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Appeared on: Monday, February 18, 2002
PleXWriter PX-W1210S CD-RW


1. Installation
PleXWriter PX-W1210S SCSI CDR-W - Page 1

Introduction:
Plextor has a big history in producing top quality products. Their first CD-ROM was released back in 1990 (when the company's was still named "Texel Corporation"), and their first burner appeared in 1994. From 1994 till nowadays Plextor have produced many readers and writers, and many of them have made it to the bestseller lists. Plextor was the first company, which shipped a 12/10/32 ATAPI CDR-W drive with "BURN-Proof" technology. Plextor goes one step ahead from the competition and ships it's first 12/10/32 SCSI CDR-W with improved "BURN-Proof" technology. Hmm.. <Improved "BURN-Proof" technology? What does this mean?

First generation of "BURN-Proof" technology ensured that the distance between the 2 sectors lied at around 40m (i.e. well within the limits set by the Orange Book), and in this way fully corrected data was written to disc.

Can this improvement be called crucial for the users? According to Plextor NO:

"....Plextor considers that comparing Gap length of BURN-Proof between 40 um and 2-5 um is meaningless, as the length is well below 100 um. Any gap below 100 um will be automatically corrected by Error Correction System (ECC) built in any CD-ROM drive or CD Player. No user will ever recognize nor feel such difference when reading data or hearing music from recorded CD-R/RW. Therefore, Plextor does not consider difference in such gap length between our PX-W1210A and PX-W1210TS as an improvement..."

We think that it is an improvement since the drive uses the latest build of "BURN-Proof". Might also want to hear what Ricoh has to say about previous "BURN-Proof" build...:

".. Usually, with other technologies, a gap around 40m (a data blank) is created, whereas Just Link gaps are always less than 2m. One would not expect C2 errors to occur at 40 m, when talking about 12 writing speed but -to visualise-, if the current writing speed doubles to 24x, the link would be 80 m long.  In this case, one would not be able to negate the possibility of error. In contrast, even with 24x writing speed, Just Link allows sufficient margin with a link section no larger than 4 m. In other words, the Just Link method has the scope and flexibility to cope with whatever writing speed.."

Confused? Don't be! Both 'BURN-Proof" and "JustLink" technologies are producing perfect CDs. As long as the length gap stays below 100m, from the last successful sector to the new sector, there won't be any noticeable fault to the user or won't affect the data at all.

Package:
The retail version that arrived at our offices included the drive (PX-W1210S), a manual (in 12 languages!), a quick installation guide which gives important info for the people who find reading the full manual a bit boring, 2 blank CDs (one recordable and one HS RW erasable), an audio cable, and software:

- WinOnCD Version v3.70.572-1
- Adaptec DirectCD v3.01e (for Win2k)
- CeQuadrat PacketCD/9x v3.00.209
- CeQuadrat PacketCD/NT v2.50.044
- BackMeUp LT v3.00.46-2
- Driver Disk C-320-3
- PlexTools v1.06

all that's necessary to get started right away. The Plextor manual needs some improvement especially for the novice user. The CDR media was exactly the same (Ricoh) as in the PX-W1210A retail package. However the HS RW media now comes from Mitsubishi:

ATIP: 97m 34s 23f
Disc Manufacturer: Mitsubishi Chemicals Corp.
Assumed Dye type: Cyanine (Type 3)
Media type: CD-ReWritable
Recording Speeds: min. 4X - max. 8X
nominal Capacity: 656.40MB (74m 43s 00f / LBA: 336075)

Let know see the front of the PleXWriter PX-W1210S. As you will notice nothing really have changed in the front of the drive exept! one new logo is added from previous PX-W1210A model (BPRec logo) which also showed in the new Sanyo CRD-BP1300P. Probably which shows the new improved build of BURN-Proof:

The drive still has 4 leds, which show what exactly the drive does:

CD-R

CD-RW

CD-RW HS

L

1x, 4x, 8x

2x, 4x

-

H

12x

-

-

L+H

-

-

4x, 8x, 10x

In the back of the drive you will notice the extra fan, which will keep the drive cool even when you use it in a high temperature environment. Don't forget that this machine is also aimed for Pro use ;)

- Installation:
Installing the PleXWriter PX-W1210A was an easy process. We changed the SCSI ID from 4 (default) to 1. During boot-up, the BIOS identified the drive as Plextor CD-R PX-W1210S. We then made some minor configuration changes to Windows ME. These were: disabling auto-insert notification and checking Sync Data Transfer. The supplied drive was manufactured in September 2000 and the onboard firmware revision was version 1.00. We didn't use the bulked WinOnCD and PacketCD/DirectCD for our tests. We used Nero v5.0.2.4 and Prassi abCD for all tests.

However, we installed PlexTools v1.06, since it offers some helpful information to the user and allows certain setting tweaks. With it you can change the drive's properties (spin-down time, speed selection, lock/unlock of the tray, etc.). Other useful features offered by PlexTools are the ability for data CD Copy, Digital Audio Extraction, AudioCD authoring plus CD-Text option. A must-use for the Plextor user!

Test Machine:
WinMe
ABIT BH6
Celeron 300A over clocked to 450 MHz
164 MB SDRAM PC 100
WD 18GB UDMA 66
Quantum Fireball EX 6.4 GB UDMA 33
DAWI 2975 - PCI (ULTRA) SCSI Host Adapter
ATI AIW 128
Plextor UltraPlex 40max firmware v1.04
PlexWriter PX-W1210S firmware v1.00 (TLA#000)
Sanyo CRD-BP3 firmware v1.03
TDK CyClone firmware v1.02 (TLA#202)


2. Data Tests

PleXWriter PX-W1210S SCSI CDR-W - Page 2

Data Tests

Test Method:
- SCSI Mechanic v3.0: This was used to compare the Plextor's I/O performance against other various CDR-W drives (see charts). We used a pressed CD containing PlexTools v1.05 for all of the tests.
- CD Speed 99 v0.75 was also used to check the drive performance with pressed CDs. For that test we used PlexTools v1.05 original CD.

- SCSI Mechanic v3.0 results

As you can see from the graph above, the PX-W1210S drive performed as good as the IDE model. It produced approximately the same Random I/O (690kb/s) and "Average Sequential I/O" (3682kb/s) results but gave the best "Average Same Sector I/O" (15600kb/s) compared to the PX-W1210A (12904kb/s) and TDK CyClone (12924kb/s).

- CD Speed 99 v0.75 results

Using CD Speed 0.75, we can see that PX-W1210S is slightly slower than TDK CyClone and PX-W1210A. Of course the gap is meaningless (24.69x to 24.98x) but it exists..

That is something interesting. The PX-W1210S has much lower seek times compared to the PX-W1210A and TDK CyClone! That is a welcomed improvement over the previous model.

Verdict of data (pressedCDs) tests
The PlexWriter PX-W1210S seems to be as fast as the IDE (PX-W1210A) model. In some cases performed slightly worse, however a gap of 0.3-0.6x doesn't mean anything for the normal user. Its average reading speed using PlexTools v1.05 was 24.69x, PX-W1210A has slightly higher (24.98x) and TDK CyClone the best with 25.00x. It's seek times are way improved over PX-W1210A and TDK CyClone and as it seems Plextor worked hard for the new model.

In the SCSI Mechanic tests, the PX-W1210S shares the first place with PX-W1210A and TDK CyClone. The drive delivered an average sequential reading result of 3.682mb/s, which is about the same that PX-W1210A and TDK CyClone gave back. The drive has the best "Average Same Sector I/O" possible due to SCSI interface over the IDE models. Overall, the PleXWriter PX-W1210S seems to deliver the same performance as the PX-W1210A Ide model did. In some areas (seek times) it's even better and will make you much happier if you have CDs with lot of small files..


3. RW reading tests

PleXWriter PX-W1210S SCSI CDR-W - Page 3

RW reading tests

For the RW tests we used Ricoh HS RW media written at 10x speed. The TDK CyClone drive has slightly better performance than PX-W1210A, which is however far away from what Sanyo CRD-BP3 delivers:

CloneCD Tests

Procedure:
We used CloneCD (v2.7.8.1) and 3 original CDs (Rally Masters, Euro2000 and Incoming) in order to test the reading time for PleXWriter PX-W1210S  (firmware v1.00). We also tested the reading performance with backups of the original CDs since the reading speed varies among original and backup media. For comparison reasons we added the results from Plextor PX-W1210A (firmware v1.04). Remember, the drive is fully supported from CloneCD:

Results:
a) SafeDisc Results:Euro 2000 (Total: 257982 sectors - 10141 bad sectors) - Reading Speed: Max

Drive

CD

Fast Skip Error - O retries - Software Correction

"Intelligent Bad Sector Scanner" + Best "Fast Skip Error" result

Plextor PX-W1210A
vs
Plextor PX-W1210S

Original

2:35 min

2:39 min

 4:02 min

4:19 min

Backup

3:40 min

15:23 min

4:45 min

14:52 min

b) LaserLock Results: Rally Masters (Total: 321528 sectors - 6317 bad sectors) - Reading Speed: Max

Drive

CD

Fast Skip Error - O retries - Software Correction

"Intelligent Bad Sector Scanner" + Best "Fast Skip Error" result

Plextor PX-W1210A
vs
Plextor PX-W1210S

Original

-

52:21 min

54:55 min

Backup

3:38 min

3:04 min

3:05 min

4:58min

c) SecuROM Results

Drive

CD

Read SubChannel Data from Data Tracks

Plextor PX-W1210A
vs
Plextor PX-W1210S

Original

3:55 min

3:57 min

Backup

3:53min

3:56 min

Verdict of CloneCD Tests:
The Plextor PX-W1210S as we expected gave a good performance with CloneCD. The drive can read hell fast (as most Plextor drives) original SafeDisc protected CDs. Notice however that the PX-W1210A model still has a slightly better reading time. When we used the backup of the SafeDisc protected CD the performance wasn't so great as before.. :(

When using the drive for reading LaserLock protected CDs have patience since it takes around 50mins for making the image of the CD. The same performance comes also from PX-W1210A (IDE model) so we don't think it's a drawback.

Finally, the PX-W1210S can read SubChannel data (TLA#000) as also our PX-W1210A (TLA#000) had. The drive really reads them fast and takes 3:57mins to complete the task. We hope that the next TLA series models will not have the same problem with reading SubChannel data as was faced with the PX-W1210A model series.


4. DAE Tests

PleXWriter PX-W1210S SCSI CDR-W - Page 4

DAE Tests

Test Method:
We used CD DAE 99 v0.2 with AudioCDs in order to check DAE performance of the Plextor PX-W1210S and we compared it with the Plextor PX-W1210A, TDK CyClone and Sanyo BP3 models.

- Pressed AudioCD results:
We can announce the new King of DAE performance! The PX-W1210S takes the lead in our tests since it delivered 22.1x average ripping speed. The drive's DAE performance it is much improved and can now go up to 32x (max). The PX-W1210A and TDK CyClone models have slightly slower performance (21.02x) and let's better not talk about the Sanyo CRD-BP3:

- Princo 74min AudioCD:
The PX-W1210S continues to deliver the best DAE performance around and climbs up to 22.8x. PX-W1210A and TDK CyClone drives stay behind with 21.6x:

- Advanced DAE Quality

Now that was a pleasant surprise? The PX-W1210S is the first Plextor CDR-W drive to get 100 (perfect) score in the Advanced DAE quality tests. The PX-W1210A and the TDK CyClone drives have lower score (98.5). That's a major improvement, which shows that Plextor technicians are always in fire for delivering the best around performance..

Hmm? Hold on a minute. What if i have written a 99min AudioCD?Will I be able to rip/read it with PX-W1210S? The answer is no! Both PX-W1210A/S models stop reading CDs around 89mins..Don't believe me? Check the pic at the right. The drive after 22 tracks returns a negative start/end time of song.. Of course most users don't have to worry about this since Plextor PX-W1210S cannot write 99min CDs. The drive can read/write fine 90min CDs!

Verdict of DAE Results:
The PleXWriter PX-W1210S has the best around DAE performance for a CDR-W drive. The drive can go up to 32x (max) when ripping AudioCDs! PX-W1210A had locked DAE speed to 24x. That's a major improvement. Also PX-W1210S has improved its engine and now gets 100 (perfect) score in the CD Speed Advanced DAE quality tests! What else you can ask from a drive?


5. CDR Tests

PleXWriter PX-W1210S SCSI CDR-W - Page 5

CDR Tests

- Recorder properties: (Screenshot from Feurio v1.55 b4)

As we can see, the Plextor drive supports all current CDR/W writing modes including DAO RAW and BURN-Proof! Notice that the current (1.51.4) version of English Feurio doesn't support the drive officially (works with compatible  PX-W1210A driver) so you cannot see RW writing speeds in the above pic.

Let's head over to the CDR tests now:

Procedure:
We tested the TDK CyClone with the latest software which supports it and with several media:

- Software used: Nero v5.0.2.4 /  Padus DJ v3.00.730 / CloneCD v2.7.8.1 / Feurio v1.55b4
- Media: Princo 74 & 80min / Ricoh Platinum 74 & 80min / Mitsui Gold& SG / TDK 74 & 80 min / Verbatim74min / Ricoh HS RW / TDK HS RW media

CDR-R Tests:
The PleXWriter PX-W1210S comes with WinOnCD 3.7 version. We used the latest Nero version (5.0.2.4) for all of our tests. We made a Data CD job with data slight higher than 74mins (74:03:65). We burned the same job with all 4 CDR-W drives:

The PX-W1210S gave back different scores for writing the SAME amount of data and media than PX-W1210A and TDK CyClone drives. The PX-W1210S only took 407 secs to finish up the job, just one more second than the Sanyo CRD-BP3. As we can see we have another improvement. The CPU Usage for the PX-W1210S is little higher (10.14%) than the Sanyo drive (9.85%) but much lower than PX-W1210A and TDK CyClone (13.5%) drives when writing at 12x.

- 80min CDs:
As previous we created a datacd with Nero 5.0.2.4 and used the same media for all burns (Ricoh 80min 12x):

As we saw, before with the 74min CDs, all of four drives had timing differences between them. The Sanyo continues to deliver the lowest burning time. The TDK CyClone, Plextor PX-W1210A/S have again the exact same burning times to finish the job.

- Overburning Tests:
The PX-W1210S can burn 90min CDs without any problems. We used 90min CDs (from Medea inIernational) and by using Nero we burned them up to 89mins without any problem at 12x. The drive can also read the 90min CDs fine.

- AudioCD Tests:
We created several Audio CDs (including CD-Text). All of the CDs we created, were tested with the Plextor PX-40TS and Plextor's CD-Text compatible CD player. From what we saw, everything worked just fine.

- CloneCD Tests:
The PleXWriter PX-W1210S supports DAO-RAW feature so it is fully supported from CloneCD. As with the previous Plextor models, you don't't have the option to "Simulate" burning.. That should not trouble users since with 10xRW media you can have your backup test CD in less than 9mins. Since the drive supports BURN-Proof you will be able to make on-the fly copies when v3.0 of CloneCD arrives :)

- Buffer Underrun tests:
As we said in the Introduction, PX-W1210S supports the newest build of "BURN-Proof" technology. That means you will get better quality CDs, the difference with previous BURN-Proof version is not noticeable to user, at least in your mind? All the tests we have done confirmed our claims. No matter what you do, you  won't get a coaster, at least due to buffer underrun!

Verdict of CDR Results:
The PleXWriter PX-W210S was a very good performer in all our tests. The drive supports most current writing modes and this will enable users to write/backup almost all current CDs. Since the drive supports "BURN-Proof" you will not have any problems with buffer underruns. Writing at 12x, both 74min and 80min CDs, is a joy. The drive supports overburning and can write up to 89:00mins.The users will find "DAO-RAW" mode useful when the time comes for backing up their protected CDs. The build-in fan will keep the drive cool even when writing many CDs in row.

The user might wonder why the drive comes with 4MB since it supports BURN-Proof. The answer is that Plextor wants also the drive used for professional use (TOWERS), which of course cannot support the "BURN-Proof" feature, so the 4MB buffer are important for 12x writing.


6. RW Writing Tests

PleXWriter PX-W1210S SCSI CDR-W - Page 6

RW Writing Tests

We used Nero 5.0.2.4 for writing CDs in 10x RW writing speed since the drive supports the new HS RW recording standard. We created a 74min Data Job task and burned it with all 4 recorders:

All 3 Plextor based drives gave back the exact same time for finishing the task (488sec). The Sanyo drive made the task 5seconds earlier. When the time comes to erase your HS RW media all Plextor drives and TDK CyClone drives managed exactly the same time again (44sec) and Sanyo achieved the best time with 39secs. No problems were noticed when writing to 10x with new adopted Mitsubishi HS RW media.

- Packet Writing Tests:
We used Prassi abCD v1.5.269 for all Packet Writing tests. We used Ricoh HS RW media and we formatted it. The formatting of the media takes around 8min. After formatting, we tested all three drives for their packet writing performance. The formatted disc had 530mbs of free space. We copied a 403 MB file (403.1476kbs) from a Hard Disk (on the same pc as the writers) to the formatted RW media-using explorer (we dragged and dropped) we completed the test twice to eliminate possible time measurement faults and user error:

The results show clearly that the Plextor PX-W1210S drive has the best reading/writing speed results when compared to the other three drives. If we take a closer look at the absolute numbers the PX-W1210S has slighter reading/writing speeds than PX-W1210A. The difference is not that big but it exists. The TDK CyClone drive has close writing speed but much lower reading speed. The Sanyo CRD-BP3 has the worst reading/writing speeds.

Verdict of CDR-W Results:
The PleXWriter PX-W1210S has a very good RW and packet writing performance. The drive supports 10xRW writing, which will enable users to quickly backup their data. If you choose to use packet writing as an alternative way to backup your data you will not get disappointed. The PX-W1210S performs very well and delivers the best reading/writing speeds.


7. Conclusion

PleXWriter PX-W1210S SCSI CDR-W - Page 7

Conclusion

Positive (+)

Negative (-)

- Improved Burn Proof (anti-coaster) technology
- SCSI Interface
- Supports HighSpeed RW standard
- Supports reading/writing MMC DAO RAW
- Support most burn speeds (1x,4x,8x,12x)
- Supports CD-Text
- Supports Overburning (write up to 89mins)
- Very good data performance
- Best DAE performance around
- Good package and bulked software
- Cooling fan
- Good CloneCD reading performance

- Price compared to PX-W1210A

The PleXWriter PX-W1210S is currently one of the best technology equipped CDR-W drive. The PX-W1210S is the only drive ,for now, that includes the improved "BURN-Proof" technology. Don't forget that soon after, other manufacturers will also ship drives with the improved "BURN-Proof" version. The drive produced nearly no flaws to its reading/writing performance even when compared to the famous best selling Plextor PX-W1210A (ATAPI model). The drive delivers 12x writing, 10x re-writing and 32x reading.

We think that the facts are clear for the possible buyer, which has to choose between the Plextor PX-W1210A and the PX-W1210S. The known SCSI vs. IDE model war continues. Even both drive share some components they have different philosophy. The PX-W1210S refers directly to users with lot of expectations as well to professionals. The 4MB of buffer and the cooling fan makes the drive ideal for 12x replicator towers and that is something definitely Plextor thought when designed the drive.

Don't forget that the PX-W1210S will have increased price compared to the PX-W1210A. As we heard the recommended end-userprice (MSRP) is $379, when the PX-W1210A costs around 250$. On the other hand, the PX-W1210A is pointed to the user who enters the CD area and wants to buy an affordable, fast and easy to install drive and have a low price. Both drives will not let you down at the most tasks you will probably ever face to your burning "life".



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