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Plextor PlexWriter 48/24/48U External HiSpeed USB 2.0 CDRW
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Date: Dec 29, 2002
Section:Storage
Author: HH Editor
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The Plextor PlexWriter 48/24/48U External HiSpeed USB 2.0 CDRW - Page 1

 

 

The Plextor PlexWriter 48/24/48U External Hi-Speed USB 2.0 CD-RW Drive
Speedy Burning On The Go

Jay Gibson
December 29, 2002

Since their debut in 1990, Plextor has been striving to make a name for themselves as one of the top-producing optical storage device manufactures in the market. Their introductions of generations of award-winning devices, has enabled them to generate an annual revenue of approximately $500 million per year, while providing some very stiff competition for their fellow combatants. As we're sure you would agree, Plextor is sort of the bellweather of optical drive manufacturers.

The first thing we noticed after unpacking this new Plextor drive, was its weight (4.85lbs to be exact) and solid feel. The center of the drive's housing is made of very nice brushed aluminum that blends nicely with the silver plastic "end-caps." As with some of their other drives, Plextor has decided to continue with the production of custom  faceplates and black CD trays. Looks aside, being able to burn CD-R's at 48x, rewrite at 24x and browse through a disc at a speedy 48x, this drive should deliver some pretty impressive performance. Now the obvious question is, "how well will the drive actually stand up versus an internal unit"?  How about we go take a look?

Specifications / Features Of The PlexWriter 48/24/48U
What's Under The Hood...

  • Easy connectivity: Hi-Speed USB/USB compatible

  • 3-in-1 drive: 48x CD-R, 24x CD-RW, 48x max CD-ROM

  • 4MB buffer

  • technology

  • PoweREC-II

  • SpeedRead

  • VariRec

  • Self-diagnostics

  • Black CD tray

  • Audio Out

  • Supports Track-at-Once, Disc-at-Once, Session-at-Once, Multisession, Fixed and Variable Packet Writing Modes, Speed Read and Mt. Rainier

  • Supports ATAPI command set

  • Flash ROM which allows for the latest firmware revisions

  • Windows 98SE/ME/2000/XP and Mac (software not included) compatible

  • One-year full warranty (parts, labor and replacement)

  • Unlimited toll-free tech support

Click images for full view
 
 

Included with the Plextor PlexWriter PX-W4012TU full retail package, we found the following list of accessories:

 

  • PlexWriter
  • Drive Manual
  • Quick Reference Guide
  • Software Disc
  • Eject Tool
  • CD-R Media
  • USB 2.0 Cable
  • Power Cord
  • AC Adapter

 

 
The feature set for the PX-W4824TU/SW shows that many of the proven technologies, from past Plextor products, have found their way into this drive as well. Since some of the acronyms are not very clear, we have provided a brief explanation of each of them below.
  • BURN-Proof: prevents Buffer Under-RuN errors. This allows one to multi-task during a recording session and not have to worry about creating coasters that come in so handy during all those LAN parties. 
  • PowerREC II: (Plextor Optimized Writing Error REduction Control) technology is a sophisticated write strategy that uses information from an on-board media catalogue of all certified media, listed by manufacturer and part number.  This information is used to properly configure the drive for optimal burning on the specific media in use. 
  • SpeedRead: provides maximum speed with data reliability. Basically this feature enables one to maximize the read speed of the drive without sacrificing data integrity and safety of the hardware/user. 
  • VariRec: VARIable RECording technology (if supported by your writing software) lets one manually adjust the laser burn parameters to match your sound. This helps out in situations where a burned CD may not work in some players, but will in others.
  • Mt. Rainier: enables native OS support of data storage on CD-RW. It basically enables one to read and write on a CD-RW like you can on a Floppy Disk. For more information, Click Here.

The last thing we wanted to note, before we get to the installation and setup, is the black CD tray. According to Plextor the use of a black tray aids in burning quality. Supposedly the black plastic absorbs reflected laser light better then white trays, thus increasing reliability and reducing the chance of possible errors caused by "jitter."  

Well there you have it folks, let's move past all the visual appearances, marketing and other technical jargon and see how this drive actually holds up.

 

Setup, Installation and  Software

 
 
   
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The Plextor PlexWriter 48/24/48U External HiSpeed USB 2.0 CDRW - Page 2
 

The Plextor PlexWriter 40/12/40U External Hi-Speed USB 2.0 CD-RW Drive
Speedy Burning On The Go

Jay Gibson
December 29, 2002

As with most USB products, installation couldn't be easier thanks to USB's plug 'n' play support in WinXP.  If you want to take full advantage of this drives performance, you'll need a motherboard that supports the USB2.0 standard interface, which will afford you a full 480Mb/sec bandwidth, versus USB 1.1 at on 12Mb/sec.  When we installed the drive all we did was, connect the power supply to the back of the drive, turn on the power (switch located at the back of the unit), connect the USB cable, and then sat back and let windows take care of the rest. One reboot later, to double-check that drive was being recognized in Windows, and we were up and running.

 

 
Installation and Software
The bundle is good, but we can see where some improvements can be made...

Plextor included quite a well-rounded bundle of CD Burning software from Roxio Corp.  Formerly produced by Adaptec, Easy CD Creator 5 Basic is the CD Authoring Software of choice for Plextor. Personally we would have liked to see Plextor USA to take note from their European counterpart and ship their drives with Ahead Software's Nero Burning ROM instead. We make this decision based upon the problems that some users, especially those with Windows XP, have experienced with Easy CD Creator 5, ranging from illegal operations to corrupted Windows installations (more in-depth listing of problems).

Roxio CD Creator 5 and Direct CD
   

However, we personally did not experience any problems with Easy CD Creator 5 basic during our trials. Easy CD Creator is certainly a full-featured and useful tool for creating music CD's, backups and easy formatting, thanks to Direct CD. When using Direct CD, the drive formats the CD for "drag and drop" addition of data just like any other standard removable drive. Once you are done moving files to the CD just presses the eject button and you will be prompted with a dialog box asking how you would like to close the session. You can either leave it open for further burning at a later time, or close it completely so it will be recognized by other standard CD drives.

Roxio CD Creator 5 Music Compilation


 

CD Creator 5 will allow you to simply copy from a CD to a CD-R or allow you to plan and layout your data or music, within its CD Project mode.  The user interface is simple and intuitive.  It also does a nice job of letting you know how much room you have left on your recordable, as well as letting you shift the order of files or tracks.  However, all told we prefer Ahead Software's Nero Burning ROM software suite, for its overall improved stability and ease of use.  Regardless, the Roxio suite that Plextor bundles in, is no slouch either.

       

There are also a few other "useful" utilities bundled in with the retail package. The trial version of "Click N' Design", which is an easy to use CD label maker, the "Lite" version of "Simpli CD", which enables the user to duplicate CD's or rip MP3's and lastly, Plextor's "Liquid Player", which is very similar to Windows Media Player. 

 

Hot Hardware's Test System
Mid range Pentium 4 performance

 

 

The Specs

  • Pentium 4 1.8GHz. Processor

  • Asus P4B533-E Motherboard

  • 256MB Micron DDR SDRam

  • 30 Gigabyte Samsung HD

  • Joytech - Devil Monster II Radeon 8500 LE 128MB

  • Hercules Digifire 7.1 Digital Sound Card

  • Pioneer DVD-116 Drive,

  • Windows XP Pro with SP1

  • Direct X 8.1 and ATi Reference Drives Version 6.13.10.6094

 

Utilities and Media Used For Testing

  • SiSoft SANDRA 

  • Nero Burning ROM 5.5.9.17

  • Nero InfoTool 

  • Nero CD Speed 

  • Nero Express for MP3 Encoding 

  • An audio CD 74:53 m/s in Length 

  • A 600MB ZIP File for Data Copy Test 

  • Various CD-R Media


 

 

Benchmarks  with The PlexWriter 40/12/40U
Tonight in the center ring... Internal vs. External...

Nero InfoTool:

 

Plextor 48x24x48U

Plextor 48x24x48A

First off, we used Nero's nifty little "InfoTool" to snag a quick description of the PX-W4824TU/SW (External) capabilities. For comparison, we have chosen to include the InfoTool reading that we obtained from the Plextor  PX-W4824TA.  As you can see there is no difference between the two drives besides the Firmware versions. The one thing that you may find a bit odd is the maximum read speed of both drives is reported as 40x. This is not a mistake, Plextor has set this as a "safety" measure to aid in excessive vibration and to limit the chance of CD's shattering when max read speeds are reached. But don't worry, you can override this and enable 48x read speeds, or "SpeedRead" as Plextor calls it. Simply press and hold the eject button for three seconds while inserting a CD into the drive (SpeedRead activation is indicated by the green light blinking 4 times).

For the following set of benchmarks a retail copy of Quake 3 was used for the data transfer tests and a 73 min audio CD for the audio transfer tests.

SiSoft SANDRA:

 

Plextor 48x24x48U

Plextor 48x24x48A

As you can see from the scores above, the external drive actually beat out the internal by 387 kB/s in the SANDRA CD/DVD File System benchmark. This is kind of surprising considering external drives are typically a little slower. We should note that both drives had "SpeedRead" enabled throughout all of our testing.


Nero CD Speed - Data:

 

Plextor 48x24x48U

Plextor 48x24x48A

For the next test, we fired up "Nero CD Speed" to test the overall performance of these drives reading while using a data CD. The external drive managed to outperform the internal drive in this part of the test with the exception of CPU usage and and Burst Rate. The reason for the difference is still because of the extra bit of processing required to transfer the data back and forth, thus the increase in the CPU usage and lower Burst speeds.

 

More Nero and MP3 Encoding

 
   
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