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Plextor PX708UF DVD +/- R/RW Drive
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Date: Nov 19, 2003
Section:Storage
Author: HH Editor
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The Plextor PX708UF DVD +/- R/RW Drive - Page 1

 

The Plextor PX-708UF DVD±R/RW Drive
Plextor Thinks Outside the Box

By, Jeff Bouton
November 20, 2003

When it comes to CD/DVD recorders, Plextor has been one of the top choices for a number of years.  While they have been paving the way in this fiercely competitive environment, the industry has evolved and technology improved, so the competition is not too far behind.  While it is commonly stated that "it is lonely at the top", this doesn't quite seem as true as it once was.  Today, there are a number of manufacturers producing CD/DVD burners that can compete on the same level as Plextor in performance and quality, and sometimes price.  So to stay ahead of the pack, Plextor needs to help make sure their drives offer something the others do not.  Through unique features and innovative designs, Plextor has managed to stay ahead of the competition, but there is no time to rest and enjoy the view.

Today we are going to take a look at the latest edition to be added to the Plextor product line, the PX-708UF.  This is the external equivalent to the PX-708A, boasting high speed DVD writing while remaining reliable, efficient and colorful.  With top of the line read and write speeds across the board and a huge array of colors available, the PX-708UF aims to be one bad mammajamma of a burner.
 

Specifications of the Plextor PX-708UF
Plextor Doesn't Play Around!

Specifications:
  • 8-in-1 Combo drive: 8X DVD+R, 4X DVD-R, 4X DVD+RW, 2X DVD-RW, 12X DVD-ROM, 40X CD-R, 24X CD-RW AND 40X CD-ROM
  • Lossless linking technology enables users to perform basic editing tasks directly on the DVD disc
  • Buffer Under Run Proof technology prevents buffer under run errors
  • PoweRec technology is a sophisticated write strategy providing superior quality recording at maximum speed for your chosen media
  • Support DVD+RW background format
  • Support DVD+VR format
  • Horizontal or vertical mounting orientation
  • Black CD tray minimizes jitter
  • OS Support - Windows® 98SE/Me/2000/XP?
  • Mac OS 9.1 or above
  • One-year full warranty (parts and labor)
  • Unlimited toll-free tech support
Minimum Systems Requirements
  • CPU: Pentium® III 700MHz or above
  • HDD 800 MB - 1 GB free space for copying CD to CD image
  • 6 GB free space for DVD authoring RAM 128 MB
  • Monitor Display Resoution 1024 X 768 at 16-bit color
  • OS Support - Windows 98SE/Me/2000/XP?Mac OS 9.1 or above
  • Interface: Dual IEEE 1394 and Hi-Speed USB



The PX-708UF comes with a complete collection of hardware and software to round out the package nicely.  The unit comes with a Quick Reference Guide for easy drive setup while a complete User's Manual covers the drive's functions and software in greater detail.  The package also included a two piece 12V power supply, one FireWire cable and a USB cable.  A u-shaped based unit is included for mounting the PX-708UF in a vertical position to help take up less desk space.  To handle all of the recording tasks on the software side, Plextor offers a number of solutions.  A blue CD is included which includes Roxio Easy CD and DVD Creator 6, PhotoSuite 5 SE, Roxio Drag-to-Disk, Roxio DVD Max and Dantz Retrospect.  What is new to the mix, when compared to previous models, is the inclusion of a Roxio Toast 5 Lite, which can be used for CD recording on the Macintosh platform.

The Plextor PX-708UF came with a fairly complete hardware and software compliment.  They cover all of the bases to give the drive great versatility, with the only thing missing being perhaps a carrying case for easier portability.
 

Quality & Setup of the Plextor PX-708UF
A New Look for an Old Favorite

The Plextor PX-708UF is a sharp looking drive with a clear acrylic appearance.  The front of the drive is simple, with the typical eject, headphone and independent volume control common to most CD/DVD ROM drives.  The CD tray is black which helps the drive maintain accurate, error free recording by absorbing any stray laser information during the writing process.  This works well in combination with other features to help the drive produce perfect burns even at very high speeds.  The drive offers two options for connecting to a PC, USB 2.0 and FireWire.  The rear of the drive sports a USB connection as well as both 4 and 6 wire IEEE1394 connections, with each option providing similar bandwidth.  Between each connection lies the interface selector switch while to the far left a diagnostic switch resides to run the drive through an internal self test if trouble is suspected.

The drive also comes with two RCA outputs for connecting to a PC or other audio component.  We doubt many user's would need to use this feature with a PC, but it could be useful if they wanted to send the audio output to a stereo input.  To help keep things clear, Plextor placed labels on the rear of the drive's shell to clearly designate which connection is which.

Overall, the Plextor PX-708UF is a great looking drive.  The drive is a little large, but not so large that it feels like a hulking mass on our desk.  The added base unit also helps to minimize the amount of valuable desktop space being used.  The only thing left to do is put the drive through a few tests to help get an idea of what to expect in everyday performance.

HH Test System and Benchmarks

 

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The Plextor PX708UF DVD +/- R/RW Drive - Page 2

 

The Plextor PX-708UF DVD±R/RW Drive
Plextor Thinks Outside the Box

By, Jeff Bouton
November 20, 2003

HotHardware Test Systems
It's Snappy

 

DFI KT400A LAN Party Motherboard
AMD AthlonXP 2500+ (Barton)

512MB GEiL PC3500 (2-2-2-5-2)

2 IBM ATA100 7200RPM 80GB HD (RAID-0)

ATi Radeon All-In-Wonder 9600 Pro 128MB

Plextor PX-708UF DVD±R/RW CD-R/RW

Teac DV-W50D DVD±R/RW CD-R/RW

Standard Floppy Drive

Windows XP Professional SP-1

DirectX 9b

ATi Catalyst 3.9

VIA Hyperion 4.49v

Utilities and Media Used For Testing
 

  • SiSoft SANDRA Pro 4

  • Nero InfoTool

  • Nero CD-DVD Speed

  • Nero Burning ROM 6

  • An audio CD 63:33:02 in Length for MP3 Encode Test

  • 4.0GB of AVI files for Sandra DVD Data Tests

  • 4.32GB of MP3 files for Nero DVD Data Tests

  • 698MB AVI file for Sandra CD Data Tests

  • 703MB of MP3 files for Nero CD Data Tests

  • The Patriot on DVD for all DVD Movie Tests

  • Media Used:
    -Maxell 48X CD-R
    -TDK 4x DVD+R

 

To help give us an idea of the PX-708UF's performance, we ran a series of common tests to paint a clear picture.  As with any test, however, without a frame of reference, the results can be somewhat ambiguous.  So we ran the same tests on a Teac DC-W50D dual format drive as a comparison.  We also wanted to note that while the drive supports both FireWire and USB 2.0, we completed all of our tests while connected through USB 2.0.  Before we began testing, we performed several tests while connected using the FireWire connection and the results were the same.
 

 

CD-ROM Performance Tests - Plextor PX-708UF
Speeding Things Along

Nero InfoTool:

Before we get started with the benchmarks, we like to run Nero InfoTool to get a clear idea of a drive's not-so-obvious capabilities.  Like we stated earlier, we also included the results from a Teac DV-W50D merely as a frame of reference.

PLEXTOR PX-708UF
Teac DV-W50D

There are a number of items here that makes the Plextor PX-708UF an attractive drive compared to the competition.  For one is the drive's high speed read/write performance, boasting 40X speeds with both CD-R Read/Write performance vs. the Teac's 32X/16X performance.  The Plextor drive also offers added support for CD+G, commonly used for Karaoke type recording, as well as Mt. Rainier for drag and drop recording with future OSs that support this feature natively.

SiSoft SANDRA Pro 4:

Another utility we like to run is the CD/DVD module within SiSoft Sandra Pro 4.  We ran the module with a CD data disk and DVD data disk to test the read performance capabilities of each drive.

Read Performance - CD Data

PLEXTOR PX-708UF - CD
Teac DV-W50D - CD

Read Performance - DVD Data

PLEXTOR PX-708UF - DVD
Teac DV-W50D - DVD

To achieve accurate CD Data performance testing, Sandra requires a disk be inserted that has very large files on it.  With this test we used a 700MB CD with a 698MB AVI to complete the testing.  In the end, the portable drive bested the internal drive, reaching a peak of 17X vs. 14X with the Teac drive.  With DVD Data performance testing, we used a DVD+R filled with large AVI files as well.  With DVD [performance, the Teac drive maintained the better score, topping out at 20X vs. the Plextor's 15x.  You might also note that there was a major difference in each drive's access times, with the Average Access Time of the Plextor being more than double that of the Teac drive.  If the Plextor drive was an internal CD/DVD burner, there would be cause for concern, but this should not be all that odd for an external drive which has more latency than standard IDE drives.

More Nero Tests

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The Plextor PX708UF DVD +/- R/RW Drive - Page 3

 

The Plextor PX-708UF DVD±R/RW Drive
Plextor Thinks Outside the Box

By, Jeff Bouton
November 20, 2003

CD/DVD Write Tests - Plextor PX-708UF
The Burning Question...

Nero CD-R & DVD+R Write Tests:

The first test we ran was a CD-R write test, recording 703MBs of MP3 music files from the hard drive to Maxell 48X media.  With the DVD+R write test, we recorded 4.42GBs of MP3s onto TDK media rated for 4X.

With CD recording, the Plextor drive managed to complete the task in a little over 3 minutes, burning at a full 40X.  While that seems to be a very good score for CD recording, it's the DVD performance that steals the show.  Even with 4X media inserted in the drive, the Plextor PX-708UF ran the test at a full 8X write speed utilizing their PoweRec technology, completing the task in approximately 8 minutes.  If you thought the CD-R test was impressive, you could burn the same amount of data on a DVD+R in less than a minute and a half!

The Plextor PX-708UF is a quality, high-performance external burner.  In virtually all of the tests the drive kept pace with the internal comparison drive, sometimes running more efficiently and faster.  That isn't to say the drive wasn't without its problems though.  We did find DVD Data testing to be the most taxing of all the tests, causing increased CPU utilization and slower seek times.  Where this may be an issue is with the mobile user who would be concerned with CPU usage affecting battery life.  You may also note that the we did not include any MP3 encoding tests in this review as well.  We found with the PX-7808UF that when we attempted to rip a CD, the fastest the drive would go is 1X, while the Teac drive could hit in excess of 30X.  This is an issue that could quite possibly be rectified with a firmware upgrade and we will let Plextor know about this.

Our overall experience with the Plextor PX-708UF DVD±R/RW CD-R/RW Dual Format Drive was very good.  Much of the drive's performance rivaled an internal drive, while gaining the advantage of portability.  From a price perspective, we've seen the PX-708UF selling at several retailers for approximately $320, roughly $100 more than its internal counterpart, the PX-708A.  Considering the high-end performance and flexibility of USB 2.0, FireWire and dual format DVD recording capabilities, we think this would be money well spent.

We give the Plextor PX-708UF DVD±R/RW CD-R/RW Dual Format Drive a Hot Hardware Heat Meter Rating of a 9.

Discuss This Article in Hardware's PC Hardware Forum!

 

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The Plextor PX708UF DVD +/- R/RW Drive - Page 4

 

The Plextor PX-708UF DVD±R/RW Drive
Plextor Thinks Outside the Box

By, Jeff Bouton
November 20, 2003

CD/DVD Write Tests - Plextor PX-708UF
The Burning Question...

Nero CD-R & DVD+R Write Tests:

The first test we ran was a CD-R write test, recording 703MBs of MP3 music files from the hard drive to Maxell 48X media.  With the DVD+R write test, we recorded 4.42GBs of MP3s onto TDK media rated for 4X.

With CD recording, the Plextor drive managed to complete the task in a little over 3 minutes, burning at a full 40X.  While that seems to be a very good score for CD recording, it's the DVD performance that steals the show.  Even with 4X media inserted in the drive, the Plextor PX-708UF ran the test at a full 8X write speed utilizing their PoweRec technology, completing the task in approximately 8 minutes.  If you thought the CD-R test was impressive, you could burn the same amount of data on a DVD+R in less than a minute and a half!

The Plextor PX-708UF is a quality, high-performance external burner.  In virtually all of the tests the drive kept pace with the internal comparison drive, sometimes running more efficiently and faster.  That isn't to say the drive wasn't without its problems though.  We did find DVD Data testing to be the most taxing of all the tests, causing increased CPU utilization and slower seek times.  Where this may be an issue is with the mobile user who would be concerned with CPU usage affecting battery life.  You may also note that the we did not include any MP3 encoding tests in this review as well.  We found with the PX-7808UF that when we attempted to rip a CD, the fastest the drive would go is 1X, while the Teac drive could hit in excess of 30X.  This is an issue that could quite possibly be rectified with a firmware upgrade and we will let Plextor know about this.

Our overall experience with the Plextor PX-708UF DVD±R/RW CD-R/RW Dual Format Drive was very good.  Much of the drive's performance rivaled an internal drive, while gaining the advantage of portability.  From a price perspective, we've seen the PX-708UF selling at several retailers for approximately $320, roughly $100 more than its internal counterpart, the PX-708A.  Considering the high-end performance and flexibility of USB 2.0, FireWire and dual format DVD recording capabilities, we think this would be money well spent.

We give the Plextor PX-708UF DVD±R/RW CD-R/RW Dual Format Drive a Hot Hardware Heat Meter Rating of a 9.

Discuss This Article in Hardware's PC Hardware Forum!

 



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