Plextor Goes Slot-Load DVD±RW

Article Index
Plextor Goes Slot-Load DVD±RW
Test Setup and Media Info
CD Read and Write Performance
DVD Read and Write Performance
Final Thoughts and Conclusion

Product: Plextor PX-716AL DVD±RW
Provided By: Plextor America
Price: ~$185CDN @ Pricegrabber

Introduction:

It's been a while since I've taken a look at a Plextor DVD±RW drive, so I was kind of interested in looking at their new Slot-Load DVD±RW drive when it was released a few months ago.  Things got behind here, so I haven't been able to evalute this unit until lately.  Plextor has pushed the envelope with this product as it is the first half-height slot-load DVD±RW on the market.  This may not be gravy for everyone as this drive cannot use 3.5" 'mini' DVD's or CD's.  If you don't use those, or don't intend to - read on, as this drive has some pretty nifty features.

This drive is not the fastest drive on the market today, but it comes darn close.  It can read and write DVD's at 16x, write DVD+RW's at 8x and DVD-RW's at 4x.  It can also read and write CD-R's at 48x and write CD-RW's at a speedy 24x.  It can also handle you Dual Layer DVD±R's at 6x.  Plextor's "budget" PX-740A can actually write Dual Layer DVD±R's at 8x, but it lacks the professional features of this drive. 

Drive & Software:

As I mentioned previously, this is Plextor's slot-load DVD±RW.  Unfortunately the slot load feature is not as "sexy" as Pioneers slot-load DVD-ROMs of years gone by.  The slot seems out of place, and is not really accentuated as it could be.  It's not a bad looking drive, and if fact looks awesome in a black tower, but it could be a bit better looking.

Front & Back Views
 Front & Back View

Label with MF Date
 Label with MF Date

Due to some technical difficulties with the first unit I received, I had to snag another unit from Plextor to actually finish this review.  The first unit is the one pictured above, manufactured in May 2005 with the TLA# 0000.  This drive refused to read or write CD's at 48x.  The highest it could achieve under any situation with any media was 40x.  After talking to Plextor Engineer Bob Smith, I received one next day from California by way of FedEx.  I wasn't expecting this kind of replacement service, but I sure appreciate it.  The unit I'm reviewing today was manufactured in June 2005 with a TLA# 0100.

This drive is not intended for use in today's mainstream computers.  This drive is touted as a drive for photo and media kiosks, and as such ships in a brown box - originally with no software.  As many enthusiasts and average consumers liked the idea of a slot-load drive, Plextor has since increased the package to include Roxio's Easy Media Creator 7.  It's very unfortunate that they don't also include Plextools Pro, as this drive has the ability to be adjusted with this very powerful software.  Unless you already own a drive that came with Plextools Pro, the only way you can use VariRec, PoweRec, SecuRec, GigaRec and other features, is to head on over and purchase PlexTools.  That's a pretty chincy of Plextor in my opinion and deserves some re-evaluation as this drive is a quality drive and deserves better software representation.

As I previously mentioned the software that ships with this drive is pretty sparse, but it is enough to get you going and even authoring some DVDs.

Software Installation
Software Installation

As you can see, the unit I received includes Roxio 7, DVD Max (Cyberlink PowerDVD), and a 30-day trial of Retrospect Backup.  Quite bare considering the near $200CDN price tag for the drive.  Let's hope that performance makes up for it.


Specs & Features:

Before we head on to the testing information and actual product testing, we should take a look and see what Plextor claims this drive can do, and then we'll find out how well it can do it.

Below are the "Total Solution Features" as taken from the Plextor website:

  • DVD Double/Dual layer allows you to record up to 4 hours of high-quality MPEG-2/DVD video on a 8.5 GB disc
  • Intelligent Recording Technology supported for recording at high-quality and optimum speed
  • AUTOSTRATEGY®. Writing technology for unknown media with uneven quality.
  • Intelligent Tiltâ„¢ Precise laser control via liquid crystal and three-dimensional tilt adjustment for uneven disc surfaces.
  • PoweRec® technology is a sophisticated write strategy providing superior quality recording at maximum speed for your chosen media
  • Buffer Underrun Proof Technology prevents buffer underrun errors
  • Buffer Memory - 8MB
  • Achieves 16x write performance with recommended 8x DVD±R media
  • Support DVD+RW background format
  • Support DVD±VR format for direct disc recording
  • Black front bezel
  • Short drive length for small form factor PC
  • Failsafe mechanism to retrieve discs in the event of a failure
  • OS Support - Windows® 98SE/Me/2000/XPâ„¢
  • One-year full warranty (parts and labor)

Notice that they don't list the GigaRec, SecuRec, and VariRec features.  This drive is capable of these features, but requires Plextools Pro or Plextools XL to be used.  Because they don't include the software, they don't list the features.

This drive is capable of some pretty decent performance - at least the numbers say so.

Data Transfer Rate CAV, PCAV, CLV write/ CAV read and CLV Read
Sustained Read/Write Speeds DVD 16X (read/write) 9.28 - 22.16 MB/sec
  12X (read/write) 8.31 - 16.62 MB/sec(write)
6.92 - 16.62 MB/sec(read)
  8X (read/write) 8.31 - 11.08 MB/sec(write)
4.70 - 11.08 MB/sec(read)
  6X (write only) 8.31 MB/sec
  5X (read only) 2.90 - 6.92 MB/sec
  4X (write only) 5.54MB/sec
  2.4X (write only) 3.32 MB/sec
  2X (read/write) 2.77 MB/sec
  1X (write only) 1.38 MB/sec
Sustained Read/Write Speeds CD 48X (read/write) 3.18 - 7.2 MB/sec
  40X (read/write) 6.0 MB/sec
  32X (read/write) 3.18 - 4.8 MB/sec(write)
2.17 - 4.8 MB/sec(read)
  24X (read/write) 3 - 3.6 MB/sec
  16X (write only) 2.4 MB/sec
  10X (write only) 1.5 MB/sec
  4X (read/rewrite/write) 600 KB/sec
Burst Read/Write 66 MB/sec (Ultra DMA Mode-4); 16.6 MB/sec (Pio Mode 4/DMA Mode-2)
Typical CD Random Access <100 MS Typical DVD Random Access <150 MS
Buffer 8 MB
Error Rate Mode 1: block/10^12 bits
Mode 2: block/10^9 bits

 

Head on over to the next page to see the test setup, a bit more about this drive and we'll start testing.