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Home > Hardware Reviews > Optical Storage > DVD Recorders 12x

Monday, May 17, 2004
Plextor PX-712A

1. Introduction

Plextor PX-712A Dual DVD±RW Recorder - Page 1


Plextor was the first manufacturer to release a dual-format 8X/4X DVD recorder, the PX-708A. Now, Plextor has released the first 12X/8X burner, the very promising PX-712A. This is the first drive to support 12X DVD+R recording in combination with 8X DVD-R. In addition, it is the first DVD recorder with 48X maximum recording speed for the CD-R format. Plextor usually puts a lot of effort in the correct hardware implementation and firmware design, so our expectations are high for this model.

- Features

VariRec feature can be applied not only with Audio CD-R discs but also with DVD±RW media. 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 for CD at 4X and 8X and for DVD at 2X and 4X writing speeds. Nero and other programs support this feature as well.

The PoweRec technology ensures the quality of CD and DVD recordings. Low quality media is 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.

Other interesting features of the PX-712A, used only with PlexTools are:

  • allows high capacity storage of up to 1 GB on a 700 MB disc. With this advanced feature, you can increase the maximum writing capacity up to 40%*
  • offers password protection for your disc and other valuable data*
  • checks and reports written disc quality ? C1/C2, PI/PO, track and focus errors*
  • enables users to vary tray load/unload speed, spin up/down speed and write/read speeds*

* More information about each function later at its own pages.

Of course, the most awaited feature of the new Plextor PX-712A is the supported higher reading / writing speeds. The new drive offers 12X DVD+R (6~12 P-CAV) recording, the highest DVD recording speed available today. Not many manufacturers will jump on the 12X DVD+R writing speed wagon, since there is no official standard. It must be noted that in the next couple of months, 16X full CAV DVD+R writers will hit the market.

DVD-R can be written up to 8X and DVD±RW at 4X CLV, while. DVD-ROM reading goes up to 16X CAV - for SL (single layer) media - and 12X for DL (double layer) media. This drive has also very impressive capabilities when viewed as a CD-RW recorder, offering 48X/24X/48X speeds.

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

DVD+R: 12X / -R: 8X, DVD+RW: 4X, DVD-RW: 4X

CD-R: 48X, CD-RW: 24X
Read Speed:

DVD+R/-R/+RW/-RW: 12X

DVD-ROM: 16X, CD-R/RW: 40X/48X
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-712A supports Mount Rainier for CD-R/RW and DVD+R/+RW (DVD+MRW). The drive also uses 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 are the drive's main specs as taken from NeroInfoTool and DVDInfoPro:

PlexTools v2.13 was used to support the drive's new testing abilities as well. Below you can see the supported subpages for the PX-712A drive.

A new interesting feature of PlexTools v2.13 is that after right clickingn on the drive and selecting the "Status" option, you can check the drive's main features, such as reading/writing speeds and GigaRec/VariRec on/off:

When a blank DVD recordable/rewritable media is inserted, the user can check which writing speeds are supported under the CD/DVD Info page. When an already burned disc is inserted, PlexTools will report various information about the disc:

Below you can see all the available CD reading speeds, according to the data type of a disc as presented within PlexTools. The maximum reading speed for CD-R is 48X when SpeedRead is enabled, and 40X for the remaining CD formats:

The maximum CD writing speed for CD-R is 48X P-CAV and 24x P-CAV, when using Ultra Speed CD-RW media:

Single layer DVD-ROM media can be read up to 16X CAV, which is quite impressive. DVD±R/RW discs will be read up to 12X CAV. As PlexTools reports, DVD-Video will be played at 2X CLV to avoid noise and vibrations, which however can be overcome very easily :-)

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

- European Retail package

The European retail package includes the Plextor PX-712A 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-712A offers a 2-year warranty for Europe, Middle-East and Africa. There is no blank DVD±RW media included with the retail package, which could be annoying for an amateur user. Perhaps this decision was made by Plextor to reduce the cost (180 Euro) of the retail package.

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 9 SE is available for video editing / authoring.

The second CD-ROM available in the package contains PlexTools Professional CD/DVD v2.12 utility software and a detailed manual in several languages.

Let's take a look at the drive itself.

The PX-712A model resembles the previous 708 drive and it has all the appropriate logos indicating the supported formats. The only difference between the front panel of the 708A and the 712A is the lack of the head-phone jack and the volume control button. The black tray, according to Plextor, reduces the optical distortion of the laser beam while reading/writing, producing higher quality burns. The activity 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 connector. Another version of PX-712A planned to arrive shortly with S-ATA interface and codename PX-712S.

Our drive was manufactured in April 2004 with a TLA#0001 (hardware revision).

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 to enlarge!

Below you can see Sanyo's latest LSI chipset, the LC897491. According to Sanyo, the new chipset supports 12x DVD+R, 8x DVD-R, 8x DVD±RW, 52x CD-R and 32x CD-RW recording speeds. In addition it supports Sanyo’s HD-BURN and BURN-Proof technologies. With reading, the chipset offers 16x DVD-ROM, 52x CD-ROM and 2x DVD-RAM.

- Installation

The drive was installed as secondary master and under WindowsXP was recognized as "PLEXTOR DVDR PX-712A". The drive arrived with firmware v1.00. Plextor released a newer firmware (v1.01) that was being used for all reading/recording tests. Below is a picture from Nero Burning Rom, showing the drive's specs.

We have only tested one other 12X DVD+R burner, that from CyberDrive, so we decided to compare the drive with its older brother, the PX-708A and the CyberDrive CX12A.

- Testing software

In order to perform our tests we used:

  1. Nero CD-DVD Speed v3.00
  2. CDVD Benchmark v1.21
  3. ExactAudioCopy v0.9 beta5
  4. Nero Info Tool v2.21
  5. KProbe v2.1.0 (Reader: LiteOn LDW-811S firmware vHSOK, Reading speed 8X CAV)
  6. PlexTools v2.13 (Reader: Plextor PX-712A firmware v1.01, Reading speed 8X CLV for CD-R)
  7. DVDInfoPro v2.47
  8. Nero Burning Rom v6.3.1.10

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