PX-320A IDE DVD/CDR-W - Page
February 2002 Plextor announced the PX-320A. This was the first ever Plextor
drive that supported the DVD playback option, making combo drives again appealing
to user's eye. In the past Plextor avoided presenting a DVD-ROM drive possibly
due to the fact that the Taiwanese competition could always ship lower cost
DVD readers. We examine if Plextor's entry at the combo market is successful
and how good the PX-320A is at both CD & DVD formats.
The PleXCombo PX-320A supports all the well-known features as introduced with
to avoid buffer underruns,
to automatically choose the best recording speed with the inserted media,
to give recorded audio a more personalized tone,
Black tray to reduce C1 errors (and jitter), as the black colour absorbs some
of the OPU's (Optical Power Unit) laser light, which improves writing quality,
and improved PCB (power circuit board) to avoid spark noise. Plextor's testing
equipment showed serious improvement for deviation and especially jitter over
the whole range (3T-11T) as the following graph illustrates:
now pass over the recording specifications. The drive supports the following
writing modes: Track-at-Once, Disc-at-Once, Session-at-Once, Multisession, and
variable/fixed packet writing. The Plextor PX-320A drive supports: 1X, 4X, 8X,
16X and 20x (CLV) writing speeds. With HS-RW media, 4x and 10x recording speeds
The buffer of the drive is 2MB and there isn't support of the Mt. Rainier
format. The drive's CD reading speed is 40x (CAV) max and in the table below
you can see all the supported speeds, in various formats. Note that with HS-RW
media, maximum reading speed is 32x.maximum speed is only 32x.
officially supports DVD-ROM, DVD-R and DVD-RW formats. From our tests, DVD+R/+RW
formats are also supported but not DVD-RAM. The maximum reading speed is 12X
(CAV) but with DVD-R/-RW speed is reduced to 8X (CAV). When playback DVD movies
the reading speed is reduced to 2X to "avoid noise and vibration"
as Plextor says. This however, limits the DVD ripping speed down to 2X.
The Plextor drive has RPC2 protection, which means that you can change the
region of the drive only 5 times before the drive locks to the last change.
Till now there isn't any region free firmware.
- The package
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,
one blank 74min disc, one 4-10x HS-RW media (actual manufacturer Ricoh), an
IDE cable, an audio cable and mounting screws. The retail box is much bigger
than what we have used with other Plextor IDE drives. There isn't any printed
manual, only the electronic PDF version.
The attached CDR software comes from Ahead (Nero 188.8.131.52/InCD 3.28). You
can also find a CD with PlexTools v1.13 and a disc with PowerDVD XP v4.0 OEM
Plextor Version (works only with the drive installed). 2-year warranty (only
valid in Europe, Middle-East and Africa) and Plextor's "on-site collect
and return service" (EU countries + Norway and Switzerland) are also present
in the PX-320A. The retail package is expected to cost 229Euro.
users should install the latest PlexTools update (v1.13a) to get the best from
their drive. PleXTools offer many "interesting" features such as CD/DVD
speed setting and spin down time. You can also enable/disable "Single Session"
and "Hide CDR media". The last two options are very useful since with
the "Single Session" you should be able to rip Audio protected CDs
(Key2Audio, CDS200). With the second feature, you can hide the CD-R media from
the system in order to playback backups the SD2 and SecuROM 2 protected CDs.
Despite the fact that the features are there, both were greyed out, without
any indication how to activate them. Plextor promised to activate them in future
The front of the PleXCombo PX-320A is different that what we had used in
the previous IDE models. The drive contains the "24/10/40-12A", "BPRec",
"High-Speed RW" and "DVD-ROM" logos. The tray is black,
as with PX-W4012A and its operation is smooth, even if the CD loading is slow:
There are two leds (Disc, Busy). The CD indicator blinds green when a CD
is loaded, yellow during CD reading and orange during CD writing. The CD indicator
blinks orange at different speeds, depending on the read/re-write speed
In the back of the drive, you will find the power connector, the IDE cable
connector, jumpers for setting up the as MASTER/SLAVE/CABLE select and finally,
the analog/SPDIF connectors:
The Plextor PX-320A was installed as a Master in the primary IDE BUS. The
drive worked in UDMA-33 mode. After booting, it identified itself as a "PLEXTOR
CD-R PX-320A". WinXP activated DMA without our interference.
The drive was a May 2002 model with firmware revision v1.01
and TLA#0001 hardware revision. We used Nero v184.108.40.206, InCD v3.28 and CloneCD
v220.127.116.11 for the recording tests.