Plextor First With 18x DVD±RW - Is it worth it?

Article Index
Plextor First With 18x DVD±RW - Is it worth it?
Drive and Test Info
DVD Read and Write Performance
Final Thoughts and Conclusion

Product: Plextor PX-760A DVD±RW
Provided By: Plextor America
Price: ~ $150CDN @ Pricegrabber.ca

Introduction:

DVD-ROM drives have been around for many years, and when 16x drives came out the promise and hope of reading and ripping DVD's at faster speeds was thrilling.  My first 16x DVD-ROM was a Toshiba drive and it rocked.  16x is the fastest speed we've seen for years, and with spindle speeds of over 9,000 rpm and data transfer rates of 22.16MB/sec, the ATA33 bus is getting pretty limited.  DVD Writing is another story.  I received my first 4x DVD+R drive back when 4x writing was "blistering" fast.  We've seen the gradual increase in maximum writing speeds, but these speed increases yield diminishing returns.  While 8x is almost twice as fast as 4x, 16x drives are not twice as fast as 8x drives.

Today we are looking at Plextor's new PX-760A drive.  This drive was delayed some 3 months to improve writing quality and to make sure that it was indeed capable of 18x DVD±R writing.  Plextor has decided to bundle this as a Premium drive, and they ship it with full support for PlexTools Pro.  This is a bonus for sure and makes the drive worth some of the extra money for 18x writing.

PX-760A - Box
 PX-760A - Box

In this review we are going to be focusing primarily on DVD writing speed and quality.  We will touch on CD reading and writing to make sure that it can do what needs to be done, but our thrust will be on writing quality and speed when it comes to writing DVD's.  The common conception is that the faster a drive writes media, the poorer the quality.  If that is true, 18x disks could be pretty flaky.  We'll find out.

Even with the delay, Plextor has been the first to market with this 18x drive.  I see that Samsung has a drive planned as well, and I'm sure that other manufacturers will follow.

The Drive & Software:

The PX-760A drive ships in a rather large box and includes enough gear to get you going.  Plextor includes an 80-pin IDE cable, a beige face-plate as well as the installed black face-plate.  They also include a 16x Verbatim DVD+R that should be capable (I hope) of 18x speeds.  Also included is a bag of screws, an emergency eject tool, as well as a quick install guide and the software DVD.

PX-760A - Bundle

The software DVD has Plextor's standard fare of applications.  They have included Roxio's Easy CD/DVD Creator 7 as well as CinePlayer (think PowerDVD).  Also included on the disk is PlexTools Pro 2.32a and Dantz Retrospect Backup Trial.  There is also a User Guide and Manual in PDF form available as well as Adobe Acrobat Reader if you need it.  Overall, the software bundle is very adequate, and while I'd like to see Nero 7, Roxio actually does the job well enough.

Software Install
Software Install

Closer Look:

Some manufacturers are going for a minimalist design when it comes to their drives.  Even Plextor seems to ride both horses on this issue.  For instance the PX-716AL Slot Load DVDRW drive we looked at back in September had absolutely no logo's or identifying marks on the front of the drive.  In stark contrast is the PX-760A.  Plextor has decorated this drive with a plethora of logos.  They boast AutoStrategy, DVD+R DL, DVD+RW, DVD-R/RW and UltraSpeed CD capabilities.  They also include the company logo and model of the drive.  I guess they wanted people to know who made this unit.  We'll find out if Plextor has a product they can be proud of later on.

PX-760A - Front View
 PX-760A - Front View

PX-760A - Back View
 PX-760A - Back View

PX-760A - Label
PX-760A - Label

The back of the PX-760A has plenty of ventilation holes which may be required as this drive hits never-before-seen spindle rotation when writing DVD disks.  Aside from that, the back is fairly plain.  Molex, IDE, Jumpers, Audio Connector and SPIDF connector pretty much sum up the back side of this drive.

As you'll notice in the last picture on the right, the drive is manufactured in March 2006.  I received this drive on April 7 so this drive is fairly fresh.  It is also a second hardware revision of the PX-760A as indicated by the TLA#.  It is a #0001 unit instead of the #0000 units that we often receive.  This can be a good thing as some of the bugs may be worked out.


Drive Specs & Features:

  • Double layer allows you to record up to 4 hours of high-quality MPEG-2/DVD video on a 8.5 GB disc
  • AUTOSTRATEGY Writing technology for unknown media with uneven quality.
  • 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 - 2MB
  • Achieves 18x write performance with recommended 16x DVD±R media
  • Support DVD+RW background format
  • Support DVD±VR format for direct disc recording
  • Horizontal or vertical mounting orientation
  • Replaceable black front bezel included
  • OS Support - Windows® /2000/XP™/XP Professional x64
  • One-year full warranty (parts and labor)

It's good to see that Plextor has made sure the PlexTools Pro works under Windows x64 as well as other versions of windows.  I was a bit surprised to see that Plextor has dropped their 8MB buffer on this drive.  Traditionally "Premium" drives have shipped with an 8MB buffer instead of the 2MB buffer, but in reality this makes no difference when writing at speeds over 22MB/sec.  Even an 8MB buffer would be empty in less that half a second.  Today's burning software manages the write buffer good enough.

Drive Specs
Drive Specs

Head on over to the next page as we take a look at the drive itself, our test rig, and some performance.