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This story was printed from CdrInfo.com,
located at http://www.cdrinfo.com.
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Appeared on: Friday, July 01, 2005
Plextor PX-740A


1. Introduction

Plextor, well known in the optical storage market, has released its latest model burner, the 740A, featuring 8X +R DL writing speed along with -R DL media support. Apart from this, Plextor also chose to change its chipset from Sanyo's to Philips', a chipset we saw used only in BenQ and of course, Philips drives. The new Plextor drive has other improvements as well, as we will see later on in this review.

Apart from the 8X+R DL and 4X-R DL support, the drive also offers 8X DVD+RW and 6X DVD-RW media burning speed. It can also write +R and -R media at the max speed of 16X.

- Drive Features

The Plextor 740A also supports the following unique features:

- Specifications

Performance Write DVD+R : 16x: 22.160KB/s (CAV), 12x: 16.620KB/s (PCAV), 8x: 11.080KB/s, 4x: 5.540KB/s (ZCAV), 2.4x: 3.324KB/s
DVD-R: 16x: 22.160KB/s (CAV), 12x: 16.620KB/s (PCAV), 8x: 11.080KB/s, 4x: 5.540KB/s (ZCAV), 2.4x: 3.324KB/s

CD-R : 48x: 7.200KB/s (CAV), 40x: 6.000KB/s (CAV), 32x: 4.800KB/s (PCAV), 24x: 3.600KB/s (PCAV), 16x: 2.400 (ZCAV), 12x: 1.800 (ZCAV)

DVD+R DL : 8x: 11.080KB/s (PCAV), 4x: 5.540KB/s (ZCAV), 2.4x: 3.324KB/s
DVD-R DL : 4x: 5.540KB/s (ZCAV), 2.4x: 3.324KB/s
ReWrite DVD+RW : 8x: 11.080KB/s (ZCAV), 4x: 5.540KB/s (ZCAV), 2.4x: 3.324KB/s
DVD-RW : 6x: 8.310KB/s (ZCAV), 4x: 5.540KB/s (ZCAV), 2.4x: 3.324KB/s
CD-RW : 32x: 4.800KB/s (PCAV), 24x: 3.600KB/s (PCAV), 16x: 2.400KB/s, 10x: 1.500KB/s, 4x: 600KB/s (ZCAV)
Read DVD-ROM : 16x CAV, 12x CAV, 8x CAV, 6x CAV, 4x CAV
CD-ROM : 48x CAV, 40x CAV, 32x CAV, 24x CAV, 16x CAV, 10x CAV
Compatible formats: CD (Read/Write) 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, Mixed CD

CD-R/RW (Write)
Track at Once, Disc at Once, Packet Write (variable and fixed), Session at Once

DVD (Read/Write)
DVD-ROM, DVD-Video, Multiborder, Multisession, DVD+VR, DVD-VR
DVD+R/RW (Write)
DVD+R:Disc at Once, Multisession, Incremental Recording
DVD+R DL: Disc at Once
DVD+RW: Sequential Write, Random Access Write
DVD-R/RW (Write)
DVD-R: Disc at Once, Multiborder recording, Incremental recording
DVD-RW: Disc at Once, Multiborder recording, Incremental recording, Restricted Overwriting, DRT-DM
Access Time <100ms (CD), <150ms (DVD)
Dimensions (LxWxH) 146 x 41.2 x 177.5 mm
Weight 850 gr
Buffer Size 2MB
Interface E-IDE/ ATAPI
Power Requirement DC +5V
DC +12V
Reliability characteristics

MTBF: 125.000 POH (20%)
Tray Loading Eject : 35.000 times

The following information is from Plextools 2.23 (which is included in the retail package) for the 740A drive.

DVD InfoPro provides its own detailed information about the Plextor 740A.

- Retail Package

The Retail package includes:
the PX 740A DVD recorder, an E-IDE (ATAPI) cable, mounting screws, a comprehensive Quick Installation Guide.

Finally there's the software bundle, consisting of full and trial versions, including :
PlexTools Professional (ver.2.23), PlexTools Professional XL, Cyberlink Solutions as it is labeled, which is a collection of software for your DVD authoring and viewing needs, Nero OEM, Pinnacle Studio 1.3.18 Trial version, Sonic solutions recording software and DVD Viewer software.

-The Drive

The front bezel is the typical white with the DVD+RW and the DVD+R and -R DL logos on the bottom left hand side.

On the rear panel you can see the analogue and digital outputs (SPDIF), the IDE connector and the power input.

Once more, as we did in all our reviews, we opened the drive to take a closer look under the "hood". We don't recommend you do this with your drive as it will void the warranty. Clicking on the image below will open a larger, more detailed view of the drives inner parts.

click to enlarge!

Here is a picture of the drive's main chipset from Philips.

- Installation

The drive was installed under WindowsXP and was recognized as "PLEXTOR DVR PX-740A". The 740A came with 1.00 firmware revision and we flashed it to the latest firmware, v1.01 as can be seen in the Nero properties screenshot below.

Changes to the latest 1.01 firmware upgrade.

In this review, we will be comparing the Plextor 740A drive with three other drives of similar characteristics and technology. These are the LiteOn 1693S, the BenQ 1640 and the NEC 3530A, all being latest releases.


2. Transfer Rate Reading Tests

- CD Format

The Plextor 740A drive supports up to 48x reading speed for CD media.

All drives managed to achieve their specified maximum reading speeds with all three tested media. Speed differences reported are negligible. except in the case of 24X USRW media, where all drives except the LiteOn reached 40X maximum reading speed. The LiteOn supporting up to 32X with RW media.

- DVD Format

Once again, but this time using DVD pressed media, the transfer rate graph above shows no significant speed differences between all four drives.

The two layers of a PTP DVD-ROM disc are read sequentially with the drive starting the reading process from the inner part of the disc, which is the beginning of each layer, progressing towards the outer range for each layer. Here too we see that all drives reach their specified maximum speeds of 12X except for the LiteOn which supports 8X with DL media.

The first layer of an OTP dual layer DVD-ROM is read exactly the same way as the first layer of the PTP disc we tested previously. The difference here is the reading strategy of the second layer on the disc. The beginning of the second layer is located in the outer part of the disc, so the drive starts reading from the outer tracks towards the inner part of the disc. Same case as before with all drives reaching their maximum speeds of 12X for the Plextor, BenQ and NEC drives and 8X for the LiteOn.

The three drives from Plextor, BenQ and NEC, all support up to 16X reading speed with DVD+R/-R media, and thus managed to achieve the fastest times. All three drives reported more or less similar speeds.

The fastest ripper proved to be the Plextor drive, followed closely by BenQ. Nice ripping speed results.

Before moving on, notice here that in all the above tests, the BenQ and Plextor drives, report very close results. This is due to the fact that they both use the same chipset.

-Appendix

Nero CD-DVD Speed Graphs


3. CD Error Correction Tests

In the following tests we check the drive's behaviour when reading scratched / defective audio discs. The test discs used were the ABEX series from ALMEDIO.

- ABEX TCD-721R

Errors total Num: 839032
Errors (Loudness) dB(A) Num: 45971 Avg: -73.6 dB(A) Max: -11.0 dB(A)
Error Muting Samples Num: 2673 Avg: 8.1 Samples Max: 3584 Samples
Skips Samples Num: 0 Avg: 0 Samples Max: 0 Samples
Total Test Result 75.0 points (of 100.0 maximum)

Low total error count and low average loudness error level. There were no skipped samples and the Total Test Result score of 75.0 is quite good.

- ABEX TCD-726

Errors total Num: 0
Errors (Loudness) dB(A) Num: 0 Avg: -174.0 dB(A) Max: -174.0 dB(A)
Error Muting Samples Num: 0 Avg: 0 Samples Max: 0 Samples
Skips Samples Num: 0 Avg: 0 Samples Max: 0 Samples
Total Test Result 100.0 points (out of 100.0 maximum)

As with most drives, the 726 media test disc is an easy task for the drive's reading capabilities. A perfect Total Test Result score of 100 points, indicating good CD error correction capabilities for the Plextor 740A.

- CD-Check Audio Test Disc

The CD-Check Test Disc is a very useful tool for evaluating the Sound Reproduction / Error correction capabilities of a CD player. The disc offers a signal combination with disc error patterns to rate the drive's abilities to read music and reproduce it completely. Five tracks on the disc contain a sequence of progressively more difficult tests. These tracks are referred to as Check Level-1 through Check Level-5.

The tracks are reproduced through a software multimedia player (i.e. Windows Media Player). Each level is considered as passed, if the tone is smooth, continuous without interruptions, skipping or looping. The higher the Check Level passed, the more reliable the sound reproduction of the tested drive.

Error Level 1 2 3 4 5
Plextor 740A 5/5 5/5 5/5 5/5 4/5

Few drives have ever managed to reach the fifth level of the CD-Check Audio test disc. The 740A is one of them, and although it did not manage to achieve 5/5 for the fifth level, its performance in this test can be described as excellent.

- Summary

Overall, very good CD error correction capabilities from the Plextor 740A drive, with the 726 test media being read flawlessly and managing to reach up to the 5th level with the CD-Check Audio test disc, an accomplishment we've seen from very few drives.


4. DVD Error Correction Tests

In the following tests we examined the DVD reading capabilities of the Plextor 740A drive with scratched / defective DVD media. For the tests, we used CDVD Benchmark and Nero CDSpeed. The reference test media comes from ALMEDIO. These tests were made prior to the release of the 1.01 firmware upgrade and were not re-tested, as the latest firmware does not improve any error correction issues.

- Single Layer media
ABEX TDR-821

This is a single sided, single layer DVD-ROM with a 4.7GB capacity, and its surface has an artificial scratch of dimensions varying from 0.4 to 3.0 mm.

The following transfer rate picture comes from the CDVD Benchmark v1.21 transfer rate test.

As it can be seen from the above graph, the drive completed the test, managing to read over the defective areas without producing any errors. The resultant graph is not the cleanest with a lot of speed fluctuations towards the end of the disc.

ABEX TDR-825

This is also a single sided, single layer DVD-ROM of 4.7GB capacity. The data structure of the disc is exactly the same as that of the TDR-821, with the difference that there are no scratches on it but instead, defective areas of dimensions ranging from 0.5 to 1.1 mm.

There are also fingerprints sized between 65 and 75 micrometers.

Again, same behaviour with this test media. The Plextor drive managed to read through both defective areas and completed the disc without producing any errors. But there's a lot of speed fluctuating going on near the end of the disc.

- Dual Layer media

ABEX TDR-841

This is an 8.5GB dual layer single sided DVD-ROM disc with artificial scratches of dimensions ranging from 0.4 to 3.0mm, on both layers.

Excellent reading with this inserted test media.

ABEX TDR-845

The disc is a single sided, dual layer DVD-ROM disc of a capacity of 8.5GB. The only difference between the TDR-845 and the TDR-841 is that the first includes defective areas and fingerprints.

The dimensions of the defective areas range from 0.5 to 1.1 mm and the fingerprints are sized from 65 to 75 micro meters.

Same performance here. No fluctuations in speed, reading speed nearly maxed out at 13X. Excellent performance.

ABEX TDV-541

The TDV-541 is a single sided, dual layer DVD-VIDEO disc, with a capacity of 8.5GB. The disc is based on the TDV-540 series which is designed for inspection and adjustment of DVD-VIDEO players. The disc checks the layer switch operation from layer 0 to layer 1 and also includes test pictures and test signals for DVD sound files.

The current TDV-541 also checks the error correcting capabilities of the drive and includes scratches from 0.4 to 3.0 mm.

click to enlarge!

The defective media was read all the way to the end by the 740A, with a few drops in speed, which however did not produce any errors from the drive, indicating once more good error correction capabilities.

ABEX TDV-545

The TDV-545 disc is based on the TDV-540 series. It is a single sided, dual layer DVD-VIDEO disc with a capacity of 8.5GB. The TDV-545 includes artificial black dots on the data surface, sized from 0.4 to 1.0 mm. It has also 65 - 75 micro meter fingerprints.

click to enlarge!

Last test with defective media and once again, we have flawless reading, all the way to the end. Excellent performance in this case too.

- Summary

We saw the PX - 740A doing extremely well with the CD error correction tests in the previous page, and it did similarly well here with DVD error correction, managing to read all inserted test media flawlessly, indicating great error correction mechanism.


5. Protected Disc Tests - Reading Tests

- Reading Tests

To create the image of the various protected titles to the hard disk, we used Alcohol 120% software and the appropriate settings, according to the protection type of the inserted discs. Below you can see the duration of each process as well as the transfer rate in each case.
Game Title Protection Scheme Duration Reading speed
PSX "NBA Jam Extreme" Lybcrypt 00:49 min 1844 sectors/sec
Serious Sam The Second Encounter v1.07 SafeDisc v.2.60.052 1: 27:18 min 64 sectors/sec
VRally II SecuROM v.2 2:22 min 2420 sectors/sec

With the PSX and SecuROM protected discs, it managed to rip them fast and without errors. This was not the case with the Safedisc protected game though, since it took about 1:30 hours to rip and not without any errors.

- Writing Tests

The Plextor 740A supports the DAO-RAW writing mode. For checking the drive's EFM correction status, we used 5 different game titles with different SafeDisc 2 versions having the latest software patches installed. After making the images of the various titles onto the hard disk, we burned them (at maximum speed) with Alcohol 120% v1.9.2.1705. Two different discs were created for each title; one with the "Bypass EFM error" enabled and one more with the function disabled.

The table below shows the results of the attempted backups and whether they worked (game installed / played normally), or not.

Drive

Fifa 2004
SD v3.1x

Sims Superstar
SD v2.9x
Sims Unleashed
SD v2.8x
Serious Sam-Second Encounter
SD v2.50.051
Max Payne
SD v2.51.020
EFM OFF
EFM ON
EFM OFF
EFM ON
EFM OFF
EFM ON
EFM OFF
EFM ON
EFM OFF
EFM ON
Toshiba
SD-M1502
No
Yes

Plextor PX 740A

Unfortunately, as already mentioned, the performance of the drive was not that good with SafeDisc protected games and it was only able to rip up to v2.8x.


6. DAE Tests

- Pressed and CDR Audio CD results

The PX 740A supports up to 48x CAV DAE speed, which is the fastest available speed on the market today. The following results were reported when using Exact Audio Copy software.

The Plextor, LiteOn and BenQ drives reported more or less the same Average DAE speeds, both with pressed and CDR audio discs, all supporting up to 48X DAE speed. The NEC drive supports up to 40X DAE speed and so its average DAE speed was a good deal slower than the other drives.

- Advanced DAE Quality

The Plextor drive managed to achieve a perfect 100 quality score, while reporting a 33.15X average speed. This was also the case with the LiteOn and BenQ drives.

The drive can read Leadin data, CD Text and Subchannel Data, but it cannot read Leadout data.

- Ripping 90mins Audio CDs

Unfortunately, the drive could not complete the test with our 90min audio CD.

- Ripping 99mins Audio CDs

click to enlarge!

Same result here, the ripping could not be completed, failing just short from the end.


7. Protected AudioCDs

For the test procedure we used three audio discs with different audio copy protections. The ripping process on all protected Audio discs was carried out with Exact Audio Copy v0.9 beta5.

The tested protected Audio discs were:

The Cactus Data Shield 200, contains artificial errors that are not easily bypassed by the reader, while the Key2Audio contains a second session causing problems for readers when trying to read the Table Of Contents (TOC).

The drive recognized up to the 13th Audio track of the CDS200 disc,

and with the "Retrieve Native TOC" option removed, the drive recognized the 14th track.

The test results are shown in the following table:

Plextor PX 740A Key2Audio CDS200
Ripping process completed, EAC reports no problems, Read&Test CRC comparison successful for all tracks Ripping process completed, EAC reports no problems, Read&Test CRC comparison successful for all tracks

The BenQ DW1640 is capable of reading/ripping both Key2Audio and CDS200 protected discs.

This is a "special" CDS200 build, since it doesn't contain any artificial errors which create problems during the ripping process. Most problems occur when trying to write the ripped wav files, since the produced CD-R disc contains C2 and CU errors! This "problem" is rumored to be connected to specific chipset weaknesses.

We ripped the disc contents with EAC and burned the wav file produced from the Cactus Data Shield 200.0.4 - 3.0 build 16a disc with the latest Nero version as Audio CD+CD-Text. The burned media was checked for C1/C2 errors and for BETA/Jitter errors with PlexTools software using Plextor PX-716A (firmware v1.07).

Plextor PX 740A CDS 200.0.4 - 3.0 build 16a
Reading performed without any errors.

The C1/C2 error graphs show that the 740A managed to produce a 100% error free disc.

We then tried to extract all wav files with the Plextor PX-716A and PlexTools DAE Error Correction 5th Level enabled:

No errors were reported after extracting all files. The drive can backup the disc 100% accurately.


8. CD Recording Tests

- CD-R Format

The drive supports 8X, 16X, 24X, 32X, 40X and 48X (CAV) writing speeds.

According to Nero CDSpeed, the drive clocked in an average speed of 36.15x.

- CD-R Recording Times

We created an 80min data compilation with Nero Burning Rom and recorded it on a 700MB disc. The writing performance varies according to the inserted media. Below is a chart depicting all recording times with various media.

Best performance came with Verbatim media, burned in only 177sec.

- Other features

Overburning writing Up to 90min
CD text reading/writing Yes

- CD-RW Format

The Plextor PX 740A supports 4x, 10x, 16x, 24x and 32x rewriting speeds, with Ultra Speed Rewritable Media (US-RW).

Below you can see the Nero CD-DVD Speed writing simulation test with blank 32x US-RW media from Mitsubishi Chemicals. Average reported speed was 30.30x.

click to enlarge!

- CD-RW Mount Rainier

The drive does not support the Mount Rainier feature.


9. C1 / C2 Error Measurements

We measured the C1 / C2 error rate on the recorded discs we burned at the various supported writing speeds. The software we used is the latest PleXTools Professional and in particular the built-in Q-Check utility. The reader was the Plextor PX-716A (1.07 firmware).

BenQ 80min 52X @ 48X

Philips 80min 52X @ 40X

Ridisc 80min 52X @ 48X

Traxdata 80min 52X @ 40X

Verbatim 80min 52X @ 48X

- Summary

We encountered C2 errors only with the Traxdata media. All other burns, reported only C1, low values, indicating very good quality burns.


10. Writing Quality Tests - Clover System Tests

The Clover Systems CDX Compact Disc Analyzer is a high-speed tool to quantitatively measure the quality of a CD. It will analyze CD-DA, CD-ROM, CD-ROM XA, CD-I, CD-R, Photo-CD, Enhanced CD and CD-RW discs at 4X, 8X, 24X, 32X or 40X speed. It effectively measures disc quality by examining the quantity and severity of CIRC errors generated during playback. It also provides the capability to measure signal parameters related to pit geometry, such as asymmetry and reflectivity. Together, all these bits of information provide a thorough analysis of disc quality. The Clover Systems Analyzers can also perform various format-checking tests on data discs, and do bit-for-bit data comparison on all types of CDs. All tests are carried out at the maximum speed of 40X.

CIRC error correction uses two principles to detect and correct errors. The first is redundancy (extra information is added, which gives an extra chance to read the disc), and the second is interleaving (data is distributed over a relatively large physical area). The CIRC error correction used in CD players uses two stages of error correction, the well known C1 and C2, with de-interleaving of the data between the stages.

The error type E11 means one bad symbol was corrected in the C1 stage. E21means two bad symbols were corrected in the C1 stage. E31 means that there were three or more bad symbols at the C1 stage. This block is uncorrectable at the C1 stage, and is passed to the C2 stage. Respectively, E12 means one bad symbol was corrected in the C2 stage and E22 means two bad symbols were corrected in the C2 stage. E32 means that there were three or more bad symbols in one block at the C2 stage, and therefore this error is not correctable.

BLER (Block Error Rate) is defined as the number of data blocks per second that contain detectable errors, at the input of the C1 decoder. Since this is the most general measurement of the quality of a disc, you will find BLER graphs for all media tested below. If you click on the images you can see a more detailed table, indicating error levels. The Red Book specification (IEC 908) calls for a maximum BLER of 220 per second averaged over ten seconds. Discs with higher BLER are likely to produce uncorrectable errors. Al low BLER shows that the system as a whole is performing well, and the pit geometry is good. However, BLER only tells us how many errors were generated per second, and it does not tell us anything about the severity of those errors.

BenQ 80min 52X @ 48X

click for more details!

Philips 80min 52X @ 48X

click for more details!

RiDisc 80min 52X @ 40X

click for more details!

Traxdata 80min 52X @ 48X

click for more details!

Verbatim 80min 52X @ 48X

click for more details!

- Summary

The final verdict comes from Clover Systems and CDX test, where we put our burned CD media under the microscope to evaluate their quality. It is considered more reliable than the Plextools scan and can give more accurate results. Having said that, the only media to be awarded the "pass" mark are Verbatim and BenQ, while the other three media received a "fail".


11. DVD Recording Tests

- Writing Performance

The Plextor PX 740A supports up to 16x burning speed with both +R and -R DVD media formats. Nero Burning Rom's reported speeds are shown below.

Below, you can see the writing speed graph, as reported by Nero CD-DVD Speed. Notice that the drive uses WOPC, much like BenQ drives, since from this release onwards drives from both manufacturers share the same chipset from Philips. Unlike BenQ drives, the WOPC setting cannot be disabled on the Plextor drive however.

click for more details!

click for more details!

The PX 740A supports 8x DVD+RW writing speed, and 6x DVD-RW writing speed. Below, you can see the writing speed graph as reported by Nero CD-DVD Speed.

click for more details!

The average reported speed was 7.57x. The speed starts off at 6X and very soon steps up to 8X where it stays until the end. Notice here that the WOPC setting is brought into play again, due to the +RW media format.

click for more details!

Average burning speed was 5.89x. The drive started immediately at 6X speed and stayed there until the end.

- Burning Tests

Optodisc 16X media was burned at 8X burning speed, while Datawrite, TDK and TY, all 8X media, were burned at 12X (overspeed) in this case. Best case was with TDK media, if we are considering fast burning and not quality.

With DVD+R media, the drive did not overspeed at all and all media were burned at their specified speeds according to Nero, although we can see that with BeALL, Optodisc and Philips media, the "true" speed was 4X. Fastest burn came again with TDK media at 16X.

- Comparison with other drives

The reviewed drive was fastest with DVD+R media, while when using +RW and -RW media, all drives reported more or less the same speeds, with the exception of the NEC drive which was fastest with +RW and slowest with -RW media.

- DVD Overburning Tests

Unfortunately, the overburning feature is not supported.


12. CDSpeed/PlexTools Scans - Page 1

In order to test the writing quality and readability of the burned media we used two readers with two software applications:

In general, a "perfect" disc should have a smooth reading curve, very low PIE/POE and zero (0) POF error rates. Most times however, even though a disc has very low PIE/POE error rates, the reading curve may not be smooth containing dropoffs. Due to the fact that we oversped the reading capabilities of the LiteON SOHD-167T, such drops are expected, especially near the outer area of the disc.

The measurements below should be taken not as the absolute criteria of the burning quality, but as an indication level.

16X DVD-R Writing Speed

- Summary

Verbatim media could not complete the scan producing an "Address out of range" error very early on. TDK media produced a severe drop in speed at the end of the CD Speed Scan but the Plextools scan was quite good. CMC Magnetics disc produced a good CD Speed Scan graph but the Plextools scan shows a large POE count and the levels are high as well. Maxell was probably the best media with good CD Speed and Plextools scans where the POE count was very low.


13. CDSpeed/PlexTools Scans - Page 2

In order to test the writing quality and readability of the burned media we used two readers with two software applications:

In general, a "perfect" disc should have a smooth reading curve, very low PIE/POE and zero (0) POF error rates. Most times however, even though a disc has very low PIE/POE error rates, the reading curve may not be smooth containing dropoffs. Due to the fact that we oversped the reading capabilities of the LiteON SOHD-167T, such drops are expected, especially near the outer area of the disc.

The measurements below should be taken not as the absolute criteria of the burning quality, but as an indication level.

8X DVD-R Writing Speed

- Summary

Nice quality burns with 8X DVD-R media, with best quality cases those of TDK and TY media both 8X burned at 12X overspeed and Ridisc rated and burned at 8X. Optodisc 16X media, even though it was burned at 8X, did not report good quality.


14. CDSpeed/PlexTools Scans - Page 3

In order to test the writing quality and readability of the burned media we used two readers with two software applications:

In general, a "perfect" disc should have a smooth reading curve, very low PIE/POE and zero (0) POF error rates. Most times however, even though a disc has very low PIE/POE error rates, the reading curve may not be smooth containing dropoffs. Due to the fact that we oversped the reading capabilities of the LiteON SOHD-167T, such drops are expected, especially near the outer area of the disc.

The measurements below should be taken not as the absolute criteria of the burning quality, but as an indication level.

16X DVD+R Writing Speed

- Summary

With DVD+R media burned at 16X speed, the outcome is very satisfactory, with Ricoh media reporting the "worst" quality here, which is just an increase in PI levels near the completion of the scan. This shows up as a drop in speed in CD speed. Best quality came with the TY media.


15. CDSpeed/PlexTools Scans - Page 4

In order to test the writing quality and readability of the burned media we used two readers with two software applications:

In general, a "perfect" disc should have a smooth reading curve, very low PIE/POE and zero (0) POF error rates. Most times however, even though a disc has very low PIE/POE error rates, the reading curve may not be smooth containing dropoffs. Due to the fact that we oversped the reading capabilities of the LiteON SOHD-167T, such drops are expected, especially near the outer area of the disc.

The measurements below should be taken not as the absolute criteria of the burning quality, but as an indication level.

8X DVD+R Writing Speed

- Summary

This page would have been an "excellent quality burned media" page, if it weren't for the Maxell media's "CIRC UNRECOVERED ERROR" message. Best quality came with TY media.


16. CDSpeed/PlexTools Scans - Page 5

In order to test the writing quality and readability of the burned media we used two readers with two software applications:

In general, a "perfect" disc should have a smooth reading curve, very low PIE/POE and zero (0) POF error rates. Most times however, even though a disc has very low PIE/POE error rates, the reading curve may not be smooth containing dropoffs. Due to the fact that we oversped the reading capabilities of the LiteON SOHD-167T, such drops are expected, especially near the outer area of the disc.

The measurements below should be taken not as the absolute criteria of the burning quality, but as an indication level.

DVD+RW and DVD-RW Media

- Summary

The burning quality with DVD+RW media at 8X is very good, something we cannot say for the -RW media burned at 6X. Traxdata media could not be scanned producing an error message while Verbatim's CD Speed scan was far from smooth. The Kprobe quality scans have been included due to the inability of the PX 716 to scan the last two -RW discs.


17. Writing Quality Tests - Almedio AEC-1000

The AEC-1000 consists of a DVD Drive and the "ALChecker" error measurement application which can check the written data quality. The application is capable of 1X CLV measurement as well as 4X CLV on DVD-Video/ROM and finalized DVD+R/-R media.

There are three measurement modes:

The checking status is shown graphically in real time while you can save the error graph at the end of the test. The reported errors are the PI and the UncPO. In the case of PI, it counts the number of rows corrected by the PI error correction in each group of eight consecutive ECC blocks. In the case of UncPO, it counts the number of ECC blocks in which more than one byte is uncorrectable in eight consecutive ECC blocks. For our quality scans, we set it for 1X CLV and Fine Mode which is the slowest and with the safest results. Also, we chose to measure all the media burned at the maximum available writing speed, namely 16X.

- Summary

What Clover Systems CDX is to burned CD media, the Almedio ALChecker is to burned DVD media. We used the latter, to take a deeper, more detailed look at our burned media with the Plextor 740A. As we can see from the above graphs, the overall quality is very good, apart from the CMC MAG 16X DVD-R media, which produced a bad disc quality report, as we can see in the last graph.


18. DVDR DL - Page 1

- Writing Tests

We burned some DVD+R DL and DVD-R DL discs with DVD-Video content. The source disc was "Gladiator Movie - Special Edition" disc1 with a total size of 6.86GB. First we transferred the movie to the hard disc with DVD Decrypter as ISO format (single file). We used Double Layer media provided by RiDisc and Verbatim (MKM).

We then used the latest CopyToDVD, and specifically the "Movie & Pictures" option, and then "Write DVD Video". The software prompts us to select the Video_TS/ISO image folder.

The Plextor PX 740A can burn up to 8x on +R DL media and 4x on -R DL media. Now lets see how the drive performs with the following media:

For comparison reasons, we post DL burning results for other writers, with the same disc content and same recording software. In a recent review, the BenQ had set a new record in DL writing time, as we can see in the table below. This time, the Plextor drive sets a new record time, beating the previous by 22 seconds.

Drive Time (mins)
Plextor PX 740A 13:52
BenQ DW1640 14:14
Pioneer DVR-109 16:29
NEC ND-3530A 17:48
NEC ND-3520A

22:35

TDK 1616N 22:51
NEC ND-3500A 22:52
ASUS DRW-1604P (4X) 23:10
Pioneer DVR-108A (4X) 23:10
NEC 2510A 37:17
ASUS DRW-1604P (2.4X) 38:08
LG GSA-4120B 38:12
Pioneer DVR-108A (2.4X)

38:23

SONY DRU-700A

38:39

BenQ DW830A 39:14
BenQ DW1600A DL 40:16

19. DVDR DL - Page 2

- Writing Quality

In order to test the Plextor 740A DVD+R DL and DVD-R DL writing quality, we used the LiteOn SOHD-167T and the Plextor PX-716A drives.

The Plextor 740A has a problem when using DVD-R DL, which limits the unused space as one can see from the above graph which was made with the PX716 and Plextools. This issue was supposed to have been looked into and fixed with the latest firmware release for the 740A, v1.01. As we can clearly see, this is not the case. We did not notice any quality problems though, meaning this is just a bug which will not affect writing quality.

As expected, the 8X burned Maxell +R DL disc did not report the best quality, as the 8X DL burning speed is quite fast, although we can say that we had an average to good burn. For the rest of the +R DL media, as one can see, the burning quality is good, at 2.4X effective speed.

With -R DL media, the Plextor drive managed to produce a very good quality burn at 4X effective speed, with a smooth graph and very low PI values.


20. Booktype Setting

The Plextor 740A supports Booktype setting, through some of the well know utilities such as Nero CD-DVD Speed and DVDInfo Pro. We used a blank Datawrite (Prodisc W02) 4X DVD+RW disc and tried to modify its booktype, with the aid of DVDInfo Pro. Since the Plextor drive uses the same chipset as the BenQ 1640, we used the BenQ booktype management utility to see if that works.

1.We choose the DVD-ROM setting for +RW media at the drop down menu...

The only known traditional way to change the booktype prior to burning, in order to maximize compatibility with Plextor drives, is Nero CD-DVD Speed...

2.The confirmation message...

 

3.We successfully changed the DVD+RW booktype to DVD-ROM.

Notice here the DVD Info Pro BitSetting utility title : "BenQ Drives Only". As mentioned before, Plextor uses the same Chipset as the BenQ 1640.

1.We insert the DVD+RW media in the drive...
2.We change its book type...

Here we used the Nero CD DVD Speed utility and through the Disc Info tab, we confirmed the book type change.

3. We check to see if the change has been made...

Now lets see if the BenQ BookType management utility can be used likewise.

Same procedure here, as we insert the +RW media, modify its booktype to DVD-ROM.

And as we check the media to see if the changes have been saved, we get the DVD-ROM Book Type status, as can be seen at the bottom of the screenshot.


21. Conclusion

When the Plextor 740A was released, we expected another traditional Plextor drive and we would have been satisfied. But it wasn't so. The Plextor 740A is not just another plextor drive. It's a whole lot more. Built on the same chipset from Philips as the BenQ drives, the Plextor PX-740A has become faster with added quality which doesn't just give us a good ripping speed, but also good ripping quality. The fastest DL recorder out there yet, with only 13:52 seconds for a full DL burn.

Speed is not an issue for the Plextor 740A as from the comparison tables throughout this review we saw that it can keep up with any of the latest release drives and not only keep up, but beat them as well, although the speed differences were negligible. It is a fast reader with CD and DVD media, both SL and DL. Its error correction capabilities have improved and actually gave some excellent results during the DVD error correction tests.

Audio Protected discs were no match for the drive's ripping mechanism, since it managed to rip and produce accurate backups of all inserted protected audio discs. Unfortunately, the drive did not differ from others as far as protected games are concerned, and the SafeDisc protected game in specific. The Plextor 740A did an excellent job with PSX and SecuROM media, but only managed to backup accurately up to v2.8 with safedisc protection.

Even though some of the graphs in the burning quality tests were not excellent, the overall burning quality of the drive will leave the end user satisfied. At 16X burning speed, the drive managed to produce some very nice burns, as well as at 8X burning speed, for both DVD+R/-R media formats. With +RW/-RW media, the drive gave some good results though not what we expected from the drive, having seen what it can do with the +R and -R media formats. Coming to DL media, the 740A will satisfy with its 8X burning speed for +R DL and 4X -R DL media support. As mentioned before, what we have here is probably the fastest DL burner on the DVD-Recording market.

Something we would like to add before closing is that while the package comes with Plextools included in its sofware suite, the drive itself cannot perform the Plextools Quality Scans. Moreover, while the drive supports the booktype change, this can also be done with the BenQ Booktype Management utility as well as the more traditional CD-DVD Speed and DVD Info Pro programs. Interestingly, DVD Info Pro recognises the drive as a BenQ drive when doing the booktype setting.

The price of the PLEXTOR PX 740A ranges from US$96 to US$116.

- The Good

- The Bad

- Like To be fixed

Retail Package
Reading
Error Correction
Protected Discs
Writing
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