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Appeared on: Thursday, September 29, 2005
Plextor PX-716SA


1. Introduction

Several months ago, Plextor released the PX-716A drive, an internal 16X DVD recorder with many features and capabilities. Today we will be reviewing its twin, the PX-716SA, same burner but with different connection interface, Serial ATA instead of IDE. The PX-716SA supports up to 16X burning speed with DVD±R media and 8X/6X with DVD±RW media. The PX-716SA also supports up to 6X burning speed with both DL formats (DVD±R DL media).

Note here that the drive will not be posted with the full CDRinfo test suite, since several tests reported same results as the 716A drive. We only present the writing quality for the PX-716SA with the most recent firmware revision, that of 1.08. For further investigation of the drives capabilities, you can take a look at the full review of the PX-716A which can be found here.

- Features

The Plextor 716SA supports the same set of features as the 716A IDE burner...

supported for recording at high-quality and optimum speed.

is a self-learning writing technology that determines the standard deviation of any blank disc and automatically optimizes the write strategy for unknown media, enabling high-quality disc recording. AUTOSTRATEGY technology is the culmination of five years of research and development by Taiyo Yuden, a leading Japanese supplier of quality CD and DVD recording media.

controls the laser in three dimensions, to ensure high quality writing and reading if the disc surface has imperfections. Below is a graph, which according to Plextor shows the Jitter improvement with the IntelligentTilt technology:

The VariRec feature can be applied not only to Audio CD-R discs but also DVD±RW media. The user can select some settings during recording preparation in order to obtain a more personalized sound tone. The feature is fully controlled from within the PlexTools software, available in the Plextor retail package, and works for CD at 4X and 8X and for DVD at 2X and 4X writing speeds. Nero and other programs support this feature as well.

The PoweRec technology ensures the quality of CD and DVD recordings. Low quality media is often the source of disc errors during high speed recording. PoweRec checks the quality of the inserted CD/DVD media and automatically selects the optimum (maximum) writing speed, giving the highest quality results.

- GigaREC allows high capacity storage of up to 900 MB on a 700 MB CD-R disc. With this advanced feature, you can increase the maximum writing capacity by up to 30%.

- SecureREC offers password protection for your disc and other valuable data

- Q-Check checks and reports written disc quality - C1/C2 for CD, PI/POF and TA for DVD (Time Analyzer checks T3-T11 and T14), track and focus errors, beta and jitter.

- Silent Mode which enables users to vary tray load/unload speed, spin up/down speed and write/read speeds

- Specifications

Data Transfer Rate
Burst 66MB/s
Write DVD+R DVD-R CD-R
16x: 22.160KB/s (CAV) 12x: 16.620KB/s (PCAV) 6-8x: 8.310-11.080KB/s (PCAV) 6x: 8.310KB/s (CLV) 4x: 5.540KB/s (CLV) 2.4x: 3.324KB/s (CLV) DVD+R DL 6x: 8.310KB/s (CLV) 4x: 5.540KB/s (CLV) 2.4x: 3.324KB/s (CLV) 16x: 22.160KB/s (CAV) 12x: 16.620KB/s (PCAV) 6-8x: 8.310-11.080KB/s (PCAV) 6x: 8.310KB/s (CLV) 4x: 5.540KB/s (CLV) 2x: 2.770KB/s (CLV) DVD-R DL 6x: 8.310KB/s (CLV) 4x: 5.540KB/s (CLV) 2x: 2.770KB/s 48x: 7.200KB/s (CAV) 32x: 4.800KB/s (PCAV) 16x: 2.400KB/s (CLV) 8x: 1.200KB/s (CLV) 4x: 600KB/s (CLV)
ReWrite DVD+RW DVD-RW CD-RW
6-8x: 8.310-11.080KB/s (PCAV) 6x: 8.310KB/s (CLV) 4x: 5.540KB/s (CLV) 2.4x: 3.324KB/s (CLV) 4x: 5.540KB/s (CLV) 2x: 2.770KB/s (CLV) 1x: 1.385KB/s (CLV) 24x: 3.600KB/s (PCAV) 10x: 1.500KB/s (CLV) 4x: 600KB/s (CLV)
Read DVD-ROM CD-ROM
6-16x CAV 5-12x CAV 3-8x CAV 2-5x CAV 2x CLV 20-48x CAV 17-40x CAV 14-32x CAV 10-24x CAV 8x CLV 4x CLV
Access Time <150ms (DVD) <100ms (CD)
Data Buffer 8MB
Error Rate Mode1: less than 10-12bits Mode2: less than 10-9bits
Eject Auto Eject / Manual Emergency
Disc Loading Slot Loading mechanism (caddy)
Power Supply DC +5V and DC +12V
Audio Connector Rear: Analog output
Rear: Digital SPDIF output
Dimensions 146 x 41,3 x 178,7 mm
Weight 1 kg
MTBF 60.000 POH
Disc Loading Eject 20.000 times
Warranty 2 year Fast Warranty Service (in EU, Norway and Switzerland: Collect & Return); 1 year in other countries

Specifications as reported with the aid of various tools...

As we can see with Nero Info Tool and DVDInfo Pro, the drive uses the RPC II Region control which allows up to five region changes. We changed the region on our drive to "Region 2" for the purposes of this review.

The drive uses the standard front loading tray mechanism. The sample we received from Plextor was black. The eject button is located on the left side while in the middle, there is an emergency eject hole A green led is also present and lights up depending on drive activity.

The only difference with the PX-716A is the rear panel, where the SATA interface and power connectors are located.

The drive is Sanyo based, using the following chipset.

- Installation

The drive was installed under WindowsXP and was recognized as "PLEXTOR DVDR PX-716A". It arrived with the most recent firmware revision, v1.08. Below is a screenshot from Nero Burning Rom's specs for the drive.


2. DVD Recording Tests

We burned 4315MB of a DVD-Video compilation on various DVD±R, DVD±RW media. We used the maximum allowed writing speed for each disc. For our tests we used, as always, the latest Nero Burning Rom 6 version, the 6.6.0.16.

- DVD-R/-RW media

Generally the drive reported a very stable performance at both 8X or 16X speeds. The fastest time when burning at 16X with DVD-R media according to our tests, was 6:15min. We didn't noticed any 8X certified media to allow 12X, but the 16X compatibility list includes many media. In case of MMore medium it seems that the drive had to slow down in order to prevent any possible burning failure. This justify the increased writing time of 10:47min.

With DVD-RW media, the drive allowed writing at only 4X with 6X certified media from Mitsubishi Chemicals, while in case of Traxdata, although the reported writing speed was 6X, the time was actually closer to 4X.

- DVD+R/+RW media

Large 16X compatibility list once again, while with two of our tested 8X media, burning speed was 12X. Best 16X time was 6:08min. Although Nero reported 8X with CMC Magnetics, the time seems to be closer to 4X. Once again, the drive slows its writing speed in order to prevent any possible burning failures.

The writing times with DVD+RW media were rather slow, especially with Ricoh media.


3. Firmware Change Log

PX-716A/SA/UF V1.08

PX-716A/SA/UF V1.07

PX-716A/SA/UF V1.06

PX-716A/SA/UF V1.05

PX-716A/SA/UF V1.04 (updated)

PX-716A/SA/UF V1.04

PX-716A/SA/UF V1.03


4. CDSpeed/PlexTools Scans - Page 1

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

- The LiteON SOHD-167T with patched firmware being able to read DVD5 up to 16X CAV and DVD9 up to 10X CAV. For the transfer rate tests we used the latest Nero CDSpeed version.

- The Plextor PX-716A with the latest available firmware. For scanning the disc, we used the latest PlexTools version at 2X CLV reading speed, BURST mode, with middle accuracy.

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

- MKM 16X DVD-R @ 16X

- CMC Magnetics 16X DVD-R @ 16X

- BenQ 16X DVD-R @ 16X

- Optodisc 16X DVD-R @ 16X

- Traxdata 16X DVD-R @ 16X

- Taiyo Yuden 8X DVD-R @ 16X

- Summary

Writing quality with DVD-R 16X media is not good, with a high PIE error count and levels keeping just within within acceptable levels. Quality is not as good as we expected, considering we are dealing with a very mature drive on the market with many updates in firmware. The CDSpeed graphs are also not good reporting average performance.


5. CDSpeed/PlexTools Scans - Page 2

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

- The LiteON SOHD-167T with patched firmware being able to read DVD5 up to 16X CAV and DVD9 up to 10X CAV. For the transfer rate tests we used the latest Nero CDSpeed version.

- The Plextor PX-716A with the latest available firmware. For scanning the disc, we used the latest PlexTools version at 2X CLV reading speed, BURST mode, with middle accuracy.

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

- Maxell 8X DVD-R @ 8X

- MMore 8X DVD-R @ 8X

- Bulkpaq 8X DVD-R @ 8X

- Ridisc(Blue) 8X DVD-R @ 8X

- Ridisc(Red) 8X DVD-R @ 8X

- Traxdata 8X DVD-R @ 8X

- Optodisc 8X DVD-R @ 4X

- BenQ 8X DVD-R @ 8X

- Datawrite 8X DVD-R @ 8X

- TDK 8X DVD-R @ 8X

- CMC Magnetics 8X DVD-R @ 4X

- Summary

At 8X writing with DVD-R media, the drive produced high quality burnings with relatively low PIE error levels and quite smooth CDSpeed graphs. Much better than at 16X writing speed, at 8X the drive will burn almost any media you use without any quality loss.


6. CDSpeed/PlexTools Scans - Page 3

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

- The LiteON SOHD-167T with patched firmware being able to read DVD5 up to 16X CAV and DVD9 up to 10X CAV. For the transfer rate tests we used the latest Nero CDSpeed version.

- The Plextor PX-716A with the latest available firmware. For scanning the disc, we used the latest PlexTools version at 2X CLV reading speed, BURST mode, with middle accuracy.

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

- MKM 16X DVD+R @ 16X

- MMore 16X DVD+R @ 16X

- BenQ 16X DVD+R @ 16X

- CMC Magnetics 16X DVD+R @ 16X

- Optodisc 16X DVD+R @ 16X

- Ridisc 16X DVD+R @ 16X

- Ricoh 16X DVD+R @ 16X

- Traxdata 16X DVD+R @ 16X

- Taiyo Yuden 8X DVD+R @ 16X

- Summary

With DVD+R media, the writing quality at 16X recording is very good. It seems to be much safer to use DVD+R media at 16X instead of DVD-R. In almost all cases, the PIE error levels are extremely low.


7. CDSpeed/PlexTools Scans - Page 4

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

- The LiteON SOHD-167T with patched firmware being able to read DVD5 up to 16X CAV and DVD9 up to 10X CAV. For the transfer rate tests we used the latest Nero CDSpeed version.

- The Plextor PX-716A with the latest available firmware. For scanning the disc, we used the latest PlexTools version at 2X CLV reading speed, BURST mode, with middle accuracy.

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.

12X DVD+R Writing Speed

- Ricoh 8X DVD+R @ 12X

- Maxell 8X DVD+R @ 12X

- Summary

There is not a lot of media that the Plextor PX-716SA will burn at 12X. The sample is limited and the only conclusion we can make from the graphs above is that there was good performance with Ricoh media and not so good with Maxell. It would probably be better to lower the recording speed to 8X.


8. CDSpeed/PlexTools Scans - Page 5

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

- The LiteON SOHD-167T with patched firmware being able to read DVD5 up to 16X CAV and DVD9 up to 10X CAV. For the transfer rate tests we used the latest Nero CDSpeed version.

- The Plextor PX-716A with the latest available firmware. For scanning the disc, we used the latest PlexTools version at 2X CLV reading speed, BURST mode, with middle accuracy.

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

- Traxdata 8X DVD+R @ 8X

- Optodisc 8X DVD+R @ 8X

- MMore 8X DVD+R @ 8X

- BenQ 8X DVD+R @ 8X

- CMC Magnetics 8X DVD+R @ 8X

- Summary

Good writing quality. However it seems that the drive can still be improved with specific media, such as BenQ from Daxon and Traxdata from Ritek, where the quality was good but should be better. MMore and CMC Magnetics seems to be more preferable with firmware version 1.08 :-)


9. CDSpeed/PlexTools Scans - Page 6

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

- The LiteON SOHD-167T with patched firmware being able to read DVD5 up to 16X CAV and DVD9 up to 10X CAV. For the transfer rate tests we used the latest Nero CDSpeed version.

- The Plextor PX-716A with the latest available firmware. For scanning the disc, we used the latest PlexTools version at 2X CLV reading speed, BURST mode, with middle accuracy.

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

- Traxdata 6X DVD-RW @ 6X

- Verbatim 8X DVD+RW @ 8X

- Ricoh 8X DVD+RW @ 8X

- Summary

Increased PIE error levels and confused CDSpeed reading graphs. Best performance with Traxdata's DVD-RW media at 6X.


10. Writing Quality - 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 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.

- BenQ 16X DVD+R @ 16X

- Mitsubishi Chemicals 16X DVD+R @ 16X

- Traxdata 16X DVD+R @ 12X

- Optodisc 16X DVD+R @ 16X

- MMore 16X DVD+R @ 16X

- Ricoh 16X DVD+R @ 16X

- Traxdata 16X DVD-R @ 12X

- Ridisc 16X DVD+R @ 16X

- BenQ 16X DVD-R @ 16X

- Mitsubishi Chemicals 16X DVD-R @ 16X

 

- CMC Magnetics 16X DVD-R @ 16X

Five out of six measured media managed to pass this quality test with good condition reported.


11. DVD+R DL - Page 1

Plextor PX-716SA offers 6X writing support for both DL formats.

For our tests this time, we chose the "Create Data Disc" feature of the CDSpeed utility. The reason for this is that we wanted to fully burn the DL media instead of just the 6.86GB we usually used.

Now let's take a look at the writing strategy for both +R and -R DL.

- DVD+R DL

Click to enlarge

This disc is the new DVD+R DL from Mitsubishi Chemicals, certified for 8X, with ID MKM 003. There are not many drives that support this media for 6X or 8X at this moment. The Plextor PX-716SA managed to start the writing task at 6X but after 5Gb of recording, it lowered the speed to 4X. The total time needed was 22:06min.

Click to enlarge

The specific media comes from Traxdata, with id RITEK D01 and is certified for 2.4X recording. Our Plextor PX-716SA managed to burn it at 4X with a time of 28:40min!!!

- DVD-R DL

Click to enlarge

Certified 6X DVD-R DL from Mitsubishi Chemicals, MKM01RD30. The PX-716SA burned it in 19:06min confirming its 6X DVD-R DL support.

Click to enlarge

This is new DVD-R DL media from Traxdata, certified for 4X writing, with id RITEK P01. The Plextor PX-716SA burned it at its certified speed of 4X in 27:29min. Note that not many drives at the time of this review, support 4X with this specific media.


12. DVD+R DL - Page 2

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

- The LiteON SOHD-167T with patched firmware being able to read DVD5 up to 16X CAV and DVD9 up to 10X CAV. For the transfer rate tests we used the latest Nero CDSpeed version.

- The Plextor PX-716A with the latest available firmware. For scanning the disc, we used the latest PlexTools version at 2X CLV reading speed, BURST mode, with middle accuracy.

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.

- Traxdata +R DL media @ 4X

- Mitsubishi Chemicals +R DL media @ 6X

- Mitsubishi Chemicals -R DL media @ 6X

- Traxdata -R DL media @ 4X

Good writing quality for the Plextor while it seems that the new DVD-R DL media from Traxdata is as good as that from Mitsubishi Chemicals. Overspeeding with Traxdata DVD+R DL is best avoided. It is safer to burn at 2.4X instead of at 4X.


13. Summary

Readers are advised to first read the original Plextor PX-716A review that contains the full suite of tests.

The Plextor PX-716SA comes with a better firmware. This newest firmware revision adds new media, especially at 16X for both DVD+R and DVD-R formats. After reading the PX-716A review, it's possible that you might think the previous firmware was better, but this is not the case. Media which could only be burned at maximum 12X with great quality, is now supported at 16X with only a small loss in quality in some cases. Originally, these media could not go higher than 12X since the writing quality was not good. However, with the appropriate adjustments in the most recent firmware, this has been fixed.

Less media are now supported at 12X, either because of the reason previously mentioned or because the new firmware slows down the speed to 8X for the safer and more reliable results. Generally, we believe that the overall performance of the drive has been improved.

Despite the fact that Plextor already has a newer burner on the market, the PX-740A, the PX-716A/AL/SA is still a good and reliable solution. There are also not many manufacturers that offer drives in IDE and SATA interfaces, for greater compatibility.

At the time of this update, the price for the Plextor PX-716SA on the e-market (Pricegrabber, newegg, etc), is around US$112 for the bulk version and close to $135 for the retail. The newer PX-740A costs much less, close to US$80 but it lacks the SATA interface and Plextools support. So, if you need a Serial ATA drive, the PX-716SA is a very good choice while providing Plextools support. The new PX-740A does not support Plextools and does not offer a SATA interface. A future release of the PX-740A with SATA is not something you can depend on since Plextor has stopped making its own drives and has opted for an OEM solution, as in the case of the PX-740A which is manufactured by BenQ.



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