Plextor's 708A 8X DVD+R/RW Drive - HotHardware

Plextor's 708A 8X DVD+R/RW Drive

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The Plextor PX-708A 8x DVD+R/RW Drive
Plextor fulfills the need for speed!

By Robert Maloney
December 28th, 2003

 

Quality and Installation of the Plextor PX-708A
It's as clear as black and white

         
         


The first package to arrive in the labs was the beige model, and while we were quite interested in its capabilities, we were otherwise dismayed at the idea of taking pictures of yet another drive of the same color.  True, the glossy black striping under the tray broke up the monotony, but we were hoping to add this to a customized case.  Anybody who has tried painting an optical drive to match their case can attest that they just don't look the same when the new coat of paint has dried.  So, it was to our pleasant surprise that a black bezel model was added to Plextor's product list as we were preparing this review.  On a completely aesthetic level, when comparing the two drives, we just loved the look of black on black, with the silver decals.  Both drives utilize a black disc tray, which Plextor claims minimizes jitter and reduces C1 error rates by reducing optical distortion of the laser beam.  

         

The front panel is fully populated, with an Eject button, LED indicator, headphone jack and associated volume control wheel knob.  The eject button has an obvious effect in that it ejects the tray, but it also has an additional purpose.  Holding the button down for 3 seconds when inserting a DVD-Video disc that has CSS (Content Scrambling System copy protection) will allow the drive to SpeedRead the disc.  The LED indicator uses various methods for relaying the drive's state to the user.  For example, solid yellow is shown when reading a disc, blinking amber when writing (with the blinking rate indicative of the writing speed), and green when the drive is at standby or when utilizing the Buffer Underrun Proof technology.  Unlike some past Plextor drives, the tray slides in and out quickly, and feels firm when a disc is placed into it.  Also, a small emergency eject hole is placed above and to the left of the eject button.  Using the provided tool, the tray can be manually pulled out to remove discs that are not being read properly or are otherwise jammed.  In general, one should only use this as a last resort, and care should be taken when pulling the drive tray out. 

         

The back of the PX-708A has exactly the same layout that just about all optical drives use.  On the left side, there are two sets of pins.  A two-pin set used to output a digital stereo signal for audio cards with S/PDIF or Digital-in connections, and a more common four-pin set for analog stereo signals.  The jumper cap on the mode jumper pins is used to designate the drive as master or slave, or to use cable select.  Master is set as the default, and it's recommended to leave this configuration.  The final two connectors are used for attaching an IDE cable from and 4-pin MOLEX power plug.  Also of note were four slots cut into the metal casing.  These are used for ventilation of the inner components of the drive, preventing unwanted build-up of heat and possibly condensation on the lens.

The drive can be mounted either horizontally or vertically, although most cases will have the setup shown above.  In a typical case, the drive would be mounted into an open 5 1/4" bay, using the four mounting screws to attach the drive to the chassis.  The user's manual covers a number of scenarios depending on the number and type of drives already in the system.  In our example, we have the hard drive as the Master on IDE channel 1, and the Plextor PX-708A as the Master on IDE channel 2, using the ribbon cable in the package.  As we mentioned earlier, the jumper cap is already set to Master, so this can be left as is.  The bundled audio cable should be suitable for most users, and should be run from the drive to an audio-in or CD-in connector on a sound card or a motherboard with built-in audio.  Finally, find an unused Molex connector from the power supply, and plug this into the power connector, aligning the shape of the plug with the connector.  Out of all the hardware upgrades you could perform, adding or replacing an optical drive is one of the quickest and simplest jobs to do.

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