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Home > Hardware Reviews > Optical Storage > DVD Recorders Double Layer

Friday, July 1, 2005
Plextor PX-740A

1. Introduction

Plextor, well known in the optical storage market, has released its latest model burner, the 740A, featuring 8X +R DL writing speed along with -R DL media support. Apart from this, Plextor also chose to change its chipset from Sanyo's to Philips', a chipset we saw used only in BenQ and of course, Philips drives. The new Plextor drive has other improvements as well, as we will see later on in this review.

Apart from the 8X+R DL and 4X-R DL support, the drive also offers 8X DVD+RW and 6X DVD-RW media burning speed. It can also write +R and -R media at the max speed of 16X.

- Drive Features

The Plextor 740A also supports the following unique features:

  • Buffer Underrun Proof Technology to ensure maximum burned media quality avoiding any unrecoverable errors due to burning process.
  • Lossless Linking : In the DVD+RW Video format, video can be encoded with a variable bit-rate (VBR). Because the writing process takes place at a constant bit rate, the writing process needs to be suspended and continued frequently. Normally, this would result in a linking loss, making the disc incompatible with read-only devices like DVD Video players and DVD-ROM drives. With DVD+RW it is possible to perform lossless linking, i.e. to suspend and continue the writing process without linking loss.
  • Zero Linking : The technology used for DVD-R/RW media.

- Specifications

Performance Write DVD+R : 16x: 22.160KB/s (CAV), 12x: 16.620KB/s (PCAV), 8x: 11.080KB/s, 4x: 5.540KB/s (ZCAV), 2.4x: 3.324KB/s
DVD-R: 16x: 22.160KB/s (CAV), 12x: 16.620KB/s (PCAV), 8x: 11.080KB/s, 4x: 5.540KB/s (ZCAV), 2.4x: 3.324KB/s

CD-R : 48x: 7.200KB/s (CAV), 40x: 6.000KB/s (CAV), 32x: 4.800KB/s (PCAV), 24x: 3.600KB/s (PCAV), 16x: 2.400 (ZCAV), 12x: 1.800 (ZCAV)

DVD+R DL : 8x: 11.080KB/s (PCAV), 4x: 5.540KB/s (ZCAV), 2.4x: 3.324KB/s
DVD-R DL : 4x: 5.540KB/s (ZCAV), 2.4x: 3.324KB/s
ReWrite DVD+RW : 8x: 11.080KB/s (ZCAV), 4x: 5.540KB/s (ZCAV), 2.4x: 3.324KB/s
DVD-RW : 6x: 8.310KB/s (ZCAV), 4x: 5.540KB/s (ZCAV), 2.4x: 3.324KB/s
CD-RW : 32x: 4.800KB/s (PCAV), 24x: 3.600KB/s (PCAV), 16x: 2.400KB/s, 10x: 1.500KB/s, 4x: 600KB/s (ZCAV)
Read DVD-ROM : 16x CAV, 12x CAV, 8x CAV, 6x CAV, 4x CAV
CD-ROM : 48x CAV, 40x CAV, 32x CAV, 24x CAV, 16x CAV, 10x CAV
Compatible formats: CD (Read/Write) CD-DA, CD-Extra, CD-ROM Mode-1, CD-ROM Mode-2, CD-ROM XA, Photo-CD, Video-CD, Multisession, CD TEXT, CD-I, CD+G, Mixed CD

CD-R/RW (Write)
Track at Once, Disc at Once, Packet Write (variable and fixed), Session at Once

DVD (Read/Write)
DVD-ROM, DVD-Video, Multiborder, Multisession, DVD+VR, DVD-VR
DVD+R/RW (Write)
DVD+R:Disc at Once, Multisession, Incremental Recording
DVD+R DL: Disc at Once
DVD+RW: Sequential Write, Random Access Write
DVD-R/RW (Write)
DVD-R: Disc at Once, Multiborder recording, Incremental recording
DVD-RW: Disc at Once, Multiborder recording, Incremental recording, Restricted Overwriting, DRT-DM
Access Time <100ms (CD), <150ms (DVD)
Dimensions (LxWxH) 146 x 41.2 x 177.5 mm
Weight 850 gr
Buffer Size 2MB
Interface E-IDE/ ATAPI
Power Requirement DC +5V
DC +12V
Reliability characteristics

MTBF: 125.000 POH (20%)
Tray Loading Eject : 35.000 times

The following information is from Plextools 2.23 (which is included in the retail package) for the 740A drive.

DVD InfoPro provides its own detailed information about the Plextor 740A.

- Retail Package

The Retail package includes:
the PX 740A DVD recorder, an E-IDE (ATAPI) cable, mounting screws, a comprehensive Quick Installation Guide.

Finally there's the software bundle, consisting of full and trial versions, including :
PlexTools Professional (ver.2.23), PlexTools Professional XL, Cyberlink Solutions as it is labeled, which is a collection of software for your DVD authoring and viewing needs, Nero OEM, Pinnacle Studio 1.3.18 Trial version, Sonic solutions recording software and DVD Viewer software.

-The Drive

The front bezel is the typical white with the DVD+RW and the DVD+R and -R DL logos on the bottom left hand side.

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

Once more, as we did in all our reviews, we opened the drive to take a closer look under the "hood". We don't recommend you do this with your drive as it will void the warranty. Clicking on the image below will open a larger, more detailed view of the drives inner parts.

click to enlarge!

Here is a picture of the drive's main chipset from Philips.

- Installation

The drive was installed under WindowsXP and was recognized as "PLEXTOR DVR PX-740A". The 740A came with 1.00 firmware revision and we flashed it to the latest firmware, v1.01 as can be seen in the Nero properties screenshot below.

Changes to the latest 1.01 firmware upgrade.

  • Improved write quality on all media types
  • Improved write performance on DVD-R DL media.
  • Added support for new media types.
  • Fixed a bug which would limit the useable space on DVD-R Dual Layer media
  • Fixed a bug which would cause a data verify error if less than 2 gig were written on a piece of DVD-R DL media in DAO mode.
  • Fixed a bug which could cause errors with the transfer rate when writing in Multi-Word DMA mode.
  • Improved the performance of BurnProof when writing on CDR media

In this review, we will be comparing the Plextor 740A drive with three other drives of similar characteristics and technology. These are the LiteOn 1693S, the BenQ 1640 and the NEC 3530A, all being latest releases.

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