Plextor PX-708A DVD Drive



Multifunction DVD writers are now taking the main stage when it comes to optical drives. Multifunction DVD drives are able to write on both + and – media which makes them very useful. Not only do multifunction DVD writers do both DVD formats but they also burn CD-R and CD-RW making them that much more impressive.

Plextor CD-R/RW drives were introduced in 1998 so they have been making drives now for 6 years which gives them quite a bit of experience. Plextor has long been known for being on the forefront of technology and producing quality and reliable products. In the past I have reviewed Plextor’s PlexWriter 40/12/40A CDRW drive and PX-504A DVD+RW drive. I was very impressed with both of the afore mentioned drives and can’t wait to see what this drive can do.

BURN Proof
“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.

Lossless Linking
This technology is the property of Philips and used in Plextors new DVD±RW drives. Below is a direct quote from the Philips website explaining what this technology does.

“In the DVD+RW Video format, video can be encoded with a variable bit-rate (VBR). Because the writing process takes place at a constant bit rate, the writing process needs to be suspended and continued frequently. Normally, this would result in a linking loss, making the disc incompatible with read-only devices like DVD Video players and DVD-ROM drives. With DVD+RW it is possible to perform lossless linking, i.e. to suspend and continue the writing process without linking loss. This feature makes the format very efficient and suitable for random write in data as well as video applications. Additionally, lossless linking makes it possible to replace any individual 32 kB block (recording unit) by a new one, without losing compatibility. For lossless linking it is necessary to write any data block in the correct position with high accuracy (within I micron). For this purpose the groove is mastered with a high wobble frequency (817 kHz at n= I), which ensures that the writing can be started and stopped at an accurately defined position. The writing clock as obtained from this groove is very accurate. At the same time, address information is stored in this wobbled groove by locally inverting the sign of the wobbled waveform. For each ECC block, which is 32 kB, four addresses exist, resulting in a reliable address format with large detection margins.”

The Plextor PX-708A boats an impressive amount of highly desired attributes. This drive is able to burn DVD+R (8x), DVD+RW (4x), DVD-R (4x), DVD-RW (2x), CD-R (40x), CD-RW (24x) and read at 40x. All of these speeds are just about the fastest on the market right now and this drive has been out for a while now. Plextor has a reputation of being one of first companies to release new products as soon as they are ready while the competition tries to keep up.

Data Transfer Rate
Z-CLV and CLV write/CAV read and CLV read

Sustained DVD Read/Write Speeds
8X (DVD+R only)
4X (DVD+/-R,+RW only)
2.4X (DVD+R/RW only)
2X (DVD-R/RW only)
5X-12X (DVD read only)
3X-8X (DVD read only)
2X-5X (DVD read only)
2X (DVD read only)

Sustained CD Read/Write Speeds
40X (CD write only)
32X (CD write only)
24X (CD rewrite only)
17X-40X (CD read only)
16X (CD write only)
14X-32X (CD read only)
10X (CD read only)
10X (CD rewrite only)
8X (CD read/write)
4X (CD write/rewrite/read)

Burst Read/Write
33 MB/sec (Ultra DMA Mode 2)
16.6 MB/sec (PIO Mode 4/DMA Mode 2)

Recommended media
Because DVD media is still somewhat new the compatibility is not like that of CDRW drives. There are only so many brands out there and only so many work well until new firmware is released. This drive should have no problem with any CDRW media however I would stick to what they recommend when it comes to DVD media. You can always try different DVD media and in most cases it will work just fine.

Media type Speed Brand
DVD+R (4.7 GB)
CD-R (74 min or 80 min)
CD-RW (74 min)
8X, 4X, 2.4X
4X, 2.4X
Verbatim/Mitsubishi Chemical, Taiyo Yuden, Ricoh
Verbatim/Mitsubishi Chemical, Ricoh
Verbatim/Mitsubishi Chemical, Taiyo Yuden, Maxell, TDK
Verbatim/Mitsubishi Chemical, TDK, Victor
Verbatim/Mitsubishi Chemical, Taiyo Yuden, Maxell
Verbatim/Mitsubishi Chemical, Taiyo Yuden, Mitsui Chemicals, Ricoh, Maxell
Verbatim/Mitsubishi Chemical
Verbatim/Mitsubishi Chemical, Ricoh