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Sunday, March 16, 2003
The new 52x Plextor drive offers to consumers transparent compression and encryption

A new 52x CD recorder by Plextor with the codename "Premium", presented at this year's CeBIT exhibition, offers to users some very interesting and compelling reasons to upgrade even their 48x recently purchased recorder!

This is the first drive able to record disks that are both compressed and encrypted. According to Plextor, compression of up to 1.4x times the typical CD-ROM capacity can be achieved by squeezing the pits on a burned disk to their limits. This means that one can record up to 1Gbytes of data, or the equivalent of about 110 minutes of audio, by using the now widely in use standard 80min/700MB media.

This is made possible by driving existing technology to its limits. Squeezing more pits at the same spiral length of a disk means that the reading drive will have to slow down the disk rotation accordingly. In the extreme case of reading the outer part of a disk this means that the linear velocity of the disk above the pick-up will be below 1.2 meters/feet, the lowest allowable according to red-book standards for 1x playback. However, most readers, and even the not-so-old consumer players, are able to playback a disk at least at 2x speed (anti-shock). Consequently, this is not a problem when playing back a compressed disk at a higher than 1x speed.

Another important feature of the new 52x recorder is its ability to offer transparent encryption to the recorded data. This is both for the table of contents (TOC) and the data bits itself. The encryption is based on a password provided by a user during recording and is independent of any system-level encryption offered by the operating system itself. Both encryption and compression is offered through a new version of PlexTools, the PlexTools Professional, developed by the European team of Plextor located at Belgium and it will be available to all the worldwide distribution channels in the coming months bundled with all 52 recorders.

It is questionable whether some of the features of the new recorder will be available to earlier Plextor models through a firmware upgrades and a software upgrade of PlexTools. It is more questionable, though, if other recording software like Nero from Ahead will support this new drive's offering in future upgrades.

We intend to add an updated and somewhat expanded version of this story in the next few coming days in our daily updated article about this year's CeBIT show.

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