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This story was printed from CdrInfo.com,
located at http://www.cdrinfo.com.
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Appeared on: Friday, September 27, 2002
PleXWriter PX-W4824A


1. Introduction

PleXWriter PX-W4824A IDE CDR-W - Page 1

- Introduction

is the latest recorder from Plextor supporting the fastest available recording/re-writing speeds. Many other manufacturers have shipped drives supporting the same recording speed (48X), but without the same re-writing speeds. The only drive that can compete in the re-writing area is the YAMAHA F1 series, which however has lower maximum recording speeds (44X). Our review plans to examine whether the new Plextor drive is the "ultimate" recording machine, as many users expect, or not.

- Embedded Technologies

Most of the information is taken from Plextor's article "The Process of Writing(TPOW)".

- CAV Recording Technology

Plextor moved from Z-CLV to CAV with the PX-W4824 series. As Plextor says "...Until recently, Plextor opted for Z-CLV technology as the best compromise of quality over speed. The newest generations of components and technologies allow equal quality and performance to be achieved in CAV systems. CAV is the rotation scheme where the revolutions of the spindle motor (RPM) remain constant, independent of the position on the disc where the data is read. As a result, the data will appear faster at the Optical Pick-Up as the readout position is moved towards the outer radius of the disc..."

Plextor continues "…The greatest challenge of CAV recording lies in the fact that it is impossible to use a single write strategy and fixed laser power over the whole disc. Since the transfer speed constantly changes, this calls for a constantly changing write strategy and increasing laser power. In theory this would mean thousands of write strategies, which would make the database unrealistically large.

In Plextor recorders the database of write strategies for all CLV speeds per unique media has been expanded: every speed in the range from 20X up to 48X is covered in IX steps and all speeds have been assigned an optimised write strategy. Additionally the laser power is adjusted on every 1-minute address (position) increment on the disc. As such, the laser power will gradually grow as the rotation speed increases…"

- P-CAV Recording Technology

The PX-W4824A series not only support CAV but also P-CAV recording technology. At the outer position of the disc, more hardware limitations may force the drive to switch to a safer CLV mode in order to maintain a stable writing. Since only the first part of the disc is written in CAV, it is called Partial-CAV mode.

- PoweRec Technology

comes from Plextor Optimised Writing Error Reduction Control. As Plextor commends "…The most important challenge facing CD-Recorders is to write high-quality discs with perfect readability on all available CD-ROM drives. But not every media is suitable for recording at high speeds. For this reason, Plextor uses PoweRec that "guarantees" the highest possible recording speed and quality.

In start, PoweRec will identify and test the target disc and select an optimised write strategy for this media. Running OPC will overcome the variation in dye characteristics over the disc. Start writing at 20X from 00:00:00mins. The write strategy changes every 1X speed step while the laser power is adjusted every 1-minute position change. Besides this, PoweRec continuous monitoring of the write result will cause the drive to switch to CLV mode if the error signals exceed a certain threshold. In addition, simultaneously a thermistor-based circuit will adjust the Laser Power should the drive's internal temperature rise too much…"

Plextor offers the ability to disable PoweRec and write all media up to 48X recording speeds. However in this case, recording errors could occur causing un-readable CDs, with low quality media.

- VariRec Technology

comes from the "Variable Recording" words and allows the change of the laser power when writing CD-DA or CD-R at 4X. (TAO or DAO). Users are allowed to make slight adjustments to the default value (0). This will change the quality of the sound and will also increase the playability or compatibility (or in extreme cases in-compatibility) with the existing players. Plextor says that the default setting (0) already reflects to the optimised laser power with the lowest jitter.

- Black Tray & improved PCB

Plextor already used black tray in the PX-W4012A series that is also present in the new PX-W4824A series. As Plextor explains "...During recording a high-power laser beam is directed to the CD surface. This light is reflected by various objects: the mirror-like metal layer of the disc, but also the shiny metal screw heads, the slider bars, the metal body of the pick-up, the pick-up lens, and so on. This will cause a relative small but existing 'pollution' of reflected light.

When these reflections find their way back into the detection circuit of the pick-up, they can cause distortion of the original signal. Plextor has decided to use a black tray design in order to absorb as much as possible of these reflections. As this decreases the disturbance of the original reflected light, it will result in a better-defined signal and less C1 errors. This greatly improves the write quality..."

In addition, the PX-W4824A series include an optimised PCB (power circuit board) that reduces the overall power supply induced noise. This greatly improves the jitter and deviation levels of the drive and produces higher quality writing results.

- 48X Reading Speed

Lastly, in the new PX-W4824A series, Plextor has kept the rotation speed below 9000 RPM (40X CAV) in order to avoid noise problems and/or possible CD destruction. A "turbo" mode is available with the use of SpeedRead option that allows users to reach the 48X reading speed for stamped and recorded data CD's (only). User cannot use the "turbo" mode with AudioCDs (including mixed mode) and CD-RW media (RW, HS-RW and US-RW). As a final precaution, Plextor has redesigned and reinforced the tray and drive's bezel preventing any particles of an exploding disc escaping from the drive.

- Specifications

Using Nero Info Tool software, we can see the drive's properties/main features. The drive under the "normal" working mode supports 40X (CAV) reading speed. The firmware revision of the drive was 1.00 and as we can see the drive is "Mt. Rainier" ready:

After the SpeedRead function is activated (either from PlexTools or by pressing the eject button for more than 3secs) the drive supports 48X reading. You can disable the SpeedRead option again, by pushing the eject button or by cutting off the power supply. Plextor send a newer firmware revision (V1.01), after most tests had finished. However didn't fix anything of our negative issues. Hopefully future firmware upgrades will fine tuning the drive's performance:

Below we can see the available reading speeds, according to the inserted disc. The drive normally can read up to 40X (CAV), all Mode1, Mode2, AudioCD and CD-RW discs. The "SpeedRead" option affects only Mode1 discs.

PleXTools also gives other information about the drive such as the supported reading/writing modes and as you can see it reveals the lowest access time of the industry (<65ms)


2. Installation/Package

PleXWriter PX-W4824A IDE CDR-W - Page 2

- The package

We got the European retail package which contains: the drive, a PDF manual in 16 languages, an RMA request form, a registration card, a quick installation guide, 5 blank recordable discs (by TaiyoYuden), one 24X US-RW media (by Mitsubishi Chemicals), an IDE cable, an audio cable and mounting screws.

The attached CDR software comes from Ahead (Nero 5.5.x/InCD 3.3.x) and a separate CD with "PlexTools" v1.15. The drive has a 2-year guaranty (only valid in Europe, Middle-East and Africa) and Plextor's "on-site collect and return service" (EU countries + Norway and Switzerland). The retail package is expected to cost 140Euro. Plextor Europe also offers a special edition with black front bezel, in the same price. However USA buyers may buy the special black front bezel edition slight higher than the white version....

The front panel of the PleXWriter PX-W4824A is the same as the previous IDE models. You can see the "48/24/48", "BPRec" and the "Ultra Speed" logos. The codename of the PX-W4824A is PY-YORK.

The CD indicator lids to green when a CD is loaded, becomes yellow when while reading and orange while writing. The CD set window ruler indicator blinks to orange at different speeds, depending on the current write and re-writing speeds.

In the rear panel will find the power connector, the IDE cable connector, jumpers for setting up the MASTER/SLAVE/CABLE select status and finally, the analog/SPDIF connectors. There are also 2 jumpers that control the "DMA" status, in case you need to force the DMA working mode:

The drive was an August 2002 model with TLA#0000 hardware revision:

- Installation

Plextor PX-W4824A was installed as a Master in the primary IDE BUS. The drive worked in UDMA-33 model. After booting, it identified itself as a "PLEXTOR CD-R PX-W4824A". WinXP activated DMA without our interference. We used Nero v5.5.9.9, CloneCD v4.0.1.10 and Ahead InCD v3.37.1 for the recording tests.

User can de-activate PoweRec function under the drive properties. When you un-tick the "PoweRec enabled" box, a warning message comes up with information about the usability of this option.

PoweRec can also be disabled within the PlexTools software under the "drive settings":


3. Data Reading Tests
PleXWriter PX-W4824A IDE CDR-W- Page 3

Data Tests

- Notice: To create the graphs, we used both the default reading speed (40X) and the boost mode (48X) with the activation of the SpeedRead function.

- Pressed CD results: (Click to see the CD Speed Graph for 40X & 48X)

Despite its maximum 48X reading speed, the PX-W4824A couldn't reach the top since the ASUS 4816A and CyberDrive CW088D are faster. The drive's average reading performance was 35.66X at 48X and 31.5X at 40X reading speed.

Plextor has improved the seek times of the mechanism and the drive reached the impressive 63ms (40X speed) and 67ms (48X speed). The competition is slower, and the 89ms of the Asus drive is the second best result.

- CDR Media: (Click to see the CD Speed Graph for 40X & 48X)

The PX-W4824A performed slightly better with CD-R media, at least for the maximum 48X speed. The drive's reading speed was 35.71X, but still gets the third place since the competitor drives also increased their performance. For the 40X speed, the reading performance of the drive remains the same.

With CD-R media, the drive lowered more its seek times down to 62ms!

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

For checking the drive's performance with re-writeable media, we used the US-RW media that came with the retail package of each drive, recorded in the correspondent maximum supported speed. The PleXWriter PX-W4824A comes second after the YAMAHA CRW-F1E with 31.44X average speed.


4. Error Correction Tests
PleXWriter PX-W4824A IDE CDR-W- Page 4

Error Correction Tests

In the following tests we examine the reading error correction capabilities of the PleXWriter PX-W4824A.

- EAC CD-R Test Disc

- Introduction

We used the testing methodology as described in EAC website. The CD-R test disc includes 5 scratches and a black triangle defect. Using the "c2extract.exe" software and by setting the reading speeds with Nero Drive speed (max & 4X) we ripped the disc. The attached analyse.exe software used to get the necessary results.

The graph tells a lot about the abilities of the drive. The quality of the optical system (and/or of the error correction capabilities of the firmware) is shown in at which time index the error start. The error hiding qualities are shown when the wedge gets bigger.

The grid of the graph has the following means:

- Explanation

After the analyze finishes, we will get a detailed report about the various errors:

- Errors total tells about the total number of wrong stereo samples. This includes areas of wrong samples that may include some correct samples.

- Errors Loudness is the number of FFT analysis done. For that the average and maximum value tells the power difference of the two signals. No acoustic model is used for this calculation, so the audible error may differ from these values.

- Error Muting tells something about error hiding. On bad errors (or bad error hiding techniques), the last error free sample is held for some time until a new valid sample is found. The number of these mutings is given as first result, following the average and maximum sample length of these mutings.

- Skips are occurring when the sync was lost and the drive had to reposition again (and started on a slightly different position). Non-accurate stream devices would loose the sync very often and smaller and bigger skips occur (thus samples are missing or extraneous). The average and maximum values denote the length in samples of such skips.

- Total Score is calculated according to the previous errors. The higher score a drive gets the better!

- Test Results (4X Reading)

The PleXWriter PX-W4824A at 4X got a higher score than max speed. The main reason is that it corrected all the 5 scratches but could not correct the black triangle defect. In that area, the spikes reach the -4.5 dB (A). The drive gets a 70.5 score out of 100 (max).

Errors total
Num: 771492
Errors (Loudness) dB(A)
Num: 4892
Avg:-74.9 dB(A)
Max: -4.5
Error Muting Samples
Num: 1022
Avg: 2.5 Samples
Max: 27
Skips Samples
Num: 14
Avg: 6.0 Samples
Max: 6
Total Test Result
70.5 points (of 100.0 maximum)

- Test Results (Max Reading)

The PX-W4824A, at full speed, starts reporting errors at 16mins. The errors within the black triangle defect, reached -6.0 dB. The five scratches are not repaired as in the 4X reading speed test. The drive gets a score of 69.8, out of 100 (max).

Errors total
Num: 1238512
Errors (Loudness) dB(A)
Num: 8034
Avg: -74.4 dB(A)
Max: -6.0
Error Muting Samples
Num: 1026
Avg: 1.8 Samples
Max: 93
Skips Samples
Num: 11
Avg: 9.8 Samples
Max:48
Total Test Result
69.8 points (of 100.0 maximum)

- ABEX TCD-721R

- Introduction

This test disc includes artificial scratches with lengths from 1.8 mm to 3.0 mm.

Using the ABEX TCD-714 as the reference disc, we created the reference.wav file that is needed for the comparison. Using the c2 extract software and by setting the reading speeds with Nero Drive speed (max & 4X) we ripped the disc. The attached analyse.exe software gave the comparison results. The drive under the 4X reading speed mode, refused to end the task since aborted at 50%. Therefore only the max speed result is showed.

- Test Results (Max speed)

At the maximum reading speed, the drive got a score of 68.1.

Errors total
Num: 14642824
Errors (Loudness) dB(A)
Num: 48717
Avg: -68.6 dB(A)
Max: -9.4
Error Muting Samples
Num: 60753
Avg: 2.4 Samples
Max: 279
Skips Samples
Num: 2
Avg: 6.0 Samples
Max: 6
Total Test Result
68.1 points (of 100.0 maximum)

- ABEX TCD-726

- Introduction

The ABEX TCD-726 includes three kinds of defects, interruption, black dots and fingerprints. 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 and the fingerprints range from 65 to 75 micro meters.

- Test Results (4X Speed)

At 4X reading speed, the drive showed a very good behaviour. The only two spikes gave the drive a score of 80.9 out of 100 (max).

Errors total
Num: 368
Errors (Loudness) dB(A)
Num: 15
Avg:-76.4 dB(A)
Max: -23.7
Error Muting Samples
Num: 0
Avg: 0.0 Samples
Max: 0
Skips Samples
Num: 1
Avg: 408.0 Samples
Max: 408
Total Test Result
80.9 points (of 100.0 maximum)

- Test Results (Max Speed)

At the maximum reading speed, errors occurred at the same positions as in the 4X reading speed test. However the drive now gets a higher score of 81.5 out of 100 (max), since the average loudness reaches -72.5dB compared to the -76.4dB in the 4X reading speed.

Errors total
Num: 312
Errors (Loudness) dB(A)
Num: 9
Avg:-72.5 dB(A)
Max: -23.7
Error Muting Samples
Num: 0
Avg: 0.0 Samples
Max: 0
Skips Samples
Num: 1
Avg: 408.0 Samples
Max: 408
Total Test Result
81.5 points (of 100.0 maximum)

- Conclusion

Test Disc
Reading Speed
Score
EAC CD-R
4X
70.5
Max
69.8
ABEX TCD-721R
4X
Not completed!
Max
68.1
ABEX TCD-726
4X
80.9
Max
81.5
Average Score
74.16

The PleXWriter PX-W4824A gets an average 74.16 score out of 100 at our reading error correction tests.

- C2 Information accuracy

- Introduction

The Advanced DAE Error Correction tests are available in the latest version of Nero CD Speed. With the A-BEX TCD-721R disc, we can test the drive's C2 error information accuracy. First we created the image with the A-BEX TCD-714 test disc. Then we tested with the Advanced DAE Error Correction test, the C2 error information accuracy. According to the CD Speed author, the C2 accuracy should be very high (99%) to be useful. The "Quality" test score table is shown below:

- Test Results (MAX Speed)

The PX-W4824A drive got an 83.12% score (out of 100% max) for the C2 accuracy and 66.6 score for the overall reading error correction capabilities with the A-BEX TCD-721R test disc. The 83% score is actually very bad because means that the PX-W4824A misses almost 1 out of 5 errors! In other words you will not get good results with software which depends on C2 error information, like CD-R media quality scanners or DAE ripping software like EAC.


5. CloneCD Reading Tests

PleXWriter PX-W482A IDE CDR-W- Page 5

CloneCD Reading Tests

- Procedure

We used CloneCD (v4.0.1.10) 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 times of the drive. 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 PX-W4824A needs 72secs to finish the task getting the second position, below ASUS 4816A.

- SafeDisc v.2 Results

The PX-W4824A gets the third position, below the Yamaha and ASUS drives.

- LaserLock v.2 Results

With the pressed disc, the PX-W4824A needs 45mins. The performance with the backup disc is much higher.

- SecuROM v.2 Results

All drives can read SubChannel data from Data/Audio tracks. The PX-W4824A has improved the reading speed of Subchannel data, compared with the previous PX-W4012A series, but still cannot reach the top.


6. DAE Tests

PleXWriter PX-W4824A IDE CDR-W - Page 6

DAE Tests

- DAE features

- Pressed AudioCD

The PX-W4824A had an average DAE ripping performance and gets the last place with 30X. The YAMAHA CRW-F1E is slightly faster, due to increased 44X reading speed, while the ASUS and CyberDrive drives share the first two positions.

- AudioCD-R media

With CD-R media, the PX-W4824A has somewhat lower performance than with pressed media. The drive is the slowest with 29.9X.

- 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 built-in detection function:

Tested Drives
Average DAE Speed (X)
Pressed
CDR
YAMAHA CRW-F1
7.2
7.3
PleXWriter PX-W4824A
10.6
10.5

- Advanced DAE Quality

The drive got a 100 score (best) in the Nero CD Speed Advanced DAE test. The average speed for PleXWriter was 29.86X. The drive can also read data from Lead-in, CD-text and SubChannel.

- 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 (%)
PleXWriter PX-W4824A
22.3
27041048
35.74

The PleXWriter PX-W4824A finished the test which a high error rate of 35.74%. Judging from the average reading speed, we can see that the drive didn't reduce its reading speed in the problematic disc areas, producing a high error rate.

- Ripping 90 and 99mins AudioCDs

 
Tested drives
Ripping up to
PleXWriter PX-W4824A
The drive has problems reading 99min written discs.

- 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
PleXWriter PX-W4824A
Rips entire disc without problems

With the Manual TOC option, it detects all tracks, but cannot rip above the 9th track. All tracks from 1st-9th contain errors when ripping with EAC's Burst mode.

With PlexTools it can rip all tracks but again errors are reported...

The drive can handle Key2Audio protected audio discs without any issues, while seems to have glitches with CDS200 discs, at least with EAC software. Using PlexTools software the CDS200 problem can be overpassed, but PlexTools reported errors after the end of the process, so user is advised to use the very good error correction capabilities of PlexTools....


7. CDR Tests

PleXWriter PX-W4824A IDE CDR-W - Page 7

CDR Tests

PleXWriter PX-W4824A offers a variety of recording speeds from 4X up to 48X, using the CLV, P-CAV or CAV recording technologies. The drive's various writing speeds and recording technologies are shown in the following screen.

Under the Nero software, user is able to select all recording speeds, regardless of the PoweRec setting. AudioCD authoring also permitted up to 48X.

After the recording starts, you cannot see the actual recording speed, unless you have activated a hidden Nero's feature ;-).

- Checking maximum recording speed

After inserting a CD-R media, user can see which recording speed has been automatically selected by the PoweRec system in two ways:

a) through Nero. Under the drive's properties un-tick the "PoweRec Enabled" option and Nero will show the recommended writing speed of the disc. Of course it would be much easier to see that under the Writing tab where we select the writing speed...

b) through PlexTools. If you try to disable PoweRec function, PleXTools will prompt about this and will also indicate the maximum permitted recording speed. PleXTools "PoweRec Disable" function can be also used in cases you use other software that doesn't support disabling PoweRec function.

Important: While performing the tests, we noticed that if the data size were higher than the disc capacity (meaning that you will overburn), recording would be performed at the locked 24X (P-CAV) writing speed.

Plextor explains: "....With a new firmware upgrade, we plan to tackle the issue of overburning speed. When stressing the media beyond the standards, will result in unexpected behavior and bad results. Media that allows recording above 80 minutes is not yet standarised and our tests indicate increased errors at high speed recording in this area. But time pressure forced us to come up with a solution in regards to such media. The current strategy to limit all overburning to 24X may be considered too robust at this moment, but we have been working on it and a new strategy is already developed. It will be implemented in firmware later on and it will relieve the speed limit for overburning media with <80 mins capacity..."

The following screen shows the overburning effect. Even 48X recording speed selected with the proper media, the recording time indicates 24X writing speed:

- Full CAV recording method

Using an 80min disc, we can see the drive's starting and ending recording speeds, according to the Nero CD Speed software. The drive starts writing at 21.47X and gradually reaches 48X at the end of an 80min disc. With some discs, we experienced maximum recording speeds of 49.11X (!), however the average theoretical recording speed in all cases remained the same (36.79X):

- Recording Tests

As we explained earlier, we wrote slightly lower amount of data than in our usual tests (80:01:26), since else the drive will write at 24X. At the maximum recording speed, the drive finished the test at 167sec getting the third place, below CyberDrive CW088D and ASUS 4816A.

The above graph shows the recording performance of the drive at its various recording speeds between 16X (CLV) and:

It is also very interesting to note that the 40X (P-CAV) and 48X (CAV) recording speeds have only 4secs difference!

Below is the screenshot of the best recording result with PoweRec disabled. When PoweRec was enabled the lowest recording time was one second higher (2:48mins).

- Overburning Tests

The drive can overburn up to 94mins without any problems.

- CD-Text Results

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

- CloneCD Writing Tests

The CloneCD software reports that the drive supports the DAO-RAW feature. With the use of proper media, DAO-RAW writing can be performed up to 48X (CAV). CloneCD doesn't offer any option to disable PoweRec, but PleXTools can be used for that propose.

For checking the drive's EFM correction status, we used 2 different game titles with various SafeDisc 2 versions. For getting the maximum of them, we used the latest software patches. We used the PX-W4824A both as reader/writer at maximum reading/recording speed. We burned two discs for each game (Amplify Weak Sectors On/Off) and the results are posted in the below table:

Game Title
Tested Drive
SD2 Build
Amplify Weak Sectors On
Amplify Weak Sectors Off
Max Payne v1.05
Creative 52X CD-ROM
v.2.50.020
OK
OK
TEAC 40X CD-ROM
OK
OK
LiteOn LTR-32123S
+ Hide CDR
OK
OK
Serious Sam - The Second Encounter v1.07
Creative 52X CD-ROM
v.2.60.052
NO
NO
TEAC 40X CD-ROM
NO
NO
LiteOn LTR-32123S
+ Hide CDR
OK
OK

As the test results showed, the PX-W4824A drive can backup up to SD2 v2.50.020 version without the need of Amplify Weak Sectors. However with the latest v2.51.021+ builds it will not produce 100% correct playback disc. The backup (either with AWS on/off) worked only in the LiteOn LTR-32123S recorder (with Hide CD-R activated), in the drive itself & in the YAMAHA CRW-F1 series. However will not work in normal readers..


8. Writing Quality Tests

PleXWriter PX-W4824A IDE CDR-W - Page 8

Writing Quality Tests

We used various media and burn them at the maximum writing speed of 48X, either with PoweRec on/off. Using Nero's (and PlexTools) feature, we recognized which media are permitted by the PoweRec system to be written at the 48X speed. For those media we burned discs either with PoweRec on/off, while for the rest only with PoweRec off. The main idea is to see how the drive performs either with good or with lower quality media. Plextor USA has published a media list over here. A bigger list with recommended and compatible media can be found at Plextor's Japan website. Lastly, Plextor Europe recently added a large list with supported CD-R and CD-RW media.

From our test results the following media can be written at:

- 48X speed (with PoweRec On):

- 32X speed (with PoweRec On):

The writing quality scores are illustrated in the following table:

Brand
PoweRec Status
C1 Errors
Average Burning Time (mins)
Comments
Max
Average
SanyoDigital 80min 24x
Off
44
5.3
2:48
SKC 80min 24X
Off
18
2.9
2:49
FujiFilm 80min 40X
Off
16
0.7
2:58
Mitsubishi Chemicals
80min 48X
On
14
0.6
2:48
Off
16
0.4
2:49
Mitsui 80min 40X
On
21
0.6
3:00
Off
25
0.8
2:56
Ciba Plasmon 80min 48X
On
59
2.7
2:47
Off
21
1.2
2:48
Prodisc 80min 40X
On
34
1.9
2:54
Off
144
1.6
2:49
C2 errors at the end of the disc
CyberDrive 80min 48X
On
61
5.7
2:50
Off
48
3.5
2:49
Hitachi-Maxell 80min 40X
On
23
1.2
2:50
Off
18
1.8
2:49
Prodisc 80min 16X
On
118
5.6
3:11
Off
78
8.0
2:48
Plextor 80min 48X
On
15
0.7
2:48
Off
18
0.5
2:48
Maxell 80min 32X
Off
23
2.3
2:50
Taiyo Yuden 80min 32X
Off
101
1.2
2:50
C2 errors at 10mins
Imation 80min 32X
Off
65
5.5
2:59
Octron 80min 24X
Off
41
4.4
3:02

The writing quality of the PX-W4824A was very good with many tested media from various manufacturers. The best results came from Mitsubishi Chemicals 48X certified media. The Plextor 48X media (by TaiyoYuden) performed very well, while the lowest time came from Ciba Plasmon 48X media (PoweRec off). Disabling "PoweRec" will permit 48X writing speed with most of the media with acceptable writing quality, but in some cases also with C2 errors. Make your own tests and decide if the inserted media can written at 48X with PoweRec disabled.

- C1 Error rate from Prodisc 80min 16X @ 48X (PoweRec Off)

- C1/C2 Error rate from Prodisc 80min 40X @ 48X (PoweRec Off)

- C1/C2 Error rate from TaiyoYudenc 80min 32X @ 48X (PoweRec Off)

In the following table you can see the manufacturing details of the media we used for our tests.

Name
Real Manufacturer
ID Code
Capacity
Mitsubishi Chemicals 80min 48x
Mitsubishi Chemicals
97m34s23f
79:59.73
Prodisc 80min 32x
Prodisc
97m32s19f
79:59.74
Hitachi-Maxell 80min 40x
Hitachi Maxell
97m25s29f
79:59.74
Emtec 80min 24x
Unknown
97m25s07f
79:59.00
SanyoDigital 80min 24x
Plasmon
97m27s19f
79:59.74
Octron 80min 24x
Ritek
97m15s17f
79:59.73
Mitsui 80min 40X
Mitsui
97m27s58f
79:59.74
CyberDrive 80min 48X
Ritek
97m15s17f
79:59.70
Maxell 80min 32X
Taiyo Yuden
97m24s01f
79:59.73
FujiFilm 80min 40X
Fuji
97m26s45f
79:59.73
Mitsubishi Chemicals 80min 40x
Mitsubishi Chemicals
97m34s23f
79:59.74
Taiyo Yuden 80min 32X
Taiyo Yuden
97m24s01f
79:59.73
Ciba Plasmon 80min 48X
Plasmon
97m27s18f
79:59.74
CyberDrive 80min 48X
Prodisc
97m32s19f
79:59.72
Imation 80min 32X
CMC Mangetics
97m26s66f
79:59:74
Plextor 80min 48X
Taiyo Yuden
97m24s01f
79:59.72


9. RW/Packet Writing Tests

PleXWriter PX-W4824A IDE CDR-W - Page 10

RW Writing Tests

- Introduction

The PX-W4824A is the second drive, after Yamaha F1 series, which supports 24X writing with the use of the new Ultra speed re-writing media. Below are displayed all three available re-writing standards (there is a new logo for US-RW enabled drives):

With US-RW media, the PX-W4824A can write at 24X (P-CAV), while with HS-RW at 10X (CLV). Compared with the PX-W4012A we see a difference, since now 12X re-writing is not supported under the HS-RW format. With US-RW media, the PX-W4824A drive starts writing at 21.46X and reaches 24.00X at 6mins. The average theoretical re-writing speed is 23.91X, almost 24X CLV ;-)

- Test Results

Let's now compare the drive with the competition. The YAMAHA CRW-F1E (OWSC On) was faster than PX-W4824A (PoweRec On) by 3secs. Of course if user decides to disable the PoweRec function, the PX-W4824A takes the first place. The rest two drives from ASUS and CyberDrive cannot compete since they support the 16X re-writing speed.

Using Nero, we saw two different performances, with PoweRec enabled/disabled.

or with PoweRec disabled:

The PoweRec function does affect the re-writing speed of the drive. When was enabled, the drive finished at 3:44mins, while when was disabled at 3:21mins. That's a full 23secs difference!!

Important: We had burned two Mitsubishi Chemicals 24X US-RW certified media with the YAMAHA CRW-F1E drive. While the PX-W4824A could read them perfectly, it couldn't either erase them (quick, full) or even write upon them. In all cases we had "Power Calibration Errors" displayed with Nero software.

- Packet Writing Tests

- Introduction

We used Ahead InCD v3.37.1 for the packet writing tests with the 24X US-RW media.

The formatted disc had 534 MB 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

- Test Results

The PX-4824A gets the second place at the writing/reading tests behind YAMAHA CRW-F1E drive (recording) and CyberDrive CW088D (in the reading test). With 4-10X HS-RW media, the drive had a 7.43X average writing and a 17.35X average reading speed.


10. Mt. Rainier Tests

PleXWriter PX-W4824A IDE CDR-W - Page 10

Mt. Rainier Tests

- InCD Tests

For testing the Mt. Rainier performance of PleXWriter PX-W4824A, we used was InCD v3.37.1 by Ahead Software. After the format process, we immediately started the recording process (drag & drop). When the drive finished, we started the reading process back to the HD.

Drive
Average Writing Speed (X)
Average Reading Speed (X)
YAMAHA
CRW-F1DX
12X HS-RW
7.08
20.31
24X US-RW
12.7
20.89
PleXWriter PX-W4824A
10X HS-RW
6.36
16.60
24X US-RW
12.80
16.13

- EasyWrite tests

- Introduction

The Philips Easy Write tests checks the quality level of the implementation of Mt Rainier feature. The PleXWriter PX-W4824A did accept the EasyWrite test suite commands so we had the chance to test its performance. We didn't test the drives with defect media since it failed to complete the tests with normal HS-RW media.

Plextor said that: "...A new firmware will address the issues that arose after the Mount Rainier plugfest. Easy Write support is planned for later this year. We also plan to transport our achievements to our previous model, PX-W4012TA, in due time..."

- Basic Command Test Results

Below are the test results using MRW PartA v1.60 validation script.

Tests
PleXWriter PX-W4824A
Mandatory Startup Basic Command Set
MRW Feature
Passed
SMART Feature
Supported Profiles
Mode Sense Pages
Background Format
Minimal Blank
Check Format Capacity for Mode 24 Hex
Format Unit
Read Disc Information
Check Write Mode Page
Set Write Mode Page Parameters
Test GAA Addressing
Set GAA Area Addressing
Write Data Outside GAA Area
FAILED : Write10 Command : Succeeded (Should have Failed) (Sense Code 00/00/00)
Write Data Inside GAA Area
Severe Error : No Further Tests Performed !
Synchronize Cache
Read Data Inside GAA Area
Verify Data Inside GAA Area
Set DMA Area Addressing
Read/Write in Ice
Read Track Info
Write in Iced Area (Address = 128205 - Blocks = 236)
Synchronize Cache
Read & Verify Iced Area (Address = 128205 - Blocks = 236)
Early Eject
Eject Disc with Background Format in Progress
Close Track/Session
Eject Disc
Script Validation Time
00 Hours 01 Minutes 13 Seconds 296 MSec

The PleXWriter PX-W4824A failed to pass the "Basic Command Test".

- Light/Heavy Rock'N'Roll Tests

Below are the test results using the Light & Heavy Rock'N'Roll validation scripts. Again the PX-W4824A failed to pass both Light & Heavy Rock'N'Roll scripts.

Tests
PleXWriter PX-W4824A
Light R&R
FE
Light R&R Test Duration
0 Hours 01 Minutes 08 Seconds 107 MSec
Heavy R&R
FE
Heavy R&R Test Duration
0 Hours 01 Minutes 20 Seconds 976 MSec

Remarks:
Time: hours:mins:secs:msecs
FE = Fatal Error


11. Conclusion

PleXWriter PX-W4824A IDE CDR-W - Page 11

Conclusion

Positive (+)

Negative (-)

- 48X writing permitted for Audio authoring
- Satisfactory supported media list for the 48X writing speed
- Lowest seek time of the industry (<65ms)
- Very good "Writing quality"
- Average error correction capabilities
- "PoweRec" technology can be de-activated
- "VariRec" recording mode
- Good DAE ripping speed
- Fair CloneCD reading performance
- SD2 v2.51.021+ backups will work in many CD-RW drives
- Can "handle" protected Audio discs
- Supports CD-Text (read/write) and overburning (up to 95mins)
- Supports Ultra-DMA 33 connection interface
- Complete retail package (Nero 5.5x, 5 pieces of 48x CDR media and PlexTools)
- European retail package offers 2 years of warranty

- Mt. Rainier implementation needs improvement
- Disabling "PoweRec" may cause C2 errors. Test it first!
- SD2 v2.51.021+ backups will not work with most CD/DVD-ROMS
- Some glitches with written US-RW media
- Cannot recognise 99min discs
- C2 error information is supported but with low accuracy

For sure the PX-W4824A was one of the most awaited drives since the adoption of CAV recording technology would enable higher writing speeds and lower recording times. Plextor has added several other features, like the lowest seek times of the industry (<65ms), Mt. Rainier support and the option to de-activate "PoweRec" quality media detection system, enabling writing at full speed for all inserted CD-R media.

One of the main strong points of the PleXWriter PX-W4824A was its very good writing quality either with PoweRec enabled/disabled. Most of the produced CDs had a very low C1 error rate. The supported media list for the 48X (CAV) recording speed is satisfactory and newer firmware plan to support even more as Plextor promised. In case PoweRec is enabled, the drive will automatically select the best writing speed protecting user from writing errors. Disabling the "PoweRec" function will normally produce good discs, with few exceptions.

At the Audio part, the drive can write AudioCDs up to 48X, can read protected Audio discs (with the proper software), offers "VariRec" for higher AudioCD authoring and of course can write CD-Text. The DAE ripping speeds were average below the competition. The reading is very quiet and Plextor offers the ability to force the reading at 48X (by disabling SpeedRead) - only for Mode1 CD-R and pressed discs.

In the negative points, the drive couldn't manage to get the first place in many tests, the Mt. Rainier implementation needs improvement and backups of SD2 v2.51.021+ discs will work only in many CD-RW and not CD-ROM drives. In addition 99min written discs are not recongized, we had some problems with already written 24X US-RW media and even C2 error information is supported, its accuracy is low.

The PleXWriter PX-W4824A despite its various negatives is a very good choice for users who wish un-problematic burning, at the maximum speed with the highest recording quality. The retail package is excellent with Nero 5.5x, 5 pieces of CD-R media and the exclusive "PlexTools" software that boosts even further the drive's capabilities. The European retail package is expected around 140 Euros (maybe even lower).

Future firmware upgrades may fix some of the negatives, making the drive even better. The PX-W4824A gets our "Safe Buy Award" for its performance/price ratio.



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