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Plextor Premium 52/32/52 Internal CDRW Drive
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Date: Jul 15, 2003
Section:Storage
Author: HH Editor
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Plextor Premium 52/32/52 Internal CDRW Drive - Page 1
 

The Plextor Premium 52/32/52 Hi-Performance Internal CD-RW Drive
Exceptionally Fast Performance For Professionals

Jason R. Gibson
July
14, 2003

With the recent introduction of recordable DVD drives, it seems like recordable CD drives may soon become a thing of the past.  In hopes of maximizing their impact on this slowly declining market, Plextor has recently released their latest edition to the very successful PlexWriter line of products, the PlexWriter Premium 52/32/52. Historically known for producing well-constructed drives that deliver the goods, Plextor has garnered a very reputable name in the Optical Drive market. Sporting new technology and some very notable specifications, this new CD-RW drive should be able to produce some impressive results.

Visually, there is nothing spectacular separating this drive from other drives that are currently on the market.  However, as the saying goes, "you can't judge a book by its cover ".  Or in this situation, you certainly "can't judge a CD-RW by its enclosure".

Specifications / Features Of The PlexWriter Premium
What's Under The Hood...
 
  • 3-in-1 drive: 52X CD-R, 32X CD-RW, 52X max CD-ROM
  • 8MB buffer
  • Buffer Under Run Proof technology prevents buffer under run errors that can cause wasted media or coasters
  • allows high capacity storage of up to 1 GB on a 700 MB disc. With this advanced feature, you can increase the maximum writing capacity up to 40%*
  • checks and reports written disc quality ? C1/C2, track and focus errors*
  • offers password protection for your disc and other valuable data*
  • enables users to vary tray load/unload speed, spin up/down speed and write/read speeds*
  • provides power users with unprecedented control over the burn process*
  • (Plextor Optimized Writing Error Reduction Control) technology is a sophisticated write strategy for superior quality and stable recording at maximum speed
  • High quality digital audio extraction
  • Windows® 95/98/ME/2000/XP? Mac compatible (software not included)
  • Self-diagnostics validates correct operation of drive to media
  • One-year full warranty (parts, labor and replacement)
  • Unlimited toll-free tech support

*enabled by PlexTools Professional software only (included)

Click images for full view

 

 

Included with the Plextor PlexWriter Premium Pre-Retail Package, we found the following list of accessories:
 
 

  • 1 - PlexWriter

  • 1 - Drive Manual

  • 1 - Quick Reference Guide

  • 1- 40-Pin ATAPI Cable

  • Emergency Eject Tool
  • 1 - 52x Verbatim CD-R Media
  • 4 - Mounting Screws
  • Software Disc
 
Continuing in traditional Plextor manner, the drive came with a first-rate bundle. The only entry that we would like to see added into the final retail package, is an audio cable to connect the drive to a sound card. That aside, we were very pleased with the quality of the rest of the package, especially the User's Manual and Quick Reference Guide. The manuals provide users with multiple solutions to problems, varying configuration methods for installation and adequate background detail on the model and included software. After all, an easy trouble free installation is always a bonus in the consumer?s eye. Lastly, before we get to the installation we wanted to note the black CD tray used in most all recent Plextor Optical Drives.  According to Plextor, the use of a black tray aids in burning quality.  Supposedly, black plastic absorbs reflected laser light better than white trays, thus increasing reliability and reducing the chance of possible errors caused by "jitter."  Since Plextor begun doing this with their 40X drive, we've seen multiple manufactures switch over to black trays. 

Beyond that, the actual specs of the drive, noted above, are fairly self explanatory.  This drive is rated to burn CDRs at 52X speeds, re-write them at 32X speeds and read CD media at 52X speeds.

 

Setup, Installation and  Software

 
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Plextor Premium 52/32/52 Internal CDRW Drive - Page 2
 

The Plextor Premium 52/32/52 Hi-Performance Internal CD-RW Drive
Exceptionally Fast Performance For Professionals

Jason R. Gibson
July 14, 2003

 
Installation
Slap it in and fire it up...

Installing this drive could not be any easier. The User's Manual included in the package displays just about every configuration possible when it comes to installing this type of drive (Master, Slave, and Cable Select, etc). Once we opened up our case, we secured the drive in place using four mounting screws.  Then we connected the power and the IDE cable, and we were done. After a successful boot (with drive recognition) and some software installation, we were up and running in under 15 minutes.

Software
The Extra Goodies...

Plextor includes a well-rounded bundle of CD Burning Software from Roxio Corp., formerly produced by Adaptec, with this drive.  Easy CD Creator 5 Basic is the CD Authoring Software of choice for Plextor. The HH Crew, however, would have liked to have seen Plextor USA to follow the lead of their European counterparts and ship the drive with Ahead Software's Nero Burning ROM instead. We find that Nero is a more stable program, with features that are targeted at power users, Plextor's target audience.  However, we did install Easy CD Creator 5 Basic during our trials and did not experience any problems.  Easy CD Creator is also a full-featured and useful tool for CD creation.

Roxio Easy CD Creator 5 and DirectCD
   

"DirectCD", allows the CD-RW drive to format CD's for "drag and drop" addition of data just like any other storage media. Once you have completed moving files to the CD, you are given the option of two different methods of closing the session. One, may either leave the CD open for further burning at a later time, or close it completely (no further writing possible) so the CD will be recognized by other standard CD drives.

 

Roxio PhotoSuite
 

Roxio Easy CD Creator 5
Music Compilation
 

Dantz Retrospective
(30-Day Trial Version)

EZ CD Creator 5 allows the user to simply copy from a CD to a CD-R or to plan and organize the layout of your data or music, within its CD Project mode. The interface is fairly simple and easy to use. It does a nice job of keeping the user informed about how much room is used and available on the CD, as well as letting one shift the order of files and tracks with a few clicks of the mouse.

PhotoSuite 5 aids users in transferring photos from digital cameras, editing, organization in albums, sharing through E-mail and printing. This program is very straightforward, with a minimal learning curve. Though this program offers some editing abilities (red eye, auto contrast/color balance, crop, rotation, text addition), it is not what we would call an expert package. If you are a beginner in the world of digital photography, consider starting with this program. The ease of use and easy to follow menu architecture will surely null out any fears of data loss/time wasted fumbling with unnecessarily complicated programs. The added bonus of PhotoSuite's project templates will also allow users to quickly produce cards for those forgotten occasions, "of course I have a card for our Anniversary Dear. It's on the computer desk".

Dantz Retrospective Backup Software provides users with a very simple and cost effective method of protecting themselves from data loss. With the ability to schedule regular backups and restore complete volumes this software was a pleasure to use. Personally, we really liked the "Easyscript" function. By simply answering a few simple questions (type of storage media, time of back up, number of copies, day of the week, etc.), we were able to configure this program for automated backups.  Though we would have liked to see a full version included, we have to give Plextor a few bonus points for including this software.


 

 

PlexTools Professional gives users the ability to control virtually every aspect of the drive, enabling "SpeedRead", turn on/off "PowerRec", adjust eject timing of the CD Tray, test the drive using "Q-Check" and the ability to slow down the drive for quieter operation. Included in this software package is a standard authoring program.  Though it cannot shake a stick at the amount of features Nero or EZ CD Creator offers, it does offer a simple solution for burning a quick data or music CD.  During our testing process we used this software to test the GigaRec feature (covered in more detail a little later), thought we experienced no faults with the burning software, the lack of features left us feeling powerless over the program.
 

Test System and Benchmarks

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Plextor Premium 52/32/52 Internal CDRW Drive - Page 3
 

The Plextor Premium 52/32/52 Hi-Performance Internal CD-RW Drive
Exceptionally Fast Performance For Professionals

Jason R. Gibson
July 14, 2003

Final Thoughts...
And finishing touches

 

GigaRec and SecuRec Explored:

The last two features we want to cover before giving our final thoughts are GigaRec and SecuRec. GigaRec gives users the ability to burn a Gigabyte of data onto one single 700MB CD. The PlexWriter Premium automatically adjusts the speed and power of the laser in such a way that the size of the pits being created on the disc during the burn process are altered, without making the CD unreadable. Unfortunately, due to this "tweaking" of speed and laser power, burning is limited to 4x. This may be tedious for the user who is used to being able to burn a CD in under 5 min, but for those few files that are just a little larger then a 700MB, this feature while surely be welcomed.

SecuRec is a security feature that allows the user to password protect their media. Before burning the CD, the user is prompted to select a password, once burned, the same password must be entered before the data on the disk can be accessed again.  Though this may not be a huge selling point to the average home user, many Business/Professional users may find this a very useful tool in protecting their proprietary information.

 

Overall, we were very impressed with the PlexWriter Premium.  In our initial paragraph, we noted that there was nothing that makes this drive standout visually. That is true, it is a typical looking CD-RW drive, but its build quality is something very different. When compared to the other Plextor drives, this one feels just that much more solid. The CD trays on some other units seemed a bit flimsy, but the one in the Premium drive was steady and solid. In addition, the ejection speed and smooth motion of the CD tray also instilled confidence.  Realistically, recordable CD drives have advanced just about as far as they are going to. Thus, speed is not the dominating factor in this review. Yes, this drive is fast, being able to produce a CD in less than 3 minutes repeatedly is impressive. Nevertheless, we can go to the local computer store and pick up a cheap $50.00 drive that will come darn close to that. When considering drives these days, you must also factor in reliability and burn quality. When a company produces a drive that is able to burn CD's, even under extreme circumstances, without producing a coaster, that is a sign of quality. What good is a drive if it can produce five CD in less than ten minutes, but only three of those are readable?

Currently the Plextor PlexWriter Premium is listed for about $104.00 - $129.00 USD on various price search engines. The performance, quality of construction and overall feel this drive will be hard for Plextor's competitors to surpass. Unfortunately, for a drive that scores so well, it does have a small flaw, at least temporarily until perhaps it is remedied with a firmware patch. That data transfer drop during SpeedRead did catch our attention just a bit. Though the drive operated perfectly when SpeedRead was disabled, if the option is available, it should work without a hitch. That aside, we still give this drive praise, and would gladly recommend it to anyone seeking a new high-performance CD-RW drive.

For its overall quality, price, performance and features, we are awarding the Plextor PlexWriter Premium Hi-Speed Internal CD-RW drive 8.5 out of 10 on the Heat Meter.

  • Burn-Proof Technology
  • Mt. Rainier Support
  • PoweREC-II Technology
  • GigaRec
  • VariRec
  • Black CD-Tray
  • Very Quiet
  • Data Transfer Problems While Using Speed Read
  • EZ CD Creator 5

 

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