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My first CD writer was top of the range at the time I bought it. It was a Ricoh MP6210s, 2xWrite 1x Re-write 6xRead. I have finally given in and decided it was time to get a new CD writer. So I have spent hours doing some research as I normally do before buying anything and I have decided that this was the drive for me. Read on to find out why I chose this one(Internal Model)...
Plextor is known to produce products aimed at users who want high quality, and accept nothing but the best. They have been around for a long time and have won many awards for best-selling products. Their products have a comprehensive list of features and are known to be high-end performers.
The Plextor 12/10/32S has been out for a while now (since 2000) and at the time of writing this opinion, this model is the latest offering using the SCSI interface. They also have an identical IDE (Atapi) model, PX-W1210A and the lastest offering using this interface is the Plextor 24/10/40S. The market is really hotting up at the moment with the likes of Ricoh MP9200A (20/10/40, DVD 12xRead), Sanyo CRD-BP1500P (24/10/40), TDK Cyclone (20/10/40), Yamaha CRW2200E (20/10/40). The current speed kings are all IDE CD writers, so why did I buy a SCSI model when it is slower?
There should be no real difference to the end-user between IDE and SCSI CD writers so my choice to choose SCSI was a personal one. I would have bought the Plextor 24/10/40S, but I have too many IDE devices so I try to avoid it if possible. I have a DVD-ROM drive and 4 harddisks totalling 5 IDE devices! I had 6 until recently and I can have up 8 in total as I have a UDMA66 Controller. I felt that my IDE bus could easily get bogged down with so many IDE devices and since I only had another CD writer and scanner on my SCSI bus, it seemed natural to go with SCSI. For those that don't know, IDE transfers data in serial mode (taking turns), while SCSI does it in parallel. Also, SCSI is supposed to be more reliable than IDE, but whether it really makes a difference, I don't know. Enough babbling now and onto the review of the Plextor... ---- I purchased my Plextor 12/10/32S from http://www.dabs.com as it was the cheapest I could find at £189. Dabs also sell the 16/10/40A for £138. These are prices for retail products and not OEM. The contents of the box include:
This is a good selection of software and with it you can make any kind of CD you want. You will probably use WinOnCD for most CD writing purposes as it is a fairly complete solution. This is a good software package, but comes second to Ahead's Nero burning ROM which is more user-friendly. Head to http://www.ahead.de for more information on that. Additional software is available free on Plextor's support site.
-- RAW and MMC/SubChannel data -- CDR/RW 74/80/90 minutes (89mins maximum usuable) - Write modes -- Track at Once -- Session at Once -- Disc at Once -- Multisession -- Packet CD -- Overburn - CD protection reading -- SafeDisc -- SecuROM -- Laserlock - Mini fan at rear
Burnproof technology stops you from making anymore unusable CDs (that can be used as coasters, wall clock-faces, frisbees, etc). In short, when the buffer runs empty and no more data is available to burn to the CD, the laser is paused until the buffer is filled up again and resumes the writing process.
Installation is pretty straight forward and there is a quick-install sheet as well as an install manual. Software manuals come in the electronic format. The maufacturer's default for the SCSI ID is 4 and can be changed using jumper pins. Plugging in a audio-CD digital SPDIF cable may be a bit confusing as there is no indication which way to plug it in since the interface at the rear is clumped together with all the other jumper pins. Referring to the installation documents you can find out which pin is ground. As for the SPDIF cable, which wire is ground, the black or white? I can never remember which is ground so here's a tip! Look at your power supply. Normally there is a diagram stuck onto it showing what colour cable is ground, live, etc. The IDE model does not have this confusion as the digital connector is separated with a bracket around it.
The fan at the back is a nice extra as CD-RW drives can get quite warm. Having screwed and plugged in your drive, start up windows and the drive should automatically be detected. My drive shipped with firmware 1.01 which is the original firmware. The latest firmware available from Plextor's support site is 1.03 and does not have to be upgraded from DOS. Upgrading the firmware is not essential, but I would advise you do it. Information on what is new in software and firmware updates is available on their site as well. CD writing software installation is straight forward.
On the IDE/Atapi model there are two pins which are for reserved use only, located on the far left beside the digital audio interface connector. Putting a jumper on these pins sets the drive to work in UDMA 2 mode (ATA 33). This essentially decreases the CPU usage up to 36%, and if you are having problems reading SubChannel data, then this may help. However, this may NOT be supported by Plextor so do this at your own risk. You may or may not get this working in UDMA2 for yourself as it partly depends on your motherboard capabilities.
I won't go into comparing performance of the drive with others much, but in short reading data CDs is up there with the best of them. When it comes to CD-audio extraction, Plextors are the speed kings. Although the current competition is not very far behind, currently the Plextor 16/10/40A holds the crown for fastest CD-audio extractor. The Plextor 24/10/40A should have identical performance to the 16/10/40A.
Conclusion and additional notes...
If you have room for an IDE device, get the IDE/Atapi version as a comparison of idential drives (12/10/32) shows that the IDE has slightly better performance and are cheaper, but the performance difference really is negligible. SCSI has better reliability (less data transfer errors) and if you really want SCSI, then if you can, I'd recommend you wait as I'm sure they are about to release a new SCSI model. The newer models 16/10/40A and 24/10/40A also have a new feature called PowerREC II. This monitors the quality of the CD media being used throughout the recording process. Recording is started off at a safe speed and incrementally increased to the optimal recording speed that media is capable of. Hopefully, this technology will be featured in all new models. Also new in the 16/10/40A is increased overburning capability - up to 95 minutes. This should be the same or at least better in the 24/10/40A model.
Whenever I buy something for £50 or more, I normally do extensive research as I'm sure there are savings to be made. I also don't like parting with my hard-earned money unless it's something worth buying!
Bastien 07.08.2001 16:55
how come you know so much about it? great op!
TYoung 29.07.2001 03:50
ive been looking for a new CDRW as my Mitusmi 4x 4x 24x is getting a bit to slow for my liking. I enjoyed this read and
has certainly put this product in my brain for when i buy a new one. Thanks for the op. TYoung