects to multiple disks with Creator Classic or copy personal disks with disk Copier.
Roxio PhotoSuite 5 SE makes your digital photos better with a combination of automated tasks, professional-level editing tools, creative projects and CD burning fully integrated into one program.
Roxio Drag-to-disk Drag and drop files to CD and DVD media, just like with a hard drive or floppy.
Roxio DVDMax Player is an advanced software DVD player that enables anyone to enjoy video and audio playback entertainment on the PC. DVDMax Player delivers full support for all DVD/CD formats, a wide variety of video and audio formats, and can be utilized on virtually any media storage device.
Dantz Retrospect is a backup and restore solution designed for security. Retrospect protects against loss due to viruses, newly installed software, user error and damaged hardware.
PowerRec is Plextor’s writing technology that attempts to write a disk at the maximum speed possible without allowing errors to occur. If the drive finds a problem with the media, it will slow down the burn speed to prevent writing errors. The upside of this is an almost guaranteed quality burn, but you might not always reach the maximum drive speed.
SpeedRead is enabled by pressing and holding down the eject button for a few seconds. Once the LED has blinked 3 times, releasing the button will eject the tray. According to the user manual this feature is only used when the DVD disk uses CSS copy protection. “SpeedRead changes the default DVD read speed to 5X-12X for single layer DVD, or 3X-to 8X CAV for dual layer DVD disks.”
Buffer Under Run Proof is a widely adopted, and well known buffer under run technology. Combined with a 2MB buffer, errors are not going to occur very often.
The system that I am using to run the tests has an AMD 1700+ processor on an Asus A7V-266e motherboard. I also have a 100GB hard Disk and 768MB of RAM. The media that I am using all comes from Verbatim with the following model numbers, DVD-R #94375, DVD-RW #94501, DVD+R #94799, DVD+RW #93717. The only one that is not on the Plextor Recommended Media List is the DVD-RW media.
When I installed this drive for the first time, I put it in my computer and it worked like a charm. When Windows booted up, it found the new hardware and installed the drivers. I was very pleased with the ease of installing the drive.
While there are a lot of different media tests to perform there are not a lot of settings that can be changed. The most notable is SpeedRead, this is by default disabled and can only be enabled by holding down the eject button, and after the led on the front to the drive blinks 3 times releasing it. This causes the tray to open and you need to put your disk in and push the button to close the tray. You can disable SpeedRead by opening and closing the tray. According to the user manual SpeedRead only affects DVDs with CSS copy protection. This really serves no purpose for watching movies since they only read at 2x, and will only be beneficial for ripping movies and other files from your movie DVDs.
The first thing I did after I installed the drive, and before I started the tests was download and install the latest firmware upgrade on the Plextor web site. This upgrade ensures that I get the best possible tests and that the drive is compatible with the biggest variety of media.
To begin the tests I first wanted to see just how fast the drive really was. Since the DVD+R disks have the highest speed rating, I started testing those first. Since a lot of you will be using the drive to backup your movies I wanted to go through the process myself. I downloaded and installed a trial version of some movie backup software, loaded up my movie and a blank DVD+R media, and pushed the button and off it went. After about 15 minutes it completed the rip and after another 6 minute it completed the burn. I was very impressed with the speed of the process. I wanted to test the quality so I loaded up Nero CD-DVD Speed to check the read quality and was surprised when it failed to get more than halfway through the disk before it died. Not knowing whether it was the software or the disk I tried again, this time I ripped the movie to an ISO image and I used Roxio to burn the image. I used Roxio since it came bundled with the drive and Plextor must have confidence in the software. Again it finished and reported that it was able to burn at 8x which is impressive. I took that disk and put it into Nero and started the read. Again it failed to finish and I ended up with another dead disk.
This concerned me a bit since I was using media from the Plextor Recommended Media List. I started thinking that it might actually be that DVD+R media doesn’t like movies very much. So I put in another disk and had Nero burn a data disk. It started out great by writing at 6x, and then bumping up to 8x after it got about a third through. About halfway through, the software failed and crashed. I though it was weird so I tried again and it crashed at the same spot. I was really getting worried by now and I was running out of options for the DVD+R media. I went out to the Nero CD-DVD Speed website and found that there was a new version of CD/DVD speed. I downloaded that and tried again. This time the burn was successful, but I was not celebrating yet. Roxio and the movie software also completed successfully, but failed on the read. So I started the read test on Nero holding my breath as the test began and what do you know, but about a third through the test, it failed again. This was five DVD+R disks that I had tested and they all failed. I was very disappointed, but I still held hopes for the other media.
By now I was thinking that it must be the disks that are bad, so I moved on to try the DVD-R with the movie. I tried both the movie software and Roxio and they both completed successfully, albeit slightly slower since DVD-R only burns at 4X. Putting them into Nero gave much better results. Both the DVD-R disks read successfully. I moved on to having Nero burn me a data disk. Burning went very smoothly and the reading was clean also. Unfortunately they take a little longer then the DVD-R media, but at least they work.
Next I wanted to test the RW media, and I started with the DVD+RW. I wanted to give the + format another chance to redeem itself. I used Roxio’s drag and drop feature to gather a bunch of data files from my hard drive and write them the to disk. It took about 20 minute to write the disk but I found other things to do during that time. When I tried to eject the disk at the end of the write, the Roxio software wanted to hold on to it for another minute while it finalized everything and then it finally let go. I put the DVD+RW disk back in so I could run the read test on Nero and things started out well. It made it all the way through the reading, but when it got to the random seek part of the test, it failed and died. Not wanting to give up on the +RW media just yet, I decided to see if Nero could do better than Roxio. After Nero completed successfully, I started the read test. To my amazement it actually completed the read test and partially restored my faith in the +RW media.
Not wanting to press my luck I moved on to the DVD-RW media. I again first tried Roxio since this actually lets you burn normal files that you want for backup. It took about 30 minutes to burn the disk and after it was complete I ran the Nero tests, and those completed without any glitches. Again the – format is a little slower than the + format but at least it has worked every time. Since it worked on Roxio I almost didn’t want to run the tests on Nero, because they take so long, but I did anyways. Again the write and read tests were successful, and it was interesting to note that the Nero write achieved slightly higher read speeds than the Roxio write. I don’t know why, and I would not count on that to be the norm, but it was interesting.
I was going through the package that Plextor sent the drive in, and noticed that it came with a DVD+R disk. Since I had already gone through all my disks and they were bad, I figured that Plextor wouldn’t send a bad disk with the drive. So, I decided to do one more test on the DVD+R format. I put the disk in the drive and started Nero creating a data disk. Everything finished correctly and without errors. This isn’t new since most of the tests on the DVD+R format completed writing, it was the read tests that gave all the errors. After the write completed, I left the disk in the drive and started a read test. This time I really was holding my breath. This was the absolute last test I was going to do for the DVD+R and if this failed then it was all over. Well the test proceeded and it got to 1/4 complete with no errors, then 1/2 complete, 3/4 complete and finally 100% complete and all with no errors. I was absolutely amazed. I must have bought a bunch of bad disks or Plextor really does not support that version of the Verbatim DVD+R media.
Plextor does not offer anything special as far as a warranty goes. They keep to the standard of one year for parts and labor, and they have an extraordinary Unlimited toll-free tech support. This is better than some companies, but not the best in the industry either.
Overall this is a decent drive with good support for most of the formats. Except for the problems with the DVD+R and DVD+RW, this seems to be a great drive. It is hard to blame the problems only on the drive. It could easily be a combination of software and hardware. It could have even been the firmware that I downloaded when I began the testing. Considering that I did the last DVD+R test with a disk that Plextor provided I think it must have been that the drive just didn’t like those particular disks. Either way I am sure that you will have much better luck than I did, just don’t buy Verbatim DVD+R disks if you buy this drive, or wait for the next firmware release to see if plextor fixes the problem. Plextor has proven themselves in the past, and I want to give them the benefit of the doubt, so I say go ahead and get the drive but again watch out for bad and incompatible disks.
|JusTech'n editors' rating|