The Plextor PX-810SA DVD-RW SATA drive that I bought yesterday was not easy to find and it cost nearly 3 times the price of "run-of-the-mill" DVD burners from NEC, LiteOn or Samsung.
However, I figured that, in exchange for a premium price and a little effort, I would be getting the legendary Plextor quality. I had always wanted a reliable drive with good error-correction that can read anything you throw at it.
I submitted the Plextor PX-810SA to informal testing and the results have been quite poor. Here are the disadvantages of the product:
- The error-correction seems to be WORSE than my NEC ND-4571A, which I randomly picked up at a computer store without any research at all. To test this, I took a Verbatim CD-R disc, scratched it by sliding it on my desk while pressing on it with my hand, and attempted to copy a 700 MB file off it. Both the NEC and my old Pioneer DVD-ROM drive managed to read the file quite quickly. The Plextor would stop reading about halfway through, with the added "bonus" of freezing my system (see next point).
- On Windows XP (fully updated SP2 in good condition), whenever the Plextor has trouble reading or writing a disc, it freezes the entire system. You can move the mouse pointer, but you can't access the Start menu, use any application, cancel the copying process or even launch the Task Manager by pressing Ctrl-Alt-Del. The only solution is to press Eject on the drive, which makes everything go back to normal. Now, I don't know what's to blame -- whether it's the drive's firmware or perhaps faulty SATA support in Windows XP. All I know is that my old NEC drive (IDE) does not do this.
- The Plextor PX-810SA is not DVD region-free, unlike many drives available today. This is very inconvenient for Europeans or Asians who want to watch DVDs purchased in the US. You can only change the region 5 times, or perhaps use DeCSS to rip the DVDs to your hard drive (which, of course, is a criminal act that I would never, ever, commit myself).
- There is no way to change the reading speed. Want to hear something funny? The supplied PlexTools software enables me to change the speed of my NEC drive, but NOT the Plextor drive it came bundled with.
What's good about the PX-810SA? Not too much:
- It it much quieter than my NEC. In fact, the NEC sounds like a vacuum cleaner next to the Plextor. The noise from the NEC is unbearable when watching DVD movies.
- 2-year warranty, not that I plan to exercise it.
- The durability may be higher, but that's just me trying to rationalize a bad purchasing decision.
In short, I would call the performance "disappointing" if I had paid $40 for the drive. Given that it cost me $100 (these are Polish prices, mind you), it is a complete disaster. The only reason I'm not returning this is that I don't want to bother with the RMA procedure and I need a working burner (my NEC has gotten unreliable after 1.5 years). If I could make the choice again, I would probably look at a Samsung.
P.S. Since the PX-810SA is based on Pioneer DVR-212, some of the problems I have described may apply to the Pioneer as well. Caveat emptor.