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Appeared on: Thursday, July 25, 2002
Plextor PX-208T


1. Introduction

Plextor PX-208T combo CDRW/DVD - Page 1

- Introduction

Plextor PX-208T combo drive is a CD-RW and DVD combo player, designed for all those that ask for a portable drive able to write their daily CD-R/RW and read almost all kind of DVD formats. The drive supports USB1.1/2.0 interfaces and small dimensions, offering increased portability and easy installation.

Plextor PX-208T is an 8X8X24 CD-RW drive plus an 8X DVD-ROM. (USB 2.0).

Main features:

- 8x writing ,8x re-writing, 24x reading (CD), 8x DVD
- Supported interfaces: USB 1.1 & 2.0
- Dimensions: 141 x 22x 171 mm (L x W x H)
- Weight: 470 gr
- Buffer: 2MB and BURN-Proof technology
- PoweRec II technology
- Write methods: TAO, SAO, DAO Packet writing

The drive has RPCII region protection, meaning you can change the region 4 times. Till now there isn't any region free firmware. Nero Info tool reports faulty that the drive supports RPCI region. Using CDVDInfo software, we can see the region status of the drive:

- Unpacking

The supplied package was the retail Japanese and included the drive, a manual, Nero Express and InCD as a writing/packet writing software and Cyberlink PowerDVD XP v4.0 as a DVD movie software. The package also included a 650MB black CD-R, a warranty registration form, a pluggable power module an AC power adapter and USB 1.1/2.0 connection cable. There isn't any HS-RW media included in the retail package.

The drive comes with one-year warranty in Japan and USA. As Plextor informed us, the drive will not be available in the European territory...The price in the USA is around $260, as pricewatch.com reported.

The drive has a front-open tray, is colored to black included the tray, specially designed for minimizing the jitter when you write your favorite audio CDs. On the top of the drive there is the "Plextor" logo among with two more logos with the drive's writing/reading specifications.

On the front panel (tray) there are the "DVD-ROM" and "HS-RW" logos, the eject button, the operation led and a emergency eject hole.

On the rear panel there are the power and the USB connectors.

The volume control, headphone jack and power switch are found on the right side of the drive.

- Installation

Windows XP recognized the drive immediately after connecting it through the USB 2.0 interface, with the name "Plextor PX-208T". The software installed is v1.00, TLA # 0000. The drive is a June 2002 model.


2. Data CD Tests

Plextor PX-208T combo CDRW/DVD - Page 2

Data CD Tests

- Pressed CD results: (Click to see the CD Speed Graphs)

Plextor PX-208T finished the pressed disc reading test with 18.96X average speed. Compared to the Freecom Traveller II, the Plextor drive is slightly faster, due to the increased reading speed in the end of the disc, which reached the 25X.

In the same test, we measured the seek time of the drive. As you can see in the graph above, Freecom Traveller II is faster and takes the lead from Plextor with 86 ms in the random access test. In the full seek mode, Freecom is still faster with 198 ms.

- CDR Media results: (Click to see the CD Speed Graphs)

Both drives improved their reading performance with the CDR media. The differences are the same, and Plextor is faster with 19.41X average reading speed.

In the seek test, the Plextor drive kept approximately the same performance as in the pressed disc test. Freecom Traveller is still faster in all seek modes.

- HS-RW media: (Click to see the CD Speed Graphs)

For the RW tests we used the Ricoh HS-RW media. The PX-208T supports 10X CLV maximum reading speed and that was confirmed from our tests. Freecom traveller is faster since it supports 24X reading speed for HS-RW media.


3. CD Error Correction tests
Plextor PX-208T combo CDRW/DVD - Page 3

CD Error Correction tests

In the following tests we examine the error correction capabilities of Plextor PX-208T. We use the built-in Nero CD Speed v0.99.3 CD Quality test. The reference test media come from ALMEDIO and Philips corporations.

- ABEX TCD-714R

This test disc has been produced for measuring and adjusting the tracking servo characteristics of the drive, against the eccentricity of compact disc. The fundamental characteristics of this disc other than on eccentricity are compatible with the standards in "Red Booklet".

The test examines the ability to trace eccentricity of the compact disc player. In reference to a zero eccentricity disc, we check the following phenomena:

a. There is skipping of sound tracks
b. Requires excess time to locate or cannot locate the starting point of the tune.
c. Mechanical noise is heard from the CD player
d. Requires excess time to read or cannot read the TOC information
e. The spindle motor runs wild

Physical characteristics of disc:

Eccentricity: 280 micro meters
Deviation: 3 micro meters

Our tests did not show any of the above negative behaviors from the Yamaha CRW-F1.

- ABEX TCD-721R

This test disc is produced with the objective of measuring and adjusting the CD player's tracking servo characteristics and error correction ability against scratches on the disc. Artificial scratches with lengths from 1.8 mm to 3.0 mm are found on the disc. The phenomenon that may occur during playback of the disc contents are:

a. Noise is created
b. The sound skips
c. The same section is repeatedly played
d. Start of the tune cannot be detected
e. The spindle motor rotates erratically (reverse rotation, change in revolution, e.t.c)

Nero CD Speed showed that the drive gave 1178633 read errors during the reading process. The read errors occurred when the size of the errors on the disc became large enough, and continue until the end of the disc.

- ABEX TCD-726

This disc is produced for measurement and adjustment of error ability and tracking / focusing servo characteristics of a CD player against defects included in some discs. Three kind of defects, interruption, black dots and fingerprints are prepared in this disc. The interruption defects are sized from 0.5 mm to 1.0 mm. The black dots are from 0.4 mm to 1.0 mm. Lastly, the fingerprints are from 65 to 75 micro meters.

Plextor PX-280T gave some read errors in the artificially interrupted areas of the disc, and also in the wide black dot spot.

- PHILIPS SBC-444A

Another test disc that comes from Philips. The purpose of this disc is adjustment / checking of the CD player. Note that the disc is not within specification concerning local defects. The defects found on the disc are interruptions of the information layer, black dots at out-read area, and simulated fingerprint.

The drive did not have any reading problems with the specific disc. The reading speed was gradually increased as the drive reached to the end of the written data, at 60min.


4. DVD Tests

Plextor PX-208T combo CDRW/DVD - Page 4

DVD Tests

- Test Method

We used Nero DVD Speed v0.53 to run DVD tests (DMA enabled on all drives). All tests were performed at least 3 times with the same DVD title (we took the worst results). The tests discs were one single sided, single layer DVD-ROM, one single sided, dual layer DVD-ROM, and DVD-R,-RW, +R and DVD+RW media.

- Single Layer DVD reading: (Click for DVDSpeed results)

Plextor PX-208T read the DVD-ROM disc at 8230KB/sec. The increased end speed (11008KB/sec) makes the drive faster than Freecom Traveller II.

In the same test, DVD Speed reports that the Plextor drive has higher seek times from Freecom Traveller II. However, the results agree with the PX-208T specifications.

- Dual Layer DVD reading: (Click for DVDSpeed results)

The reading performance of Plextor PX-208T with dual layer DVD media is not as high as in the previous test. The average speed is 4092 Kb/sec. The seek times for the dual layer disc are the same as for the single layer ones.

- DVD Ripping Tests

We measured the DVD Ripping speed using the Matrix title and DVD Decrypter v3.0 software.

Plextor PX-208T ripped the movie to the hard disk at 3989 kb/s. Plextor drives usually keep the movie ripping speed in lower levels than the drive's maximum speed capabilities, in order to maintain higher quality. Freecom is faster in this test with 7118kb/s.

- DVD reading Tests

The chart below shows the Nero DVD Speed results of both drives with DVD+R, DVD-R, DVD-RW and DVD+RW media.

Plextor read all the DVD media except from DVD+RW, where the DVD Speed gave a read error. The Freecom drive cannot read correctly DVD-R and DVD+R media.


5. DVD Error Correction tests
Plextor PX-208T combo CDRW/DVD - Page 5

DVD Error Correction tests

In the following tests we examine the DVD error correction capabilities of Plextor PX-208T. For the tests we used CDVD Benchmark v1.21 and Nero DVD Speed v0.53. The reference test media comes from ALMEDIO.

- Single Layer media

ABEX TDR-821

This is a single sided, single layer DVD-ROM with a 4.7GB capacity, in which there are scratches with dimensions from 26 to 48 mm. The following picture comes from CDVD Benchmark v1.21.

Plextor PX-208T did not give any read error during the reading process. The reading speed was lowered in the heavily "scratched" areas of the disc.

ABEX TDR-825

This is also a single sided, single layer DVD-ROM with a 4.7GB capacity. The data structure of the disc is exactly the same as the TDR-821, with the difference that there no scratches on it but defected areas with dimensions from 0.5 to 1.1 mm. There also fingerprints sized from 65 to 75 mm.

The drive did not have any problems to read the disc contents. As you can see from the above graph, the yellow dots correspond to the current speed in each area of the disc. No read errors were reported.

- Dual Layer media

ABEX TDR-841

This is a 8.5GB dual layer, single sided DVD-ROM disc with artificial scratches with dimensions from 0.4 to 48 mm, in both layers.

The CDVD Benchmark did not report any read errors in both Layer 0 and Layer 1. Notice that the white lines indicate the "scratched" areas.

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 defected areas and fingerprints. The dimensions of the defected areas are ranged from 0.5 to 1.1 mm and the fingerprints are sized from 0.065 to 0.075 mm.

As in the previous tests, no read errors were reported.

ABEX TDV-541

The TDV-541 is a single sided, dual layer DVD-VIDEO disc, with 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 discs check the layer switch operation from layer 0 to layer 1 and also include test pictures and test signals for DVD sound files. The current TDV-541 checks also the error correction capabilities of the drive and includes scratches from 1.8 to 3 mm.

Nero DVD Speed shows the reading speed of Plextor PX-208T from the beginning of the disc until the end of it. The average reading speed is 4098kB/s and the layer change time is 102ms.

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 0.8 to 1.0 mm. It has also 0.065 - 0.075 mm fingerprints.

Plextor PX-208T did not have any problems in the reading test. The behavior of the drive is almost the same as in the previous test with the scratched DVD-VIDEO disc, and the layer change time is 73 ms.


6. CloneCD Reading Tests
Plextor PX-208T combo CDRW/DVD - Page 6

CloneCD Reading Tests

- Procedure

We used CloneCD and 4 original CDs - Serious Sam 2 (SafeDisc 2), Desperados (LaserLock 2), V-Rally 2 Expert (SecuROM 2) and NBA Jam Extreme (PSX) - in order to test the reading time of the drives. We also tested the reading performance with backups of the original CDs, since the reading speed varies between original and backup media. The following pictures show the drive reading/writing capabilities as CloneCD reports:

- PSX Pressed Media

For this test we used the PSX game 'NBA Jam Extreme' and we ripped the image to the HD with CloneCD. The Plextor drive was faster than Freecom traveller II and took it 1:45 min to finish the task.

- SafeDisc v.2 Results

Plextor PX-208T is faster than the freecom drive. The duration of the test for the original CD was 21 min and 23min for the backup one.

- LaserLock v.2 Results

With the LaserLock v.2 protected disc, Freecom Traveller II is slightly faster than the Plextor drive, in the original CD test. In the backup CD test, Freecom is also faster with 166.12 sectors/sec..

- SecuROM Results

Both drives can read SubChannel data from Data/Audio tracks. Plextor PX-208T is faster in both tests and needs 4:30 min to finish the task.


7. Dae Tests

Plextor PX-208T combo CDRW/DVD - Page 7

DAE Tests

- DAE features

We used EAC v0.9 reports that Plextor PX-208T drive supports caching of data, "Accurate Stream" and does not retrieve "C2" error info.

 

- Pressed AudioCD results

In this test we examine the speed of the DAE of the drives. Plextor PX-208T ripped the audio files to the hard disk with 7.6X average speed. Freecom kept the ripping speed at 8X during the process.

- CDR AudioCD results

With CD-R media, Plextor improved the ripping speed to 7.7X, and Freecom still ripped the files at 8X.

- EAC Secure Extract Ripping mode

EAC's secure extract ripping mode results, which ensures maximum produced WAV quality. Note that for each drive we used the build-in detection function:

Tested Drives
Average DAE Speed (X)
Pressed
CDR
Plextor PX-208T
4
4.1
Freecom Traveller II
2.1
2

- Advanced DAE Quality

Both drives got a 100 score (best) in the Nero CD Speed Advanced DAE test. The average speed for Plextor PX-208T was 7.67X. The drive can also read data from SubChannel and CD Text.

- CD-Check Audio Test Disc

Error Level
1
2
3
4
5
Plextor PX-208T
5/5
5/5
5/5
5/5
5/5

Plextor PX-208T fulfilled all level requirements of CD-Check test disc. The drive didn't produce any pops during the playback process.

- Bad CDR Media results

We used CD DAE 99 software to rip the whole disc (756539616 sectors) to the hard disk.

Average Speed (X)
Errors
Errors Of Total Disc (%)
Plextor PX-208T
6.7
131230297
20.33
Freecom Traveller II
8
86458
0

Plextor PX-208T ripped the files at 6.7X average speed, and the 20.33% of the disc contents were not correct.

- Ripping 90 and 99mins AudioCDs

Tested drives
Ripping up to
Plextor PX-208T
90 min

- Reading/Ripping Protected AudioCDs

For the test procedure we used 2 protected AudioCDs, which we tested in both recognition and ripping (with EAC) processes:

* Pressed AudioCD with Sony Key2Audio (Celine Dion - New Day Has Come)
* Pressed AudioCD with Cactus Data Shield 200 (Natalie Imbruglia - White Lilies Island)

Key2Audio
CDS200
EAC
Plextor PX-208T
Rips entire disc without problems
Rips entire disc without problems
Freecom Traveller II
Recognizes all tracks but cannot rip
Cannot recognize the disc contents

Plextor PX-208T did not any problems to rip the audio files with both key2audo and CDS200 discs. The drive recognized the key2audio protected disc not immediately after we inserted it to the tray, but finally it had no problem to finish the task. Freecom Traveller II cannot handle audio protected discs.


8. CDR Tests
Plextor PX-208T combo CDRW/DVD - Page 8

CDR Tests

We tested the drive with latest version of Nero/CloneCD. Plextor PX-208T supports the 2X, 4X and 8X and writing speeds. The drive uses the CLV writing strategy, as you can see from the graph below. Plextor PX-208T does not support overburning, so we burned 79min data compilations for our recording tests. The addition of PoweRec media detection system is present, even in our opinion is not needed for such low recording speeds.

- Recording Tests

Plextor PX-208 finished the task in 10:39 min. The recording time could be lower, as Freecom Traveller II burned the same amount of data in 10:02 min.

 

- Writing Quality Tests

We used Creation's (Plasmon based) 16x certified media for our writing quality tests. We used Nero and the CDs contained 699MB of data. The produced CDs, were measured from DigitalDrives and results are illustrated in the following tables:

Media
C1
Average Burning Time (secs)
Max
Average
Plasmon 16x 80min
30
1.6
639
Ritek 24x 80min
23
1.4
640

Plextor PX-208T gave very good quality results, with low C1 error rate at 8x. The graph below shows the C1 error rate appeared in the whole recorded area of a Ritek 24X 80min CD, written with PX-208T at 8X.

Click To Enlarge!

-- Overburning Tests

The drive does not support overburning.

- CD-Text Results

The drive can read/write CD-Text without any problems.

- CloneCD Writing Tests

The CloneCD reports that the drive support the DAO-RAW feature. We performed our usual tests and we confirmed that both drives support the DAO-RAW writing mode at the following CD protections: SafeDisc 1/2, LaserLock 1/2 and SecuROM 2.

- SafeDisc v2.x tests

For the SD2 test we used the "Max Payne"and "Serious Sam - The Second Encounter" game titles. We used the Plextor PX-208T both as reader/writer at maximum reading/recording speed. The produced backups were tested in the following drives.

Game Title
Tested Drives
Protection Build
Amplify Weak Sectors On
Amplify Weak Sectors Off
Max Payne
Creative 52X
v2.50.020
OK
NO
TEAC 40X
OK
NO
LiteOn 32123S
+ hide CDR media
OK
OK
Serious Sam - The Second Encounter
Creative 52X
v2.60.052
NO
NO
TEAC 40X
NO
NO
LiteOn 32123S
+ hide CDR media
OK
NO

The PX-208T cannot backup any SD2 protected discs without the need of the "Amplify Weak Sector" setting. The drive will back SD2 v2.50.020 build with "AWS" accurately. However the newer SD2 v2.50.021+ builds are not supported even with the "AWS" enabled.


9. RW Writing Tests

Plextor PX-208T combo CDRW/DVD - Page 9

RW Writing Tests

We used Nero 5.5.9.3 for writing CDs at the maximum RW speed for all the tested drives. The data we burned were 651MB. The Plextor PX-208T supports 8X re-writing while the Freecom Traveller II only 4X. As it was expected the Plextor PX-208T comes first with 592secs.

- Philips CD-RW Testdisc

Philips offers a CD-RW testdisc for verification of HS-RW recorders. The disc has an illegal subtype basically reserved for future HS-RW standards. When the drive fully supports ,and accurately, the Orange Book Part III Vol.1 (HS-RW), it should refuse writing in that disc. There will be a message such as "unusable disc" or "incompatible disc" or "format not recognized" e.t.c.

If the drive is writing on this disc, according to Philips, compatibility problems will possibly occur with this drive with future versions of high speed rewriting formats (Ultra HS-RW).

The testing procedure is quite simple. Insert the CD-RW test disc and try to burn upon it. Unfortunately, Plextor PX-208T wrote the disc at 4X, while it should't. Plextor can fix this in-compatibility with a newer firmware upgrade.

- Packet Writing Tests

We used Ahead InCD v3.31 for all Packet Writing tests with a Ricoh HS-RW media. The formatted disc had 534mbs of free space. We copied a 403 MB file (403.147 kbs) from a Hard Disk (on the same PC as the writers) to the formatted RW media using Windows Explorer (we dragged and dropped) and we completed the test twice to eliminate any possible time measurement faults and user errors:

Plextor PX-208T wrote the file to the formatted disc at 5.65X and read it back at 5.1X. Freecom traveller II is slower due to its lower (4X) RW writing speed.


10. Conclusion

Plextor PX-208T combo CDRW/DVD - Page 10

Conclusion

Positive (+)

Negative (-)

- Attractive design
- External combo DVD/CD-RW drive.
- Supports 8X DVD reading
- 2MB buffer & BURN-Proof
- Supports PoweREC media detection system
- Very good reading performance with pressed/CDR media
- Excellent DVD error correction and DVD playback
- Fast CloneCD reader compared to other external portable drives
- Very good writing quality
- Very good packet writing performance
- Can "handle" protected Audio discs

- Doesn't support overburning
- Locked DAE at 8X
- Cannot backup newer SD2 builds even with AWS enabled
- CD Error correction needs improvement
- Possible compatibility problems with future HS-RW formats
- Didn't recognize written 99min CD
- Didn't playback accurately DVD+RW media
- High price

Apart from the fact that an external portable drive is always welcomed from users who do not only use their office internal PC recorder for their daily needs, Plextor PX-208T additionally offers the chance to use one device for both CD writing/reading and DVD reading. The 8x8x24x8 drive does not offer less than its specifications promise.

The main advantages of the drive is the fast reading performance for the 24X category, even with protected data discs, the high writing quality, and the ability to read DVD-ROM and DVD recordable/rewritable media in adequate speeds. Plextor PX-208T is also fast reader/writer under the UDF format, can backup your favorite protected audio CDs without any problems, and seems to offer increased error correction capabilities in the DVD media reading. The drive showed an excellent behavior in the DVD error correction test since it did not give any read errors in the test with the artificially defect ABEX DVD test discs.

On the other hand, there are some issues that Plextor could possibly work on for a performance improvement. The lack of the overburning feature could be annoying for some users, as well as the locked 8X (max) DAE speed. The Philips CD-RW disc test left us some questions concerning the drive's compatibility with future HS-RW formats, and this is something that the Plextor engineers should improve.

In the error correction tests with the ABEX CD test discs, the PX-208T did not manage to give zero read errors, with the scratched media. Of course this does not mean that your drive will not read accurately your daily discs, since the ABEX CDs stresses the drives capabilities to the limits. Lastly, the drive had some issues with DVD+RW discs, while it read perfectly DVD-R/-RW and DVD+R media.

Plextor offers one year warranty and free tech support for the PX-208T, and the price of the drive is approximately $260. The price is high, but the overall performance and the excellent DVD performance worth the increased cost for those who need a good portable DVD reader and a CD-RW drive in the same package.



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