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[Deleted] - 7/22/2004 4:11:32 PM   
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(in reply to cvs)
  Post #: 49
RE: Plextor PX-712A writing quality on several differen... - 7/30/2004 7:03:18 PM   
cvs


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UPDATE on my hand picked drive & IMPORTANT NEWS

Based on this, it might be an idea to postpone your PX712 review until the end of August ...

Ok so let's take it step by step.

First, Plextor contacted me today and told me that they have shipped my hand picked unit (also known as the 3rd unit ). Unfortunately I'll only get it on Monday, so I can't test it over the weekend. Nothing extraordinary about this, as it was expected to happen ...

But the e-mail from Plextor was quite comprehensive, and very interesting indeed. They have worked quite hard in the past week to hand pick a good unit for me and according to them, they have found one which works well with most media. This wasn't an easy task it appears...

They have also acknowledged that there are some units out there, which do not perform as expected on some media, while working great on other media. They have worked hard to find out why this happens and how can it be fixed, and they have finally found an answer.

There are two answers in fact:

1. There are some media manufacturers behaving badly; in other words, they use the same media codes as high quality media, but the quality of the discs is not as good (poor quality control I suspect, or even worse).


From their email, my understanding is that currently the drive determines its writing strategy only based on the media ID code ... and when the media quality is not as good as expected, the results are pretty bad, because this strategy is not adapted to take into account the differences in quality to start with ... this would explain why some other drives like NEC seem to deal way better with cheaper media, in spite of the fact that usually the quality of cheaper media varies quite a lot. Probably NEC is taking this into account.

But there are good news in store for us ... Plextor is currently working hard on a new firmware release which will adapt the writing strategy to the quality of the media. I expect this new firmware will be a significant improvement over current firmwares and it will even bring back the King's "lost" crown

Right, this will cater for low quality media you'll say, but what about all those drives which do not work properly with high quality media either? Good point!

2. Well, there is a technical reason behind all these units exhibiting "selective" defects (e.g. they work OK with some media but don't like other media at all, in spite of being high quality media and sometimes even on the recommended media list) ... and they have found the reason for this strange behaviour. It seems that the problem lies with the circuitry which determines the laser writing power required to write certain media, particularly with the tolerance of the electronic components which are part of this circuit ...

Now, for those of you who do not know what the tolerance of an electronic component is, I'll give you a short explanation. When manufacturers produce electronic components of a certain value X, they mark that component as having value X. However, the manufacturing process is not ideal, so if one measures the actual value of the component, it will find that the measured value is not X but rather X+/- a certain percentage T. This percentage is the tolerance (T) of the component. The manufacturers will guarantee that the value of a certain component which belongs to a tolerance class T, will be inside of the [X-T, X+T] interval. Hence each component will be marked with both its value X and its tolerance class T. A typical tolerance value is 5%. However the manufacturers can also produce precision components, with tolerances of 0.5% or even lower, but obviously these components are more difficult to manufacture and hence more expensive. Besides this, the parameters of an electronic component (like the value), will also change function of the parameters of the environment in which that component works. The ambient temperature is usually the worse factor. Manufacturing components which do not change their value with the temperature is usually a very difficult task.

OK, let's come back to our problem. The important thing is that Plextor said that they will be able to fix this problem too, via a firmware update. This will cure all these "sick" drives. However, they pointed out that this is not an easy task which can be done in a week, but they are working hard to release a firmware fix as soon as possible (by the end of August). This firmware fix will also sort out the writing strategies as described at point one.

They also asked me not to recommend people to RMA their drives anymore, as at the moment there is no 100% solution to this problem. This means that the drive you receive can suffer of the same symptoms (like it happened in my case) ... these symptoms could manifest themselves with the same media or with different media... Their advice is to hold on to our units until the end of August when they'll release the firmware fix, and meanwhile to write media only at its advertised speed (e.g. 4x) rather than at the maximum available speed (e.g. 8x). They haven't mentioned what we should do in case we can't write 8x media at 8x ... but I guess we'll have to write it at 4x until we get the firmware fix.

As a pure speculation, it seems to me that each drive is affected more or less ... with some drives crossing the threshold sometimes and behaving badly. It might be that there is quite a significant number of misbehaving drives around, and probably this is why many people regard this drive as being very picky. This would also explain why it took them a week to find a good drive for me... or maybe they were just busy with other things or users

It seems to me that this upcoming firmware fix has the potential of finally transforming this drive into a winner and make us happy! Let's hope so!

Now probably Plextor won't like very much that I've posted this information, but I really think that all the users affected of this "bug" have the right to know what's happening ... It is also in Plextor's interest to come clean on this one, if they care about their existing and new customers, and that's what they did in my case, which deserves to be saluted !!!

In the light of what Plextor is saying now, it should be probably better to hang on with your unit until they'll release the firmware fix ... especially for non-EU people who will actually have to pay to have their drive sent to Plextor. Until the fix comes, write only media which you've found to work well with your unit, or stick with 4x ...

Overall I have to say that their technical support was very good, for which they deserve a big thanks! To be honest, this is the only reason for which I'm still a Plextor customer after all these problems

That's why I've only mildly criticised them in this post ... although as an electronics engineering professional I think that the engineer who designed that particular piece of circuitry should be shot Ups I've said it

Finally, sorry for the length of this post, which I hope it will help quite few people ... there's still hope for the King

(in reply to Deleted User)
Post #: 50
RE: Plextor PX-712A writing quality on several differen... - 7/30/2004 7:46:35 PM   
emperor


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Damn, that was a LONG and DETAILED post...Thumbs up for Plextor, thumbs down for the person who designed the faulty circuitry!!!

I think our review will based at 1.03 firmware, hopefully we can present something real soon.

(in reply to cvs)
Post #: 51
RE: Plextor PX-712A writing quality on several differen... - 8/1/2004 6:57:57 AM   
JeanLuc

 

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Joined: 5/3/2004
From: Germany
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OK, some Info from me ... I use to write to 4x certified media by Verbatim ... these coloured slim-case DVD's are being produced by Taiyo Yuden.

According to your problems, I did a quick test with -R from the series mentioned above. Its ID code reads TYG01 and my 712A will write to it at 8x.

So here are 2 PIPO scans ... see for yourself.

This one was done with a data TYG01 disc written @ 8x:



As you can see, there are no PO failures being reported ... thus the disc is readable without any speeddowns - still I consider this disc as 'marginal' since there is no (or not much) headroom left for further disc degradation.

Here comes a scan done with a data TYG01 (same package as above) disc (same content as above) written @ 6x



As you can see, the disc is perfect ... I think I will wait for the firmware upgrade but one thing keeps me wondering: why in hell doesn't Plextor use a running OPC to ensure write quality ?

EDIT: Typo


< Message edited by JeanLuc -- 8/1/2004 12:59:07 PM >


_____________________________

Plextor PX-716A 1.05 & Premium 1.06
NEC ND2500A, LG 4163B & LG 8400B (on Reserve)
Plextor PX-116A1 and PX-40TSi (onReserve)
LiteOn LTR-52246S (External) & BenQ DW1620 Pro B7U9
LiteOn SOHD-167T 9S19

(in reply to cvs)
Post #: 52
RE: Plextor PX-712A writing quality on several differen... - 8/1/2004 2:15:21 PM   
emperor


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Yes Plextor should run a running OPC to improve writing quality, hopefully the new firmware will fix this


< Message edited by emperor -- 8/2/2004 12:04:36 AM >

(in reply to JeanLuc)
Post #: 53
RE: Plextor PX-712A writing quality on several differen... - 8/1/2004 4:29:26 PM   
Dolphinius_Rex


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quote:

ORIGINAL: emperor

Yes Plextor should run a running OPC to reduce writing quality, hopefully the new firmware will fix this


To reduce writing quality? I don't think they need to do any more of that!


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(in reply to emperor)
Post #: 54
RE: Plextor PX-712A writing quality on several differen... - 8/1/2004 5:04:20 PM   
emperor


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Oops mistyped, now editing text

(in reply to Dolphinius_Rex)
Post #: 55
RE: Plextor PX-712A writing quality on several differen... - 8/1/2004 6:48:16 PM   
JeanLuc

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: cvs

But there are good news in store for us ... Plextor is currently working hard on a new firmware release which will adapt the writing strategy to the quality of the media. I expect this new firmware will be a significant improvement over current firmwares and it will even bring back the King's "lost" crown


Well ... from what I know, you cannot implement some kind of "software running opc" ... you must have hardware at your disposal that is able to perform the task of "reading/analyzing during writing" ... so if Plextor states that they can fix the "fluctuating media quality issue" with a firmware upgrade, I must therefore assume that the 712A is well capable of performing a running OPC (e.g. like BenQ does).

If the 712A is capable of doing so, I must furthermore ask myself why Plextor did not implement this function right from the start ... or do you want to tell me that they have thrown one hell of an expensive drive on the market without proper and thorough development ? That's the kind of behaviour I would expect from LiteOn (I did own a crappy 411S myself), not from Plextor.


_____________________________

Plextor PX-716A 1.05 & Premium 1.06
NEC ND2500A, LG 4163B & LG 8400B (on Reserve)
Plextor PX-116A1 and PX-40TSi (onReserve)
LiteOn LTR-52246S (External) & BenQ DW1620 Pro B7U9
LiteOn SOHD-167T 9S19

(in reply to cvs)
Post #: 56
RE: Plextor PX-712A writing quality on several differen... - 8/1/2004 7:09:28 PM   
emperor


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JeanLuc, you are are correct, Plextor should had running OPC before those nasty problems, we will try to find more...

(in reply to JeanLuc)
Post #: 57
RE: Plextor PX-712A writing quality on several differen... - 8/1/2004 8:01:09 PM   
cvs


Posts: 50
Joined: 6/17/2004
From: Kent, United Kingdom
Status: offline
quote:

ORIGINAL: JeanLuc
Well ... from what I know, you cannot implement some kind of "software running opc" ... you must have hardware at your disposal that is able to perform the task of "reading/analyzing during writing" ... so if Plextor states that they can fix the "fluctuating media quality issue" with a firmware upgrade, I must therefore assume that the 712A is well capable of performing a running OPC (e.g. like BenQ does).


You're right of course ... but since they said that they'll implement this in a upcoming firmware, we must assume that the hardware support is there ...
Furthermore, if they can also fix via firmware the second problem, regarding the inapropriate writing laser power due to component tolerances, they must be able to correct any such power deviation via software mecanisms ... this will also assume that they must have a feedback loop present ... e.g. some hardware support in reading the laser power already implemented (but not yet used) ...

quote:

If the 712A is capable of doing so, I must furthermore ask myself why Plextor did not implement this function right from the start ... or do you want to tell me that they have thrown one hell of an expensive drive on the market without proper and thorough development ?


I guess this is the question of the month ... maybe some marketing bigshot decided that the unit has to be out by "DD MM 2004", and the design engineers did not have enough time to fully impelement all the features, although the hardware to support such features was there ... if this was the case, then they must have decided to add various bits and pieces later on, after the release date, via firmware updates ...

Unfortunately for the consumers, this happens all the time in the industry ... the competition is so fierce, that they'll do anything they can just to be there, before their competitors ... most of the time this puts the design engineers in an impossible possition ... they just don't have enough time to properly debug the design ... the best they can hope is that they've found all major hardware bugs ... any software bug or smaller hardware bug can usually be fixed in a future firmware update - of course after the release date - which in fact is buying them some more time at the expense of the customers who will in fact act (for free) as beta testers ...

What is puzzling me most, is why this feature wasn't implemented yet! Assumming they did not had the time to implement it by the release date, surely this would have been a top priority, and they shoud have done it in fw1.01 or 1.02 at the latest ... we are at fw1.03 and is still not yet implemented ... if they keep the tradition of releasing a new fw each month, fw1.04 should be here in few days (most likely still without this feature) and we'll have to wait until the end of August for the fw fix to be completed, (probably fw1.05) so we can finally benefit from this feature which should have been there from the start!!!

Meanwhile, some of us still cannot properly use their drives, even at this late stage in the life of the unit, and of course, already this unit is becoming obsolete with the new 16x and 4x DL units already comming ... I don't even have a strong enough word to describe this situation! APPALING will be probably way too mild!

(in reply to JeanLuc)
Post #: 58
RE: Plextor PX-712A writing quality on several differen... - 8/2/2004 3:23:22 AM   
JeanLuc

 

Posts: 116
Joined: 5/3/2004
From: Germany
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quote:

ORIGINAL: cvs

Meanwhile, some of us still cannot properly use their drives, even at this late stage in the life of the unit, and of course, already this unit is becoming obsolete with the new 16x and 4x DL units already comming ... I don't even have a strong enough word to describe this situation! APPALING will be probably way too mild!


That's why I voted against dual layer right from the start ... In my opinion, development is way too fast at the moment so quality MUST suffer as a direct result. I am not a speed fanatic that overspeeds media (in terms of choosing non-certified write speeds) whenever possible so this Plextor problem does not bother me that much because it produced perfect discs at CLV speeds of 4x and 6x (which is what cvs mentioned, too).

Another fact that bothers me is why Plextor now blames the electronic components for out-of-spec tolerance values ... at the price people are willing to pay for a Plextor drive (usually some 1,5x compared to e.g. LG), they really should justify their price policy by using low-tolerance (0,5%) components right from the start (at least, I would expect them to do so alongside with calling themselves the 'King Of Quality').

From what I also know, final drive calibration data (and thus drive fine tuning) is not stored in the drive's firmware itself but in it's EEPROM (if present) ... I now begin to wonder if the 712A has an EEPROM if cvs really received a 'hand-picked' unit since Plextor could always re-calibrate a given drive if an EEPROM would be present ... there simply would be no need for 'hand-picking' a unit (after all, an optical drive is an item of mass-production, not a hand-made swiss watch).

From the two scans I posted I do assume that there is another problem ... I did notice that the error rates rise with the drive switching to 8x - since the 712A is Plextor's first P-CAV DVD recorder IIRC, I think they have a problem with adapting the writing strategy after the speed sweep from 6x to 8x ... see for yourself:





_____________________________

Plextor PX-716A 1.05 & Premium 1.06
NEC ND2500A, LG 4163B & LG 8400B (on Reserve)
Plextor PX-116A1 and PX-40TSi (onReserve)
LiteOn LTR-52246S (External) & BenQ DW1620 Pro B7U9
LiteOn SOHD-167T 9S19

(in reply to cvs)
Post #: 59
RE: Plextor PX-712A writing quality on several differen... - 8/10/2004 2:51:20 PM   
bubba_op

 

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(in reply to emperor)
Post #: 60
[Deleted] - 8/10/2004 3:19:17 PM   
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(in reply to bubba_op)
  Post #: 61
RE: Plextor PX-712A writing quality on several differen... - 8/10/2004 4:06:21 PM   
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What i have noticed with the new firmware is that reduced a lot the recognition time of DVD-R media

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Post #: 62
RE: Plextor PX-712A writing quality on several differen... - 8/11/2004 10:04:02 AM   
bubba_op

 

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I updated with the new 1.04 firmware yesterday. However the write speed for Ridata 8x media is only 2.4x at best. Very dissapointing to say the least.

(in reply to emperor)
Post #: 63
RE: Plextor PX-712A writing quality on several differen... - 8/11/2004 10:44:16 AM   
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what is the media ID code for Ridata?

(in reply to bubba_op)
Post #: 64
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