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Home > Hardware Reviews > Optical Storage > DVD Recorders 8x

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
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:
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.

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