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Appeared on: Wednesday, September 17, 2003
Plextor PX-708A


1. Features - Installation

Plextor PX-708A dual DVD±RW recorder - Page 1

 

Constant increases in the capacity of the offered models, combined with higher transfer rates and enhanced reliability, are probably those factors that mainly characterize the progress of technology in the storage area. Taking into account this, we might easily conclude that the technology underlying magnetic storage media (such as hard disks) has overcome the corresponding progress in the optical storage area. However, optimistic announcements for fast optical storage solutions based on high frequency laser technologies (i.e., Blue laser, Blu-Ray) promise spectacular storage capabilities, although pricing will be probably prohibitive for the average-user, at least at the early stages of their introduction.

Red laser DVD recording has already gone mainstream and will probably stay on the scene for at least a couple of years more. Apart from the issue of one DVD recording format dominating over another, the highest currently offered recording speed is definitely of a primary interest to most end users. BenQ / Philips, Pioneer, NEC and other manufacturers have announced their upcoming 8x DVD recorders. However, it is Plextor who is the first to make this aggressive step forward by launching this fall the PX-708A, the first 8x DVD+R recorder in the market.

The successor of the PX-504A model is a dual DVD writer, capable of 8x writing for DVD+R, 4x for DVD+RW/-R, and 2x for DVD-RW. In addition, the drive is also a fast 40/24/40 CD-RW writer.

- Features

Most of the Plextor users already know the VariRec feature, which can be applied during the creation of audio CD-R discs. The user can select some settings during recording preparation in order to obtain a more personalized sound tone. The feature is fully controlled within the PlexTools software, available in the Plextor retail package, and works at 4x and 8x CD-DA recordings. Nero and other programs support this feature as well.

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

Plextor PX-708A also supports buffer underrun errors for both CD/DVD media.

Of course, the most awaited feature of the new Plextor PX-708A is the supported higher reading / writing speeds. The new drive offers 8x DVD+R (6-8x Z-CLV) recording, the highest DVD recording speed available today. It also writes DVD-R and DVD+RW at 4x CLV. DVD-RW writing is kept at a 2x maximum, and DVD-ROM reading can be done at 12x CAV.

This drive has also very impressive capabilities when viewed as a CD-RW recorder, offering 40 / 24 / 40 speeds.

- Specifications
Interface:
E-IDE/ATAPI (Ultra DMA Mode 2)
Writing Speed:

DVD+R: 8X / -R: 4X, DVD+RW: 4X, DVD-RW: 2X

CD-R: 40X, CD-RW: 24X
Read Speed:

DVD+R/-R/+RW/-RW: 8X

DVD-ROM: 12X, CD-R/RW: 40X
Random Access:
DVD: 150msec, CD: 100msec
Buffer Size:
2MB
Supported Disc Formats:
DVD: DVD-ROM, DVD Video, Multi Border (closed disc read only), Multi-session, DVD+VR, DVD-VR (Read only)
CD-R/RW: CD-DA, CD-Extra, CD-ROM Mode 1, CD-ROM Mode 2, CD-ROM XA, Photo CD, Video CD, CD-I, Multi-session, CD-Text, UDF, CD+G
Supported Writing Types:

DVD+R/+RW: Sequential write, Random access write, Multi-session and DVD+MRW (Mt. Rainier)

DVD-R/ -RW: Disc-at-once, Incremental recording, Multi-border recording, Restricted overwriting
CD-R/RW: Track-at-once, Disc-at-once, Session-at-once, Multi-session, Fixed and Variable Packet Writing, CD-MRW (Mt. Rainier)

Apart from the specifications mentioned above, Plextor PX-708A supports Mount Rainier for CD-R/RW and DVD+R/+RW (DVD+MRW).

Plextor PX-708A uses the RPC II region control, allowing a user to change the drive's region at most 5 times. For our tests, we set the region code to 2 (Europe).

Below you can see all the available CD reading speeds, according to the data type of a disc. The maximum reading speed for CD-R/RW and audioCD is 40x CAV:

The maximum CD writing speed for CD-R is 40x P-CAV and 24x P-CAV, when using Ultra Speed CD-RW media:

Single layer DVD-ROM media can be read at 12x CAV, while DVD±R/RW discs can be read at 8x CAV. As PlexTools report, DVD-Video will be played at 2x CLV to avoid noise and vibration.

Below are illustrated all the available writing speeds for DVD and the various supported media types:

- European Retail package

The European retail package includes the Plextor PX-708A IDE drive, one E-IDE cable, a quick install guide, an RMA form and a warranty card. As for all the Plextor drives, the PX-708A offers a 2-year warranty for Europe, Middle-East and Africa.

The bundled CD/DVD mastering software comes from Ahead , and includes Nero Burning Rom and Nero InCD for packet writing. PowerDVD by CyberLink is the included DVD player software, and Pinnacle Studio 8 SE is available for video editing / authoring.

The second CD-ROM available in the package contains PlexTools Professional CD/DVD utility software and a detailed manual in several languages.

Let's take a look at the drive. The white front bezel with the black horizontal line resembles to the first Plextor DVD+R/+RW writer, the PX-504A. The identity of the drive is denoted with the "PX-708A" logo at the right side of the loading tray. According to Plextor, the black tray used reduces the optical distortion of the laser beam, while reading/writing. In addition to the DVD+RW logo, the DVD-Rewritable and CD-RW Ultra Speed labels, reveal the multiple capabilities of the drive.

The stereo mini jack for headphones or powered speakers allows you to listen audioCDs. in this case, the volume can be adjusted by the volume control. Last, a busy indicator lights up green when the device is active and yellow when reading / accessing a disc.

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

Removing the screws and opening the drive's cover voids the drive's warranty. For reference reasons, we post the following pictures. You can click on the mainboard picture for a higher resolution image:

Click for Higher Resolution!

The basic chipset series might be familiar to some experienced users from the Optorite DD0203 (Sanyo BPDV2) dual recorder.

- Installation

The Plextor PX-708A was connected to our test PC and was identified as "PLEXTOR DVDR PX-708A" under WinXP. All tests were done with firmware revision v1.01.

Although our database does not include the benchmarks of any other 8x DVD writers, in the following pages we include, for comparison reasons, the results of some other dual DVD writers, the Optorite DD0203 and the Pioneer DVR-A06.


2. CD Reading Tests

Plextor PX-708A dual DVD±RW recorder - Page 2

CD Reading Tests

- Pressed CD results

The above transfer rate graph on a 80min pressed data disc reveals the 40x CAV reading strategy. Reading started at 18.60x and finished at 42.88x.

In the same task, the seek times are rather low and keep up with the drive's specifications for CD's (<100 msec).

The random seek test gave a result of 84 msec. The 1/3 mode seeking was, as expected, higher, at 106 msec, and the full seek gave an average of 155 milliseconds.

- CDR Media results

Regarding the reading performance of the drive, it showed us the same good behavior as in the previous test on the pressed data disc. Once more, the drive reached 42.84x speed in the outer parts of the disc. The average reading speed was 32.29x.

The seek times were also low, and 162 msec were required for the full seek test.

 

- ReWritable Media

Plextor PX-708A supports the 40x CAV reading speed when using rewritable media. For the reading test we used 24x Ultra Speed rewritable media by Mitsubishi Chemicals.

The performance was not much different than the one we had with CD-R media. The drive read the disc at 18x~41.60x CAV and the average reading speed was 41.60x.

The seek times were also adequate, with only 88msec for the random seek and 162msec for the full stroke test. Below you can see the CDSpeed transfer graph:


3. CD Error Correction Tests

Plextor PX-708A dual DVD±RW recorder - Page 3

Error Correction Tests

In the following tests we check the drive's behavior when it comes to reading scratched / defected discs. The test discs we use are the ABEX series from ALMEDIO.

- ABEX TCD-721R

Errors total
Num: 1077734
Errors (Loudness) dB(A)
Num: 52559
Avg: -73.4 dB(A)
Max: -18.2 dB(A)
Error Muting Samples
Num: 4504
Avg: 1.0 Samples
Max: 17 Samples
Skips Samples
Num: 2
Avg: 6.0 Samples
Max: 6 Samples
Total Test Result
71.4 points (out of 100.0 maximum)

Plextor PX-708A performed very well with the ABEX TCD-721R. As you can see from the graph, the majority of the red spikes (error level) reach the -60dB(A) only, and the total average level is -73.4dB(A). Although these errors have nothing to do with any acoustical model, EAC author notes that Error Loudness less than -60dB(A) most often do not produce audible problems to your speakers. However, specific high peaks on the graph (max -18.2 dB(A)) could create some problems, but generally the performance is high considering the severity of the errors on the disc.

The total score for Plextor PX-708A is very good and reaches 71.4 points out of 100.

- 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)

In this test. the drive ripped the contents of the ABEX TCD-726 disc at full speed, ignoring all the defected areas on its surface. Comparing the original .wav file (not defected source) with the produced one (after ripping the defected disc) gave no differences, which means that the drive mostly managed to rip the defected disc contents accurately. The score for this performance cannot be different than the absolute score of 100.

- 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 difficult tests. These tracks are referred as Check Level-1 through Check Level-5.

The files are reproduced (played) through a software multimedia player (i.e. Windows Media Player). Each level is considered as passed, if the tone coming out from the speakers is smooth, continuous without interruptions, skipping or looping. The higher the Check Level passed, the more reliable the sound reproduction of the tested device.

Error Level
1
2
3
4
5
Plextor PX-708A
5/5
5/5
5/5
5/5
0/5

Plextor PX-708A passed the first 4 Check Levels of the test. The performance reveals very good sound reproduction and error correction. The fifth level includes an error size of 1.500mm, and the drive gave back audible clicks.

- Conclusion

Test Disc
Reading Speed
Score
ABEX TCD-721R
Max
71.4
ABEX TCD-726
100
Average Score
85.7

Combining the two scores from the tests we estimate an average total score of 85.7 points out of 100. This is the best score we have ever experienced from a drive. Plextor PX-708A managed to read severely scratched discs with a high accuracy. This is of major importance for users interested in the reliable reproduction of discs , and this drive seems to outperform most other drives on the market today, including some CD-RW recorders.


4. DVD Reading Tests

Plextor PX-708A dual DVD±RW recorder - Page 4

DVD reading tests

In the following charts we also include the results of two other DVD writers that support 12x CAV DVD-ROM reading. These are Pioneer DVR-A06 and Optorite DD0203.

- Single Layer PTP DVD-ROM (Click for CDSpeed results)

Plextor PX-708A started the reading task at 4.99x and finished at 12.15x, resulting to an average reading speed of 9.09x. In the same task, the Optorite drive was slower at 8.81x, and the Pioneer DVR-A06 is the faster reader in this test achieving 9.52x.

Plextor PX-708A performed well in the seek tests with DVD-ROM discs. The drive was very fast in the random and 1/3 reading tests, attaining times around to 100 msec, while it was slower in the full mode with 190 msec. The Optorite DD0203 drive gave approximately the same results, while the Pioneer DVR-A06 is slower, especially in the full seek mode.

- Dual Layer PTP DVD-ROM (Click for CDSpeed results)

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

Plextor PX-708A limits the reading speed to 8x with dual layer DVD-ROM discs. The reading speed in the beginning of the disc was 3.38X and the ending speed was 8.01X. The drive used the CAV reading strategy, as you can see in the CDSpeed test link.

In the same task, the Pioneer A06 was slightly faster with a 6.16x average reading speed. The Optorite drive is the slowest reader since it supports only 4.5x CAV reading.

In addition, the seek test gave the Plextor drive the lowest seek times among the rest drives:

- Dual Layer OTP DVD-ROM

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 of 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 toward the inner part of the disc.

The transfer rate graph is smooth and each layer was read at 3.37x~8x CAV.

- DVD Ripping Tests

We measured the DVD ripping speed of Plextor PX-708A using the DVD Decrypter software. The DVD Video title is the "Matrix" pressed DVD.

Plextor PX-708A supports by default 2x DVD Video reading, in order to avoid noise and vibration. The drive ripped the DVD movie files to the hard disk at 2,707 KB/sec, and the Pioneer drive performed in a similar way. Optorite DD0203 is faster in this test with 5,846 KB/sec.

However, pressing the eject button for 3 seconds (no disc inserted) will enable DVD ripping at higher speeds. In this case, the average ripping speed for the same movie reached the 8,957KB/sec (6.5X).

- DVD Recordable / Rewritable reading Tests

The chart below shows the Nero CDSpeed results with the following media:

Plextor PX-708A supports 8x CAV reading for the DVD±R/RW formats. The CDSpeed tests confirmed it and each disc was read flawlessly at 6x average. Optorite and Pioneer drives are slower due to lower supported reading speed.


5. DVD Error Correction Tests

Plextor PX-708A dual DVD±RW recorder - Page 5

DVD Error Correction Tests

In the following tests we examined the DVD reading capabilities of Plextor PX-708A drive with scratched / defected DVD media. For the tests we used CDVD Benchmark and Nero CDSpeed . The reference test media come from ALMEDIO.

- Single Layer media
ABEX TDR-821

This is a single sided, single layer DVD-ROM with a 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.

Plextor PX-708A read the disc at 12x CAV and the scratched area did not affect the process. The disc was read accurately and no read errors or were reported. The performance reveals high error correction capabilities with scratched single layer DVD-ROM discs.

ABEX TDR-825

This is also a single sided, single layer DVD-ROM of a 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 defected areas of dimensions ranging from 0.5 to 1.1 mm. There are also fingerprints sized between 65 and 75 micrometers.

As in the previous test, the disc was read without any read errors. The reading speed was not reduced when the drive read the defected areas, and the test was finished successfully.

- Dual Layer media
ABEX TDR-841

This is a 8.5GB dual layer, single sided DVD-ROM disc with artificial scratches of dimensions ranging from 0.4 to 3.0mm, in both layers.

The drive gave back uncorrectable read errors in the heavily scratched areas and the reading test was terminated from the first layer of the disc. The results were confirmed through the Windows Explorer since the disc contents were not accessible.

Although the drive finished successfully the ABEX 821 reading test, which has the same scratches for a single layer, it seems to face serious problems with the scratched double layered media.

ABEX TDR-845

The disc is a single sided, dual layer DVD-ROM disc of 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 range from 0.5 to 1.1 mm and the fingerprints are sized from 65 to 75 micro meters.

As in the corresponding test with the ABEX TDR-825 (defected single layer DVD-ROM), the disc was read accurately. The average reading speed for each layer was 6.06x, but the seek times were increased.

According to the results we have gathered until now, Plextor PX-708A can easily read scratched / defected single layer DVD-ROM discs, reads adequately the defected (fingerprints, black dots) dual layer discs, but needs to be improved when it comes to reading dual layer scratched DVD-ROMs.

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 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 correcting capabilities of the drive and includes scratches from 0.4 to 3.0 mm.

The reading process started at 3.5x until the 2.0GB address of the test disc, where the drive lowered the speed in order to read the scratched area. Although the first layer was read, not easily however, the second layer was even harder for the drive. CDSpeed gave a read error and the test was terminated, as you can see in the screen shot above.

The test results were confirmed when we tried to play the DVD Video files of the disc in our test PC, with CyberLink PowerDVD software. Playback froze by the end of the first layer (below 4.0GB address), and many skips occurred. We did not manage to playback the rest of the movie (second layer).

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 0.4 to 1.0 mm. It has also 65 - 75 micro meters fingerprints.

Black dots and fingerprints on the disc surface did not create any reading problems, and the drive finished the task successfully.


6. Protected Disc Tests

Plextor PX-708A dual DVD±RW recorder - Page 6

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, which is more interesting for all users.

Game Title
Protection Scheme
Duration
Reading speed
PSX "NBA Jam Extreme"
Lybcrypt
1:09 min
1309 sectors/sec
Serious Sam The Second Encounter v1.07
SafeDisc v.2.60.052
2:29 min
2231 sectors/sec
VRally II
SecuROM v.2
3:10 min
1809 sectors/sec

Plextor PX supports reading of subchannel data information from data/audio tracks. The drive was fast with all the protections, and especially with the the SafeDisc v.2 disc, where some competitive DVD writers (Pioneer A06, Optorite DD0203) were very slow.

- Writing Tests

Plextor PX-708A supports the DAO-RAW writing mode. For checking the drive's EFM correction status, we used 3 different game titles with different SafeDisc 2 versions with the latest software patches installed. After making the images of the various titles to the hard disk, we burned them (maximum speed) with Alcohol 120%. Two different discs were created for each title; one with the "Bypass EFM error" enabled and one more with the function disabled.

In the table below you can see whether the produced backups were working (game installed / played normally), or not.

Drive
Game Title
SD2 Build
Settings
Bypass EFM Error
No Bypass
Plextor PX-708A
Serious Sam - The Second Encounter v1.07
v.2.60.052
OK
OK
The Sims - Unleashed
v2.80.010
OK
OK

The backups were tested in many CD-RW and DVD-ROM drives, and both installation and playability worked flawlessly.


7. DAE Tests

Plextor PX-708A dual DVD±RW recorder - Page 7

DAE Tests

- Pressed and CDR AudioCD results

Plextor PX-708A supports the 40x maximum DAE speed. Below you can see a CDSpeed transfer rate test with a pressed audio CD:

According to CDSpeed, the average reading speed with this disc was 31.61x, and the reported seek times were adequate.

We ripped the contents of same audio disc to the hard disk with CDDAE software. The drive gave an average ripping speed (burst mode) of 29x for the pressed disc and 29.2x for a copied on CD-R.
Drive
Pressed Audio Disc
CD-R Audio Disc
Plextor PX-708A
29X
29.2X
Optorite DD0203
26.7X
26.8X
Pioneer DVR-A06
23.1X
21.2X

- Advanced DAE Quality

Plextor PX-708A got a 100 score (perfect) in the Nero CD Speed Advanced DAE test. The CDSpeed showed that the average reading speed is 29.80X, and that the drive supports reading of SubChannel data. Leadin / Leadout data and CD Text.

- Ripping of 99mins AudioCDs

Tested drives
Ripping up to
Plextor PX-708A
99min

- Reading/Ripping Protected AudioCDs

For the test procedure we used two audio discs with different audio protections. The tasks we tested is both recognition and ripping to the hard disk. The software we used is the Exact Audio Copy.

* Pressed Audio disc protected by Sony Key2Audio (Celine Dion - New Day Has Come)

* Pressed Audio disc protected by Cactus Data Shield 200 (Natalie Imbruglia - White Lilies Island)

Key2Audio
CDS200
EAC
Plextor PX-708A
OK
OK
Pioneer DVR-A06
Recognizes disc contents but cannot rip tracks
OK
Optorite DD0203
OK
Recognizes disc contents but cannot rip tracks

Plextor PX-708A is fully compatible with protected audio discs. Both discs were recognized and their contents were ripped accurately at the maximum speed.


8. CD-R Recording Tests

Plextor PX-708A dual DVD±RW recorder - Page 8

CD-R Recording Tests

Pioneer PX-708A supports 4x, 8x, 16x (CLV), 32x as well as the maximum 40x P-CAV writing speeds.

The writing speed in the beginning of the disc is 19.92x and increases until the 56:00:00 address of the disc, where it reaches the maximum 39.90x. For the rest of the disc, the writing speed is kept at 39.90x.

According to CDSpeed, the average writing speed with a 80min disc is 33.34x.

 

- Recording Times

For the burning tests we created a 80min data compilation through Nero Burning Rom recorded the data on a 700MB disc. Plextor PX-708A finished the task in 2:58 minutes, when we selected the 40x writing speed. The performance is adequate and can be compete many other drives, including some CD-RW burners.

Below you can see the best writing times of Plextor PX-708A at 8x, 16x, 32x and 40x. In each case, the PoweRec feature was enabled:

- Other features

Overburning
Up to 99min
CD text reading/writing
Yes


9. Writing Quality Tests - 3T Jitter Tests

Plextor PX-708A dual DVD±RW recorder - Page 9

Writing Quality Tests - 3T Jitter Tests

We used 80min 48X CD-R media by Taiyo Yuden and burned the same AudioCD project at 8x, 16x, 32x and 40x. In the following page you can see the 3T Pit & Land Jitter graphs.

- 3T Pit results

Generally the drive did not introduce high 3T pit jitter with the specific media. The highest 3T pit jitter was reported from the discs recorded at 40x, in the outer tracks. In these areas, the jitter reached the 37nsec, which should be an acceptable level, although the Red Book limit is 35msec. The 8x, 16x and 32x recorded discs gave very good results.

The average 3T Jitter values for all recording speeds are illustrated in the following table.

- 3T Land results

The average 3T Land results are slightly increased over those in the previous measurements of the 3T Pit Jitter. In this case the 32x and 40x discs gave higher jitter especially in the outer part of the disc, where the writing speed was 32x and 40x, respectively (Z-CLV). The maximum reported jitter value was 39ns, and come from the measurements of the 32x and 40x recorded disc, again in the outer tracks of the disc.

The 8x writing speed also seems to produce jitter marginally higher than 35nsec, and the 16x speed is more preferable when you write your audio CDs.

- Conclusion
Recording Speed
Average 3T Pit Jitter (ns)
Average 3T Land Jitter (ns)
> 35ns
Max 3T jitter values (ns)
8X
30.90
36.61
Yes
28 Pit, 37 Land
16X
29.07
32.29
No
31 Pit, 33 Land
32X
28.93
35.20
Yes
32 Pit, 39 Land
40X
27.39
36.20
Yes
37 Pit, 39 Land

Plextor PX-708A generally gave good results in the jitter measuring tests. The 40x writing speed introduced the highest jitter values in the outer areas of the disc, where the jitter reached the 39nsec. Writing at 32x produced low 3T pit but higher 3T land jitter. However, those values probably do not affect the quality of your recordings.

In the following page we check the C1 and C2 error rates of the same discs, to come up with safer results.


10. Writing Quality Tests - C1 / C2 Error Measurements

Plextor PX-708A dual DVD±RW recorder - Page 10

Writing Quality Tests - C1 / C2 Error Measurements

We measured the C1 / C2 error rate on the recorded discs we burned at the various supported writing speeds. The software we used is the PleXTools Professional, and particularly the built-in Q-Check utility.

However, the Q-Check functions are not active with the Plextor PX-708A used as a test disc reader, possibly because the drive does not retrieve C2 error information. For this reason, we used the Plextor Premium as a reader for retrieving the error rate information. The charts below illustrate the Q-Check graphs for various CD-R media.

 

Below you can see more information about the CD-R media we used in this test.

Disc
ID Code
Capacity
Taiyo Yuden 48X
TaiyoYuden 97m24s01f
79:59:72
SKC 48X
97m26s26f
79:59:73
TDK 48X
97m15s05f
79:59:74
Mam Golden Dye 52X
Mitsui 97m27s58f
79:59:74
- Summary

Media

Recording speed
C1
C2
CU
Avg / Sec
Max / Sec
Total
Avg / Sec
Max / Sec
Total
Avg / Sec
Max / Sec
Total
Taiyo Yuden 48X
8x
0.7
20.0
3367.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
16x
0.7
15.0
3337.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
32x
0.7
14.0
3365.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
40x
0.7
17.0
3472.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
SKC 48x
40x
1.3
24.0
6308.0
0.0
0.0

0.0

0.0
Mam Golden Dye 52x
40x
5.4
38.0
25663.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
TDK 48x
40x
2.0
19.0
9485.0
0.0
0.0
0.0

0.0

The results with Taiyo Yuden media are very good for all the supported writing speeds. The C1 error rate is low, and no C2 or CU errors were reported.

Although none of the discs had gave any C2 / CU errors, we could mention that the Mam 52x discs gave the highest amount and level of C1 errors.


11. CD-RW Writing Tests

Plextor PX-708A dual DVD±RW recorder - Page 11

CD-RW Writing Tests

Plextor PX-708A supports the 24x P-CAV maximum rewriting speed, with Ultra High Speed rewritable media. The drive also writes at 4x CLV with NS CD-RW and 10x CLV with HS-RW discs. Below you can see the CDSpeed writing simulation test with blank 24x US-RW media by Mitsubishi Chemicals.

The drive starts the writing task at 20.04x and reaches the maximum 24x before the 10:00 min address of the disc. According to CDSpeed, the average writing speed is 23.79x.

We also used Nero Burning Rom in order to burn a data disc with 24x US-RW media by MC. The data compilation we burned had a size of 651 MB and the duration of the recording process was 3:41 minutes.

- Packet Writing Tests

We used InCD and Mitsubishi Chemicals 24x US-RW media for all Packet Writing tests. The quick formatting of the media took 32sec. The formatted disc had 530mbs of free space. We copied a 403 MB file (403.147 KB) from a Hard Disk (on the same PC as the writers) to the formatted RW media through the Windows explorer (drag and drop).
Duration
Average speed
Read
3:47 min
11.84X
Write
5:00 min
8.96X

The Optorite DD0203 gave an average writing speed of 7.8x and is slower than the Sony drive while the Pioneer DVR-A05 is ranked at the third place with 5.6x. In the reading part, the Optorite drive is the fastest among the rest drives reaching a speed of 7.6x.

- Mount Rainier Tests

Plextor PX-708A supports the Mount Rainier format with CD-R/RW media. The drive's compliance is also confirmed by the Mount Rainier Validation Suite v2.1 by Philips. All three scripts loaded in the Validation Suite (mandatory command set, Light R'n R and Heavy R'n R) were passed successfully by the drive.

We formatted a 24x US-RW disc under the Mt Rainier format. The format was very fast and we immediately started the drag' drop process, with the same file as in the normal packet writing test. With the background formatting in full progress, we show you the reading / writing performance:

Duration
Average speed
Read
7:21 min
6.09X
Write
16:36 min
2.67X

Both reading and writing speeds are low since the background formatting forces the drive to write or read on the inserted disc as well as to resume the formatting.


12. DVD Recording Tests

Plextor PX-708A dual DVD±RW recorder - Page 12

DVD Recording Tests

- Writing Performance

Plextor PX-708A supports DVD-R/RW and DVD+R/RW writing. The maximum supported speed for the DVD+R is 8x (6x~8x Z-CLV), 4x CLV for DVD-R, 4x CLV for DVD+RW and 2x CLV for DVD-RW media.

Currently no 8x certified DVD+R media are available in the market. Plextor suggest the usage of some existing 4x DVD+R media for burning at 8x speed. In the table below are illustrated all the suggested DVD media for recording:

Recommended Media
Recording Speeds
Disc Manufacturer
DVD+R (4.7 GB)
8X, 4X, 2.4X
Verbatim/Mitsubishi Chemical, Taiyo Yuden, Ricoh
DVD+RW
4X, 2.4X
Verbatim/Mitsubishi Chemical, Ricoh
DVD-R
1X-4X
Verbatim/Mitsubishi Chemical, Taiyo Yuden, Maxell, TDK
DVD-RW
1X-2X
Verbatim/Mitsubishi Chemical, TDK, Victor (JVC)

We used a 4x DVD+R disc by Ricoh, in order to check the 8x writing strategy of the drive. The software we used is Nero CDSpeed, and its "create disc" function.

Plextor PX-708A started writing at 6.03x, and kept this speed until the 0.7 GB address of the disc, to accelerate to 8x. Unfortunately the drive dropped the writing speed again before finishing writing, and finished the task at 4.03x.

We repeated the test with Verbatim 4x DVD+R media, but again, the writing process started at 6x and soon it was reduced to 4x, without reaching the maximum 8x in any part of the test.

Below is a CDSpeed screenshot with 4x DVD+R media by Ricoh:

Below is a screenshot of CDspeed writing test with 4x DVD+RW discs by Ricoh:

- Burning Tests

We burned 4315MB of data on various DVD±R, DVD±RW media. We used the maximum allowed writing speed for each disc, with the PoweREC feature enabled. The best recording times are illustrated in the following table. For comparison, we also include the writing times of Optorite DD0203 and Pioneer DVR-A06:

DVD Recording Tests (max speed)
Drives
DVD-R
DVD-RW
DVD+R
DVD+RW
Plextor PX-708A
14:36 (4X)
28:35 (2X)
7:53 (8X)
14:06 (4X)
Optorite DD0203
14:48 (4X)
29:22 (2X)
14:27 (4X)
23:25 (2.4X)
Pioneer DVR-A06
15:48 (4X)
29:04 (2X)
14:54 (4X)
21:46 (2.4X)

Verbatim 4x DVD+R media was burned at 8x and gave the best writing time (7:53 min). The Plextor 4x DVD+R disc was also recorded at 8x but the total burning time was higher (10:58 min), revealing that the drive dropped the writing speed at 4x by the end of the process.

Plextor PX-708A finished the same writing task with Ricoh 4x DVD+RW discs in 14:06 min, a very fast performance for 4x DVD+RW recording.

The following pictures come from Nero, after successful burnings with Verbatim 4x DVD+R, Taiyo Yuden 4x DVD+R, and Ricoh 4x DVD+RW media. The amount of data is the same for all the tests.

 

 

Plextor PX-708A selects the maximum allowed recording speed according to the inserted blank DVD discs. In the following table you can see the maximum permitted writing speeds with various media.

Disc Label
Disc Information
Writing Speed
TDK 4x DVD+R
RICOHJPNR01
8x
TDK 4x DVD-R
TTG01
4x
Maxell 4x DVD+R
MAXELL 001
4x
Maxell 4x DVD-R
MXLRG02
4x
Verbatim 4x DVD+R
MCC 002
8x
Verbatim 4x DVD-R
MCC01RG20
4x
Ritek 4x DVD-R
RITEKG04
4x
Plextor 4x DVD+R
YUDEN000T01
8x
Pioneer 2x DVD-RW
PVCW00V00245
2x
Ricoh 4x DVD+RW
RICOHJPNW11
4x
Ricoh 4x DVD+R
RICOHJPNR01
8x
- DVD+RW Packet Writing

Plextor PX-708A supports packet writing with DVD+RW and DVD-RW media. To test the performance in the DVD+RW format, we formatted some Ricoh 4x DVD+RW discs and started the drag'n drop process, using an 1GB file. With the background formatting in full progress, we wrote down the reading / writing performance.

For the DVD-RW format we used a 2x DVD-RW by Pioneer. The performance of the drive is illustrated in the table below:

2x DVD-RW
4X DVD+RW
Read
1.32X
1.37X
Write
0.9X
1.26X

Although the media we used support the higher available writing speeds for each format, under packet writing the performance is lower than in the case of normal writing. In case of DVD+RW, this can be explained by the fact that the background formatting process was running in parallel with our tests.

- DVD+MRW Tests

We used MRW Validation Suite 2.1 by Philips to test the compliance of the Plextor PX-708A with the Mount Rainier DVD+MRW. For the test we used 4x DVD+RW media by Ricoh. The test was terminated immediately after starting prompting us to insert a blank DVD+RW disc.

In addition, we did not manage to format the DVD+RW disc through the latest version of InCD by Ahead. We initially thought that the problem is located to the software by Ahead. According to latest information, the PX-708A is not DVD+MRW compliant, at least with the specific firmware installed.


13. Writing Quality Tests - PI / PO Error Measurements

Plextor PX-708A dual DVD±RW recorder - Page 13

KProbe PI/PO quality results

In the following screenshots you can see the PI/PO scans for various 4x DVD-R/+R and DVD-RW/+RW media, recorded with Plextor PX-708A at the maximum speed.

The software we used for the measurements is the KProbe v1.1.14, and the reader is LiteOn XJ-HD165H. The specific methodology is very depended on the drive we use as a reader, and the reliability of the PI/PO provided output is also not technically confirmed. As a result, we cannot safely come up with absolute results, but we are allowed to compare the behavior of the drive with various DVD recordable/rewritable media.

The recordable discs we used come from Hitachi-Maxell, Pioneer, Philips, TDK, Taiyo Yuden, Mitsubishi Chemicals, Verbatim and Ritek. More information about each disc type is available in the bottom of the page.

 

Media
Code
Verbatim 4X DVD-R
MCC01RG20
Verbatim 4X DVD+R
MCC 002
Maxell 4X DVD+R
MAXELL 001
Maxell 4X DVD-R
MXLRG02
TDK 4X DVD-R
TTG01
TDK 4X DVD+R
RICOHJPNR01
Pioneer 4X DVD-R
PVCR001002
Ritek 4X DVD-R
RITEKG04
Philips 2.4X DVD+R RICOHJPNR00
Maxell 2X DVD-RW JVC_VictorW7
Maxell 2X DVD-RW
PVCW00V00245

14. Conclusion

Plextor PX-708A dual DVD±RW recorder - Page 14

Conclusion

Pros

Cons

  • 8x DVD+R writing
  • 4x DVD+RW/-R writing
  • 40/24/40 CD-RW
  • Adequate CD seek times
  • Fast CD-R/RW/DVD-ROM/DVD±R/RW reading
  • High error correction with defected / scratched CD-R media
  • 40x max DAE
  • Supports audio protected discs
  • Good CD-R writing quality
  • Creates working backups of SafeDisc v.2.80
  • Overburning up to 99min
  • Supports CD-Text (reading/writing)
  • Supports 99min audio discs
  • Mount Rainier support for CD
  • Low error correction performance with dual layer scratched DVD-ROM / DVD Video
  • Problems writing at 8x with Ricoh 4x DVD+R media
  • DVD seek times could be lower
  • Limited media support for 8x DVD+R writing
  • Excessive heat while operating

The new Plextor PX-708A definitely stands out and above most other DVD writers on the market, offering the highest writing speeds for DVD recording, dual DVD format support, and excellent performance as a CD-RW drive as well.

The supported 8x DVD+R writing offers impressive recording times, the lowest we have ever experienced from a DVD writer. Our 4.38GB DVD movie file was burned in only 7:58 minutes. The drive also burned the same files to a 4x DVD+RW disc in less than 15 minutes. However, we would like to see a more stable behavior when writing at 8x, since the drive slowed down its speed and in most cases finished writing at a lower speed. This occurred with both Ricoh and Taiyo Yuden 4x DVD+R media. These are among those suggested by Plextor for 8x writing. The explanation for this is mostly the PoweRec feature, that lowers the writing speed to maintain higher quality. Wider availability of 8x DVD+R media is expected in the next couple of months and the Plextor development team is currently concentrating its efforts to support the a widest possible range of media.

The PI/PO measurements on the Taiyo Yuden 4x DVD+R (recorded at 8x) showed that the error rate was higher in the outer areas of the disc, while in case of the Verbatim 4x DVD+R (8x) disc, the error rate is lower. This is probably due to the fact that the Verbatim disc was not recorded at 8x but partially at 6X ~ 4X. Recording at 4x gave very good results.

In the DVD reading part, Plextor PX-708A is very fast with both single layer and dual layer DVD-ROM's, as well as with DVD-R/-RW and DVD+R/+RW. For DVD Video discs the drive keeps the reading (and ripping) speed at 2x, in order to avoid high vibrations, according to Plextor. Pressing the eject button as described in the DVD reading page, will make the drive read/rip at faster speeds.

The DVD error correction tests showed that PX-708A is capable of reading accurately the single layer ABEX DVD-ROM discs (defected / scratched) but has problems with the corresponding dual layer discs. The CDSpeed reading test with the ABEX TDR-841 (dual layer, scratched DVD-ROM) was terminated in the first layer of the disc. The situation was the same with the dual layer DVD Video test disc. On the other hand, normal DVD Video discs were accurately read and played back in our test PC.

Moreover, the PX-708A is a fast CD-RW writer. With 40/24/40 capabilities, the drive is a very fast reader with CD-R/RW discs, supports 40X maximum DAE, and writes fast and accurately on CD-R media. The 3T jitter measurements were very positive and the discs had low C1 / C2 error rate, for all the writing speeds.

In addition, the drive showed excellent error correction with defected CD-R media and finished the EAC suite tests giving some of the best scores we have ever had from a CD reader.

Plextor PX-708A is available in the market at a price of $250~280, with a 2-year warranty for Africa, Europe and Middle East. The upcoming 8x writers from Philips / Benq, Pioneer, NEC and Sanyo are expected to rise the competition and drop prices to even lower levels. We are sure that Plextor will resolve some minor issues that currently keep the drive away from absolute perfection, with future firmware upgrades. For know the PX-708A deserves our Editor's Choice Award.

 


15. Writing quality tests - updated

Plextor PX-708A DVD±RW - Page 15

Writing quality tests - updated

After many requests from our readers we flash our PX-708A recorder with the latest available firmware, the v1.06, and we made some extra recording tests.

This time the software we used for our measurements was Kprobe v.2.1.0 and the reader LiteOn LDW-811S. The reading speed was set to maximum and the ECC at 8.

BenQ 4X DVD+R( recorded at 8X)

BenQ 4X DVD-R( recorded at 4X)

CMC 8X DVD+R( recorded at 8X)

Traxdata 8X DVD+R( recorded at 8X)

Traxdata 4X DVD-R( recorded at 4X)

Verbatim 4X DVD+R( recorded at 8X)

Media
ID
BenQ 4X DVD+R
DAXON AZ1
BenQ 4X DVD-R
SONY 04D1
CMC 8X DVD+R
CMC MAG E01
Traxdata 8X DVD+R
RITEK R03
Traxdata 4X DVD-R
RITEK G04
Verbatim 4X DVD+R
MCC 002

The writing quality has been improved while the drive supports more media. Certified 4X DVD+R media burned at 8X. The writing quality is also good here. However there were some cases, with the BenQ media, where the PI/PO levels were increased. Once you are using well known brands you won't have any problems.



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