As CD-Writers have matured, so has the technology that is integrated into their design. Back when the first CD-R drives were introduced, users were routinely plagued by "buffer underruns." Initially, manufacturers began incorporating new processes, like larger on-board memory buffers, into their drives to help combat this problem, but the results were mixed. Fortunately, there were a select few manufacturers who made the "buffer underrun" problem their top priority, looking to put an end to the problem once and for all. One of the first manufacturers to take this initiative to the next level was Plextor.
Over the years, Plextor has built themselves a reputation for designing premium quality CD drives that incorporate the latest technologies available. By following this practice, Plextor has been able to remain ahead of the pack, delivering some of the best drives available today. Remaining a leader in any technology industry is no small feat, yet Plextor has been in the upper tier for a number of years now and we see no signs of them letting up.
Today we will be taking a look at the latest addition to the Plextor family, the PleXCombo 20/10/40-12A. This is their first attempt at designing a drive that supports DVD/CD/CD-R/CD-RW in a single drive.
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| Specifications of the PlexCombo 20/10/40-12A |
| A Little Bit of Everything... |
| Total Solution features |
Part # (retail kit): PX-320A (internal)
E-IDE (ATAPI-4) interface
4-in-1 drive: 20X CD-R, 10X CD-RW, 40X max CD-ROM, 12X DVD-ROM
Windows 98/2000/ME/XP Compatible, MAC OS (MAC software not included)
* prevents buffer underrun errors
PoweRec-II ensures high quality stable recording
Dark colored CD tray minimizes jitters
Industry's first self-diagnostic function
100ms Average CD Random Access
150ms Average DVD Random Access
2 MB Buffer
Capable of Digital Audio Extraction at 40X max
Supports CD-DA; CD-ROM (Mode 1); CD-ROM (Mixed Mode); CD-ROM XA (Mode 2, Form 1 and Form 2 and Mixed Form; CD-I; Photo CD; Video CD; CD-Extra; CD+G; CD Text
Flash ROM allows for easy upgrade over the Internet
Supports Disc-at-Once, Track-at-Once, Session-at-Once, Variable & Fixed packet writing modes Create a 650MB disc for work in less than 4 minutes, writing at 20X. Rewrite a disc at a remarkable 10X. Or browse through a disc at a speed-reading 40X. Then, take a break and watch a DVD movie or play a game.
Minimum Systems Requirements
CPU: Pentium II 350MHz or equivalent
ATAPI interface: DMA must be set to ON in every OS. IDE controller must be set to PIO Mode 4 or Auto (Auto will select DMA Mode 2).
How to enable DMA inside operating system. Refer to your motherboard manual on how to set PIO Mode or DMA Mode.
Sound Card: For audio playback
Graphics: 800x600 display, 16-bit color
Aside from the PleXCombo 20/10/40-12A drive, the retail package we received for review contained the following:
1 - 40-pin ribbon cables
4 - mounting screws
1 - eject tool
1 - extra jumper
1 - 4x-10x Verbatim CD-RW
1 - CD-R
1 - CD with Easy CD Creator, CyberLink PowerDVD 4, SimpliCD and more.
In the past, Plextor provided its own CD burning utility and not much else in the way of extra software. Now it seems they've partnered up with a few well known companies to help produce a more complete and well-balanced product. We were thrilled to see a full version of CyberLink's PowerDVD software included in the package. When it comes to DVD software, PowerDVD ranks as one of the best in this reviewer's opinion. On the flip-side, it was a little odd to see that Plextor chose to partner with Roxio to use their Easy CD Creator software. It's common knowledge that Roxio has had some compatibility issues several versions of Microsoft Windows and Easy CD Creator, particularly Windows 2000 & XP. In addition, their software is not fully capable of supporting all of the features that the PleXCombo or PleXWriter drives have to offer. We'll touch on this in a little more detail later on, but we would think that a pairing with Ahead Software would be a more fitting choice since their Nero Burning ROM software can utilize all of the features found on a Plextor drive.
Aside from PowerDVD, there were a couple of other software products on the CD that were surprisingly useful. The first was a small yet powerful program called SimpliCD. SimpliCD is a basic CD writer application that runs discreetly in the taskbar and can be accessed with a single click. It has the more common abilities of the other popular burning programs, including CD copying, burning audio CDs as well as ripping MP3s up to 320 Kbps quality. Although it may lack in advanced features, SimpliCD is an excellent CD writer program for common everyday use. The other program was LiquidAudio, which is essentially an MP3 package that allows for cataloging as well as MP3 recording and playback. We found it to be a decent alternative to Windows Media Player, with less overhead and simpler interface.
Next we'll take a closer look at the PleXCombo 20/10/40-12A drive as well as some of its more important features.
Quality, Features and Nero