Plextor PX-504A DVD+R/RW CD-R/RW
Price: £160 at time of writing
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Use: Allows you to backup to DVD discs, make your own movies.
DVD Writers are now finally more affordable than ever. Although they have been around for a few years now the drives and media would cost you a small fortune. Now you can get a writer from £150 although the speeds for this price are likely to be lower.
This drive comes from Plextor. Plextor are well known for producing high quality and faultless drives although they are normally slightly more expensive than other brands the build quality of the products and the extra warranty make me choose Plextor whenever possible.
With CD Writers their are two formats a CDR and the CDRW. With DVD Writing there are currently four formats backed by various companies and groups all trying to make their preferred started the standard for all drives.
The formats are:
DVDR / DVD RW, DVD+R +W & DVD RAM
This drive only supports DVD+R & DVD+RW media.
|CD-ROM + CD-DA||*||*||*||*|
|CD-ROM + CD-DA|
What you get:
The unit is almost identical to the other Plextor CDRW models, the only real noticeable difference is that this unit comes with a black strip across the front of the tray. For those
The tray is black this is supposed to reduce the amount of light
The front of the unit has the Eject / Loading button to the left of that are the logos and to the left of that the hole which allows you to eject the tray without having to turn the pc backon. Further left you have a green activity light as well as a volume control and a headphone socket.
Built into the unit is a 2MB buffer and Buffer underrun technology which means that you can use your system whilst it is burning by the technology avoiding underrun errors. Also built in is PowerRectechnology which allows for a high quality recording.
On the rear of the unit you have the Digital & Analog audio out connectors, then the jumper pins, then the IDE connector and finally the power connector.
I used this drive in various ways to try and get a good general idea on overall performance.
CD Burning: I used the drive to burn a few CD's, without any problems and the speed was still 'acceptable'. Although this drive is only 16x CDR this isnt going to be your main reason your buying it so faster speeds are a tad overkill at the moment.
I burned a 570MB Audio CD in 4mins 35sec - which isn't too shaby at all.
4.4GB of data took 23mins to burn onto a dvd+r disc.
DVD+RW - CDRW's never really appealed to me, i didnt like the time they took to format and the capcitry that was left once the disc was formated was often 500MB or so. These DVD+RW discs were the first thing i used mainly as i was waiting for more DVD+R discs to arrive.
Firstly I decided to take a backup of some files these included emails and document folders the total size of the files were just under 1.1GB. Iinserted the disc and followed the prompts in Nero, just over 7mins later after the drive was doing its thing at 2.4x out came a perfect backup.
I then tested the disc through the drive to check that the files opened ok. That alone in my opinion is a great feature as i am one of the people who doesnt backup anywhere near often enough, with this its easy to drag what you want to copy up to 4.7GB worth and then un under 30 mins you have your data burned. Of course the added benifit of using these +RW discs is you can easily use them again for the next time.
DVD+R - From a backup point of view I think DVD+R can play a important role. If you have ever had to format your system unexpectidly and one of those who always put off backing up then why dont you image your system... There are serveral programs around which allow you to make a image of your drive and burn it to CD / DVD.
With this once you have your OS, drivers, updates, office, mp3 collection etc installed you often have 2GB - 4GB of applications which are tweaked to your prefrence. Imaging to CD media is a popular option but this will mean using serveral discs, using a DVD+R allows you to burn the whole image to a disc so just in the event of a problem you can quickly be running again from the image.
The software I used to make a image of my drive was Acronis TrueImage
This programme doesnt come with the drive so it would incur a additional fee. It was easy to use, and took about 15mins to examine my system and generatea boot CD as well as be ready to burn the image.
Nero CDSpeed - Audio CD
Sisoftware Sandra - Disc Read
Nero DVD Speed
PlexTools - Information
Backing up a DVD movie:
After experiemneting with the drive for a few days I decided it was time I looked into backing up a DVD or two. some brief online research led me to beleive some methods could be time consuming. I had no wish to read the disc to my system then encode it to a writeable format, mainly as when I did this some time ago encoding through apps such as FlaskMpeg took around 12-14hrs and then the quality could be hit or miss depending on your settings.
A program I came across online was DVD X CopyT XPRESS after looking into the product further I paid the fee and downloaded the file. 5 mins later I was ready to use it.
Inserted the disc I wanted to backup in my DVD ROM drive and inserted a DVD+R into the Plextor drive two clicks later and off it went, I was given the option to read it first or copy direct. Using the direct method it completed the backup in under 30mins. Using the +RW discs it took slightly longer at around the 45-50min mark but either way thats still fast in my opinion.
Playback of the discs in my standalone DVD player was good, this programme just backups up the main part of the disc no extras. The picture and sound quality was amazingly good, you would be quite hard pressed to notice the difference if you hadnt used this software before.
You get extensive software with the drive so you may wise to explore these applications fully first before you purchase additional software.
Great software quick and easy to use.
Nero: The ever popular Nero from Ahead allows newbies and the more advanced to easily select what disc they want to make or backup.
INCD: - Also from Ahead. InCD is an integrated packet writing solution, full compatibility across all Windows operating systems. Packet writing is the method of writing data in small increments (by packets) onto a rewritable media such as CDRW, DVD+RW, DVD RW.
Pinnicle Studio - Pinnacle Studio delivers everything you need to make fantastic digital movies on your PC, in one easy to use package. Allows you to capture and output from and to most analogue and digital sources, and provides sophisticated software editing and effect tools.
PowerDVD XP - Cyberlinks PowerDVD XP is the latest evolution of the world acclaimed DVD software program that offers maximum video and audio playback entertainment on the PC. It comes complete with numerous customizable video/audio controls that can deliver the highest quality viewing and listening experience.
Plextors PlexTools is a in-house written utility has proven to be stable, precise and useful. It offers high quality audio and multimedia capabilities and advanced control of several powerful features of Plextor drives. The distinctive design allows ease of use for newcomers without compromising on the powerful features that experienced burners demand.
This drive is a great unit from a well known highly regarded company. I was slightly disappointed with some of the benchmark results being slightly under the quoted speeds but this still performs excedingly well and the software that comes with it is vast and puts other vendors in the shade.
The 4x +R speed performs well and produces great results, the +RW which writes at 2.4x is still a good speed and allows for backups or data to be written relaitivly quickly and performs well.
Price wise it is slightly more expensive when compared to some of its rivals but in my experience Plextor's drives are always that little bit more but they have never let me down yet and I also think of the 2 Year On-Site Collect & Return Warranty, most makers state 1 year and often that can mean you having to return the drive to them.
Plextors tag line is 'King Of Quality' I couldn't agree more they are ventrans of the CDR/RW market and are often referred to as the ones to beat. All of my products and people I know who have bought Plextor products can not fault them.
Great product, performed well and from well known maker.