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Home > Hardware Reviews > Optical Storage > 40x CD-RW

Monday, February 10, 2003
PleXWriter PX-W4012TS

1. Introduction

PleXWriter PX-W4012TS SCSI CD-RW - Page 1

- Introduction

Plextor is one of the few companies that used to adopt both IDE and SCSI connection interfaces. For many years, the famous PX-40TS had become the de-facto CD-ROM reader for SCSI interface. The last SCSI recorder from Plextor was the PX-W1210TS model, and from that time, it seemed that Plextor would never re-release an ultra fast SCSI recorder.

There were various reasons for this but the most important was the high cost and the low demand/sales of SCSI recorders. At last, the 2003 find Plextor developing a new fast SCSI recorder, despite the high competition of cheap IDE CD-RW drives. What are the expectations from the new PX-W4012TS and how the drive performs against its IDE brother (PX-W4012A)?

- Features

As we have mentioned in an earlier review, both the PX-W4012A/TS series support:

- ZoneCLV recording technology
- VariRec recording mode
- PoweRec II media checking system
- Optimised PCB (power circuit board)
- Black tray
- Mt. Rainier support
- Up to 40X AudioCD authoring

- Specifications

The drive's features according to Nero Info Tool are the following:

PlexTools give us some additional information:

Something strange is that the PleXTools v1.18 didn't recognize the attached Buffer capacity (4MB) and reported an "unknown" capacity. Probably it's just a minor bug.

The drive supports 40X maximum reading / writing and 12X re-writing speeds. The buffer is 4MB and the reading of CD-Text and CD+G are supported. Nero Info Tool also reports that retrieving of C2 error information is supported but its accuracy will be examined later. Mt. Rainier format is also supported. The following pictures show the available reading/writing speeds:

After installing PleXTools v1.18 attached software, we can get more information about the adopted technology for each reading/recording speed:

Reading Speeds

Recording speeds

- Recording Technology

The drive supports the 40X recording speed with the use of Z-CLV recording technology. As Nero CD Speed graph shows, the drive starts writing at 20X, shifts up to 24x at 8mins, accelerates to 32x at 28mins and finally reaches the 40x at 54mins. That gives a theoretical average writing speed of 31.06X when using an 80min CD-R media.

- 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, 1 blank CD-R (made by Taiyo Yuden), 1 4-12x HS-RW disc (actual manufacturer Ricoh), an audio cable and mounting screws. The attached CDR software comes from Ahead (Nero 5.5.x & InCD 3.3x) and "PlexTools" v1.18. The bulk package contains: PleXWriter 40/12/40S, a manual in 16 languages, Plextor Utility software (PlexTools), and an audio cable.

TPlextor offers a 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). The retail package costs around Euro 270, including VAT, while the bulk version is expected at a lower price.

The PleXTools v1.18 software can be very useful for both amateur and experienced users. You can adjust various settings of the drive, rip AudioCDs with probably, the best error correction DAE software engine, author both AudioCD and CD-ROM projects, can copy Audio/Data CDs (and AudioCD protected) and lastly test recorded discs for reading errors.

- Looking at the drive

The front panel is almost the same as with the "older" PX-W1210TS. There are four LEDs, two buttons (eject, play/next), and the "40/12/40", "BPRec" and "High Speed" logos.

The operation of the front LEDs is the following:

  • Disc Indicator: Shows a green light when a CD is loaded
  • On/Read indicator: Shows a green light when the power is turned on and flashes when data is being read from a CD
  • Low-speed write indicator: Flashes orange when a CD-R is being written to a speed between 1X and 24X, or when a CD-RW is being written to with a speed between 4X and 10X
  • High-speed write indicator: Flashes orange when a CD-R is being written to a speed between 32X and 40X, or when a CD-RW is being written to with a speed of 12X.

A special version with black bezel is also available, dedicated to users who have a black coloured PC case. Both black and white versions are expected to have the same price:

On the rear panel of the drive you will find the SCSI-2 connectors, the jumpers for setting the SCSI-ID, the analogue and the digital audio output connectors and of course the power connector. There is no attached fan as with the PX-W1210S series.

The SCSI-ID can change with the appropriate set of the three jumpers, as it is indicated in the following table:

The drive was manufactured at December 2002 and it comes with a hardware revision TLA #0000

- Inside the drive

After removing the bottom screws we can see the internal of the drive. A big difference with previous Plextor drives is the specific drive includes a warranty sticker in the side, meaning if you decide to open the drive you will automatically loose the warranty! Be careful! The drive is based again at SANYO chipsets and uses various other chipsets without any obvious manufacturer ID.

Click to enlarge!

- Installation

The PleXWriter PX-W4012TS was installed at an ADAPTEC 29160 with the default SCSI-ID (4). The drive worked at Ultra SCSI mode (20MB/sec). After booting, it identified itself as a "PLEXTOR CD-R PX-W4012S". We used Nero v5.5.10, CloneCD v4.2.0.2 and Ahead InCD v3.51.91 for the recording tests. The drive did not automatically reduce the maximum writing speed (40X) even when we used a low quality media, but user will notice the increased recording time. Also PoweREC cannot be disabled, as with the newest PX-W4824A series. The following Nero picture shows additional information for the drive. After this review was written, Plextor released a newer firmware update (v1.01) that supposed to support the 1X writing speed. Despite our efforts we couldn't write 1X, even with the new firmware version.

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