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Appeared on: Friday, October 14, 2005
Plextor PX-130A


1. Introduction

A DVD-ROM device is always welcome, whether it's for reading or ripping purposes. With that in mind, Plextor has released it's latest DVD-ROM model, the PX-130A, with 16X max DVD reading speed and 50X for CD. In the ensuing pages, we will see how this drive performs, its error correction capabilities and ripping potential.

- Specifications

Model Plextor PX-130A DVD-ROM
Compatible Formats CD-DA, CD-ROM, CD-R, CD-RW, Photo-CD, Video-CD, CD-EXTRA (CD Plus), CD Text
DVD-ROM, DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-RW, DVD+RW
Performance
Access Time CD 100ms
DVD 90ms
Data Buffer Size 512Kb
Front Panel
Eject
Auto Eject
Dimensions & Weight Dimensions (W/H/D) : 148 x 42.2 x 177.5 mm
Weight : 0.8 kg
Reliability
MTBF 100.000 POH
Disc Loading 30.000 times
Warranty 2 year Fast Warranty Service (in EU, Norway and Switzerland: Collect & Return); 1 year in other countries

The specifications for the Plextor PX-130A as reported by the Nero Info tool.

Note the firmware revision. The drive shipped with version 1.01, but for the purposes of our tests was flashed with the latest available, 1.02 revision.

Following is a list of specifications as reported by Plextools Professional Version 2.19 (the bundled software).

The specifications as reported by VSO.

The drive also uses the RPC II region control, allowing a user to change the drive's region at most 5 times.

- The package

The PX-130A comes in two colors, beige and the black. The beige (reviewed drive) comes in a retail package, while the black comes in a bulk version only. The retail package, contains the PX-130A, mounting screws, playback software :WinDVD (InterVideo) and Plextools Professional (version 2.19).

A close-up of the drive's front panel. As mentioned above, we received the beige coloured drive. Simple design, with an indicator led and the DVD-ROM and Plextor logos.

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

On the side, we can see the ventilation holes, which are meant to help circulate air and hence improve reliability and performance.

Removing the drives cover, renders the guarantee void so we advise against it. For a quick look under the hood, feel free to click on the image below for a larger and more comprehensive view of the drives inner mechanism.

- Installation

The drive was installed as a secondary master and was identified by Windows XP as PLEXTOR DVD-ROM PX-130A. As mentioned earlier in this page, we received the drive with firmware revision 1.01 installed but we flashed it with the latest available firmware from Plextor. Some tests were done with the 1.01 firmware revision. Afterwards we repeated with fw1.02. The firmware can be found here.

For comparison, we will be posting the results of the Plextor 130A along with the results of the ASUS DVD-E616A and the LITEON SOHD-16P9S DVD-ROM drives.


2. Transfer Rate Reading Tests

In order to test and confirm the CD reading specifications for all drive, we used one CD pressed media, a copy on CD-R and HS-RW media. The results are given in the following graphs.

 

- CD Format

With Pressed CD reading, the Plextor PX-130A was the fastest of the three drives, with the LiteOn close behind. The Asus was\slower due to its max supported reading speed of 42X with the specific media.

Once again, good performance with CDR media. The reviewed drive was only marginally slower that the LiteOn.

Last test with CD media and specifically, USRW media. The drive was the slowest of the three with this type of media, although speed differences are considered negligible.

- DVD Format

We tested the performance of the Plextor PX-130A DVD-ROM drive with a variety of DVD-ROM media.

 

The PX-130A confirmed the manufacturer's specifications reaching 16X maximum speed with an average of 12.13X. All three drives hade very similar times.

The following DVD is a PTP DVD-ROM where the two layers of the disc are read sequentially, with the drive starting reading from the inner part of the disc, which is the beginning of each layer, progressing towards the outer range for each layer.

The Plextor drive was the fastest and with a difference, reading the PTP DL media.

The graph shown below, shows the reading performance of the three drives with OTP dual layer 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.

Once again, the PX-130A proved to be the faster reader, this time with DVD-ROM DL media.

Here we will be testing the performance of the PX-130A with recordable and re-writable media. We measured reading times for each type of media with the Nero CD-Speed Utility.

The reviewed drive performed well with write once and re-writable media, although speeds with the ASUS drive were the fastest.

We ripped the contents of a pressed Double Layer movie to the hard disk using all three drives. The results are summarized below:

At 11259 Kb/s average, the PX-130 performed admirably in this test, coming slightly behind the ASUS drive. We expected a higher ripping speed, simply due to the tradition of Plextor drives as being the top (fastest) rippers.

-Appendix Nero CD-DVD Speed Graphs

You might notice in the above graphs that the tests were done with the 1.01 firmware revision. We repeated the tests with the 1.02 but we didn't noticed any difference in speed.


3. CD Error Correction Tests

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

- ABEX TCD-721R

Errors total Num: 1583880
Errors (Loudness) dB(A) Num:71503 Avg: -74.8 dB(A) Max: -18.2 dB(A)
Error Muting Samples Num: 4787 Avg: 1.3 Samples Max: 626 Samples
Skips Samples Num: 2 Avg: 6.0 Samples Max: 6 Samples
Total Test Result 70.8 points (of 100.0 maximum)

The results in this test indicate average performance. The total error count is a little high and the max -18.2dB(A) error level is also high while there were skipped samples.

- 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: 0.0 Samples Max: 0 Samples
Skips Samples Num: 0 Avg: 0.0 Samples Max: 0 Samples
Total Test Result 100 points (out of 100.0 maximum)

A perfect 100 points total test result is achieved here, indicating good CD error correction capabilities.

- 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 PX-130A 5/5 5/5 3/5 0/5 0/5

Three out of five (3/5) in the third track indicates less than average CD error correction for this particular test. Performance should have been a lot better here.


4. DVD Error Correction Tests

In the following tests, we examine the DVD reading capabilities of the drive with scratched / defective DVD media. For the tests, we used CDVD Benchmark and Nero CDSpeed. The reference test media came from ALMEDIO.

- Single Layer media

ABEX TDR-821

This is a single sided, single layer DVD-ROM with 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 we can see form the above graph, the performance of the PX-130A with the 821 test disc is excellent. No errors or speed variations and a smooth line, indicating good DVD error correction.

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.

Once more, great performance with defective DVD media. The artificially defective areas did not pose a problem for the error correction mechanism of the PX-130A DVD-ROM drive.

- 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.

With a near perfect graph yet again, the PX-130A read over the defective areas on Dual Layer media.

ABEX TDR-845

The disc is a single sided, dual layer DVD-ROM disc with 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 micrometers.

Great DVD error correction capabilities once more from our reviewed drive. Both layers were read without errors or speed variations.

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 upon 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.

No errors or drops in speed with this test disc from the PX-130A DVD-ROM. Excellent performance.

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 disc's surface, sized from 0.4 to 1.0 mm. It also has 65 - 75 micrometer thickness, fingerprints.

In 14:06mins, the drive made quick work of the 545 test disc, managing to complete the reading without errors.

Excellent DVD error correction capabilities. The Plextor PX-130A is surely the definitive reader when it comes to DVD media. A great addition to the DVD-ROM market.


5. DAE Tests

- Pressed and CDR AudioCD results

The following results were produced when using Exact Audio Copy.

 

The Plextor PX-130A supports up to 40X max DAE speed.

- Advanced DAE Quality

The Plextor drive proved to be fastest of the three drives, while all drives had a perfect 100 quality score.

- Ripping 90mins AudioCDs

- Ripping 99mins AudioCDs

Unfortunately, the drive cannot read/rip 90mins and 99mins discs.


6. Protected AudioCDs

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

The tested protected Audio discs were:

Audio Discs Protection
Celine Dion - New Day Has Come Sony's Key2Audio
Natalie Imbruglia - White Lilies Island Cactus Data Shield 200
Aiko Katsukino - The Love Letter Cactus Data Shield 200.0.4 - 3.0 build 16a

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 Plextor drive recognized up to the 12th Audio track of CDS200 disc,

and with the "Retrieve Native TOC" option removed, the 13th track was also recognized.

The test results are shown in the following table:

Plextor PX-130A 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

With Key2Audio discs and CDS200, EAC didn't report any timing problems and at the same time, Read&Test CRC check comparison was the same for corresponding tracks.

- Cactus Data Shield 200.0.4 - 3.0 build 16a (Aiko Katsukino - The Love Letter)

This is a "special" CDS200 build, since it doesn't contain any artificial errors 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 with 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 AudioCD+CD-Text. The burned media was checked for C1/C2 errors and for BETA/Jitter errors with PlexTools software using Plextor PX-716A.

 

Plextor PX-130A CDS 200.0.4 - 3.0 build 16a
Reading performed without any errors.

 


7. Protected Disc 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 00:47min 1898 sectors/sec
Serious Sam The Second Encounter v1.07 SafeDisc v.2.60.052 01:09:16 min 555 sectors/sec
VRally II SecuROM v.2 02:37min 2225 sectors/sec

Excellent and consistently fast ripping in all cases, the PX-130A proved to be the fastest ripper. All games ripped successfully.


8. Quality Scans

Plextor drives are known for providing quality measurements with the aid of the Plextools professional utility (the PX-740A is an exception to the rule), which as with all Plextor drive retail packages, comes as bundled software. We installed the bundled version of Plextools Pro version 2.19 on our system and tried to use the quality measurements features of the drive.

Unfortunately, the PI/PO Q-check feature is not supported by the drive, as well as all the advanced quality checks of the Plextools Professional Utility. The Plextools professional in this case, offers Digital Audio Extraction and Read Transfer Rate functions with this drive. Of course, you could use the EAC utility to extract from audio media, which would render the Plextools Professional in this case, unnecessary.


9. Conclusion

The Plextor PX-130A DVD-ROM is a great addition to the DVD-ROM market. A fast DVD-ROM reader, with either Single Layer or Dual Layer media, as well as CD media. Its DVD error correction capabilities are unparalleled, as it managed to read flawlessly all inserted artificially defective test media. As a DVD ripper, the drive performed well, although we expected better performance following in the tradition of Plextor drives which are known to be great rippers and generally the fastest on the market.

When it comes to protected media, the PX-130A is a very capable drive. As you will see in the previous pages, the audio protected media were ripped successfully with the aid of the EAC utility, while during playback, no errors were noticed. In the protected games arena, the Plextor drive is one of the best rippers out there, managing to successfully rip in 2:07mins, even safedisc protected media, which is known to cause problems for most market drives.

A "flaw" of the PX-130A drive is its CD-error correction mechanism, which can be described as less than average, as was evident in the CD error correction test page. Other than that, the Plextor drive is a good overall DVD-ROM drive with fast ripping and great DVD reading, especially with defective media.



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