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Appeared on: Wednesday, March 02, 2005
Plextools XL

1. Introduction

Plextools XL - Page 1

- Introduction

Click to Visit Plextools Website!Plextor recently announced a new, more powerful version of the well known Plextools, with the "XL" extension. We had the chance to review Plextools XL and in this short preview, we will take a look at the main, new features along with our thoughts, for the current build.

- What are Plextools XL?

The question can be answered by simply visiting Plextools website "...Based on existing solid code, PlexTools Professional XL offers more features and extra options. The new layout with resizable windows and improved graphs, enhanced audio functions and project options as well as the unique update check system are designed and tuned for the demanding user..."

- What are the main differences between Plextools and Plextools XL?

Looking again at Plextor's website, the user can easily spot the major changes:

- Can I upgrade from my current Plextools to the XL version?

Unfortunately, Plextor's current policy doesn't offer any type of discount for existing Plextools users, meaning if you wish to buy the Plextools Professional XL, you will have to pay around €40! Plextools Professional XL is exclusively available for purchase online and comes with a 2 year, free-of-charge update license.

2. Installation - Page 1

Plextools XL - Page 2

- Installation

For evaluation purposes, Plextor Europe gave us the first available version of Plextools Professional XL, revision 3.00. While we don't currently know where you can download a copy, a demo version will be made available soon for end users, with a 14 day trial period.

The new XL series installation package is a little larger (12Mb) than the latest available Plextools Pro (9Mb). After running the setup, the welcome screen appears:

After the installation process has finished, you have to reboot the PC before being able to use Plextools Professional XL. On our test PC, we already had Plextools Professional installed, so we were curious to see if both it and the XL versions could co-exist. Fortunately, both versions can co-exist!

3. Installation - Page 2

Plextools XL - Page 3

We ran Plextools XL and the first screen appeared, asking whether we wanted to evaluate the product (14 days demo), or purchase/activate the product:

We used the second option (activate) and the wizard continued:

Our installed Firewall prompted us for confirmation whether to permit or deny the requested Internet connection, in order to activate the product:

After permitting all the Internet connections, an IE windows opened, where we could either buy or activate our product. After typing the POP code, the software was activated almost instantly. What we don't know is if a user can use this licence on more than one occasion...

4. The software - Page 1

Plextools XL - Page 4

Plextools Professional XL icon immediately appeared in the icons in the task bar:

and at last, we opened for the first time, the new Plextools Professional XL v3.00 (click on the image for a larger view).

Click to enlarge!

As we can see, the new Plextools includes a re-designed interface, separated into three independent windows:

The device and functions windows can be closed, leaving only the main window available. The main window, from where all devices and functions can be selected, shows information and test results. All 3 windows can be repositioned and resized independently as can be seen below:

Click To Enlarge!

At the top of the main window, the user can access directly, all the major functions and of course, devices:

Expanding the Functions window, we can see all the available functions/tests:

The about screen shows the build revision:

5. The software - Page 2

Plextools XL - Page 5

Shortly afterwards, Plextools XL again tried to connect to the Internet,

and we were prompted for a newer firmware revision that had been released for our test drive:

The update process was automatic and fortunately, we weren't prompted to reboot:

Under the Options menu, the user can also manually check for firmware and/or software updates:

The automatic software/firmware update can be disabled through the Preferences->General tab:

6. The software - Page 3

Plextools XL - Page 6

The tests (read/write transfer, C1C2/PIPO) have been re-designed, however they cannot be configured by the user nor are there any pre-defined templates:

Lets now see how the new PI/PO tests show up with the new Plextools Professional XL series:

We didn't notice any major changes compared with the normal Plextools. On the other hand, we would like to have advanced tests included, compared with the plain Plextools version especially when you consider that you have to pay €40 for the new version. For example, PX Scan, a freeware program, can perform in sequence, PI/PO, Beta/Jitter, TA Tests and display them on one page, give statistical results, even display results with a logarithm scale.

I imagine its much easier for someone to see the disc's condition with the following picture, rather than looking at the above 3 screenshots :-)

Certainly, we would like more advanced features from Plextools Professional XL, only time will tell if such welcome changes will be added...

7. The software - Page 4

Plextools XL - Page 7

Another change that is welcome, is the addition of DVD-Video project in the Disc Maker tab:

A warning message comes up when you select the DVD-Video project:

From the main window, the user can add all the needed VOB files to create the project.

8. The software - Page 5

Plextools XL - Page 8

Lastly, another welcome addition, is the CUE Sheet support that many users had requested in the past from Plextor.

Under preferences, the user can change various settings and the CueSheet filename:

The extraction process completed, nothing new here.

Lastly, we noticed that Plextor has removed PNG support from the supported picture formats, while adding EMF:

The save as HTML option didn't add anything special either:

9. Conclusion

Plextools XL - Page 9

- Conclusion

Click to Visit Plextools Website!Plextor, as a leading optical storage manufacturer developed and evolved Plextools Professional, a unique software for Plextor drives, into Plextools Professional XL. Initially, after reading the news, we expected to see a totally new Plextools with many interesting features in view of the fact that Plextor charges €40 to upgrade to the XL version.

The redesigned GUI is welcomed, the support for DVD-Video was something that was missing from the standard Plextools application and the support for CueSheet will please advanced DAE rippers. However, none of these will make any difference for ordinary users since Plextools XL doesn't include the less basic functions compared with standard Plextools. Plextor promises more features and updates as time passes...by that time, users can test the new XL version for 14 days trial period and decide whether it is worth buying or not.

The Good

The Bad

Like to be fixed

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