Plextor PX-504A DVD-ROM Drive Review

plextor-dvd-rom

Introduction

This is the second optical drive that I have reviewed, the first was a Plextor PlexWriter 40/12/40A which I was very impressed by. DVD burners have become very popular recently with all of the major companies coming out with their own. This particular drive uses a DVD+RW format which was designed by the DVD+RW Alliance to be used to store both video and data for PC and home entertainment applications.

The DVD+RW format is backwards compatible which means it can be read by most DVD-ROM drives. The differences between DVD+R and DVD-R drives are not very many however there are some features which are native to DVD+RW only. One such feature of the DVD+RW format is Mount Rainier (DVD+MRW) drag-and-drop file access support planned for Windows Longhorn. This feature is not available with this drive however it will become more widely available over time.

“Buffer-UnderRuN-Proof Technology” was patented by Sanyo Electric Co. to prevent Buffer UnderRuns. BURN-Proof™ is accomplished by a combination of drive hardware, firmware, and supported writing software. This technology makes it possible for the user to write and multitask on their PC, where previously they could not. Lower performance PCs benefit by being able to perform high-speed recording, and do not have to suspend their work, close applications, or remove network connectivity when they are recording.

PoweRec technology is something relatively new from Plextor. PoweRec stands for Plextor Optimized Writing Error Reduction Control. PoweRec identifies the media when it is inserted and compares it to a list of media stored in the firmware.

The firmware includes a large database of supported media. This database includes a lot of information about the media including its maximum speed. Because Plextor can’t test all media and include it in the firmware they have added another solution.

The drive will run a Optical Power Calibration test, which checks the characteristics and current conditions of the media which will decide the best laser power and speed for the media. The drive will also monitor the media on the fly while it is writing to ensure the best data transfer possible.

Plextor has taken the original PoweRec technology and made it even better. PoweRec II adds the ability to test the write quality of the zone it has completed. If the drive feels the write quality was good enough, it will increase the speed and laser power and continue writing. If not, the drive will continue writing at the same speed.

VariRec lets users adjust the laser power for discs that allow for some manual audio quality. A setting of 0 is what the OPC (Optical Power Calibration) believes the laser power should be for the blank disc you’ve got in the drive. VariRec lets you play with the relative settings of the laser power (-2, -1, 0, +1, +2) so users can do some comparison tests on their high-end audio equipment to find the best setting for the type of media you have on hand.


Specifications

  • Writing DVD:
    4x, 2.4x
  • Writing CD: 16x, 8x, 4x
  • Rewriting DVD: 2.4x
  • Rewriting CD: 10x, 4x
  • Reading DVD: 5x-12x, 3x-7x (CAV), 2x-5x (DVD-Video)
  • Reading CD: 17x-40x
  • DAE: 13x-32x, 4x-10x (CAV), 4x (CLV)
  • Buffer Underrun Proof Technology
  • PoweRec Technology (Plextor Optimized Writing Error Reduction Control)
  • Access Time – 120 ms for CD
  • Access Time – 140 ms for DVD
  • 2MB Buffer
  • E-IDE (ATAPI) interface
  • Compatible with: Windows 9x/ME, Windows 2000/XP
  • MultiRead Compatible
  • Supports SPDIF (Digital Audio Output)
  • High Quality Digital Audio Extraction
  • A black tray, to reduce the jitter and to increase the quality of the burned CD
  • Two year* full-warranty (parts, labor and replacement) with On-Site Collect & Return** service
  • Supports DVD+VR format
  • Wide CD-R and CD-RW media compatibility (74min and Type80 – 79min)
  • Wide range DVD+R/RW media compatibility
  • Includes PlexTools
  • CD Formats: 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
  • DVD Formats: DVD-ROM, DVD-Video, Multi-border (DVD-R/RW), Multi-session (DVD+R/RW), DVD+VR
  • CD Recording Modes: Track-At-Once, Session-At-Once, Disc-At-Once, Multi-session, fixed and Variable-Packet-Write
  • DVD Recording Modes: Random Access Write, Sequential Write, Disc-At-Once

The drive came flashed with v1.00 of the firmware but I went to the Plextor website and found that v1.01 had been released. I downloaded the utility, ran it, and flashed the firmware. The process only took about 30 seconds and I had no problems at all. Once the flash was done it prompted me to reboot my computer. Note: If you are going to flash your optical drive be sure to disable any other ones in your device manager to prevent any damage.