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Plextor 40/12/40A
Author : Wayne Date : 18th March 2002

...Product Plextor 40/12/40A
...Manufacturer Plextor
...Supplier Plextor
...Price £149.99 @ Jungle




Introduction :

If like me you were ever the owner of one of the early generation of single or dual speed CD writers you'll understand when I talk about the hours of frustration sat staring at the burn progress bar frightened to touch the keyboard or mouse for fear of burning a "coaster". Those original "burners" were temperamental, slow and unreliable and with each blank that winged its way into the bin you usually cursed to yourself and wondered why you were bothering.
Early development seemed slow with 2x and 4x drives around for what seemed like a lifetime, certainly to those waiting for faster and more robust technology to come along and make burning your own CDs a quick and painless experience.
Fortunately things were to change and these changes came with the falling prices that made a CD-RW a mainstream option for the home user. Along came faster drives and more importantly along came buffer underrun protection in various guises from various manufacturers.

So what's a buffer underrun? For those who don't know the simple explanation is that CD's ideally need to be created in a single continuous step. For as long as the blank is spinning there needs to be a constant supply of data fed to the laser. This is partly made possible by using a buffer, an area dedicated to storing data ready to be read and burnt. The larger the buffer the more data can be kept in standby and the lower the chances of the buffer being emptied faster than it can be filled. Unfortunately even with large buffers there may still be occasions where your system is busy doing other things and can't keep the buffer fed quickly enough, the result is that the buffer gets used up, data stops flowing and the CD you were burning is once again headed for that place where all the AOL CDs live..... the bin.

But surely if the data stops flowing the writer can just stop burning and carry on when the data is available again? Well yes and no. This is pretty much what happens today and is the whole basis of buffer underrun protections like BURN-Proof (Buffer Under RuN error Proof) and Just Link. If data flow dries up, these protected drives burn a "flag", a small marker at the end of the previous section of data that allows the laser to continue burning from that point when the data starts to flow again. The reason this couldn't be done in the past is because lasers simply weren't precise enough to be able to do it. The pulse control and tracking electronics were so primitive they would simply burn a "flag" that was so large it would immediately be seen by the host drive as a data error which would then abort reading.
Today I want to look at one of the fastest CD Re-Writers on the planet, Plextor's 40/10/40A, a drive that sets the standard not only for burn speeds but for reliability and quality too.

The Package :

Although it's hardly a selling point it's worth noting that the drive arrived well protected from knocks and bangs.

Inside the box you'll find a very comprehensive bundle of goodies including an IDE cable, mounting screws, audio cable, emergency eject tool, 5 blank high speed CD-R media and one blank high speed CD-RW media. The software side is taken care of with the inclusion of Nero Burning Rom, a sage choice from Plextor as it's probably one of the most fully featured and regularly updated of all the burning software available and is certainly the software I personally would choose. It may not be as pretty as some of the other software like Roxio but it's fast and reliable. Finally comes the driver CD which also includes the excellent PlexTools utility which we'll cover in a while.

Specifications :

  • 40X write Zone CLV (3000/3600/4800/6000 KB/s)
  • 12X rewrite (1800KB/s)
  • 17X-40X read CAV (2600KB/s - 6000KB/s)
  • ATAPI Interface (PIO Mode 4, Multiword DMA Mode 2, UDMA/33 Mode 2)
  • BURN-Proof Technology (Buffer Under Run Proof)
  • PoweRec II Technology (Plextor Optimised Writing Error Reduction Control)
  • VariRec Technology (Variable Recording)
  • Access Time 120 ms
  • 4MB Buffer
  • Capable of reading and writing CD TEXT information
  • Compatible with:
    • Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows Me, Windows 2000, Windows XP
  • MultiRead Compatible
  • Supports SPDIF (Digital Audio Output)
  • High Quality Digital Audio Extraction
  • A black tray, to reduce the jitter and to increase the quality of the burned CD
  • An optimised PCB circuit to reduce noise to get a higher quality of CD
  • Warranty: 2 year (only valid in Europe, Middle-East and Africa)
  • Service: On-Site Collect and return Service (EU countries + Norway and Switzeland
  • Writes CD-ROM Modes 1 and 2, CD-XA Form 1 and 2, CD-DA, CD-I, Video CD & Photo CD.
  • Creates Audio CD, CD Extra, Enhanced CD, Photo CD, CD-I & Video CD Titles.
  • Supports Disk-At-Once, Track-At-Once, Multisession, Packet Writing modes.
  • Wide CD-R and CD-RW media compatibility (74min and Type80 - 79min)
  • Includes PlexTools



Usable Formats Write/ReWrite Read Play
-- CD-DA * * *
-- CD-ROM * *
-- CD-ROM + CD-DA * * *
-- CD-ROM XA * *
-- CD-I * *
-- PHOTO-CD * *
-- VIDEO-CD * *
-- CD-Extra * * *
-- CD+G * * *
-- CD-TEXT * *
Writing Modes Track at once
  Session at once
  Disc at once
Data Transfer Rate
-- Burst (UDMA/33) 33MB/s
-- Write 40X: 6000KB/s Z-CLV
  32X: 4800KB/s Z-CLV
  24X: 3600KB/s Z-CLV
  20X: 3000KB/s CLV
  16X: 2400KB/s CLV
  8X: 1200KB/s CLV
  4X: 600KB/s CLV
-- ReWrite 12X: 1800KB/s CLV
  10X: 1500KB/s CLV
  4X: 600KB/s CLV
-- Read 17X-40X: 2.6-6.0 MB/s CAV
  14X-32X: 2.1-4.8 MB/s CAV
  10X-24X: 1.5-3.6 MB/s CAV
  8X: 1200KB/s CLV

Other Specifications :

Access Time 120ms
Data Buffer 4MB
Error Rate Mode1: less than 10-12bits
  Mode2: less than 10-9bits

Front Panel
Eject Auto Eject/Manual Emergency
Lights Indication ON - DISC IN
Disc Loading Tray, Auto load/auto eject
Headphone Jack Stereo mini-jack, 0.8V at 32 Ohms

Rear Panel
Power Supply DC +5V and DC +12V
Audio Connector Analog output (Molex Connector)
  Digital SPDIF output

Dimensions & Weight
Dimensions 146 x 41.3 x 202 mm
Weight 1.2 kg

MTBF 60.000 POH (15% duty cycle)
Tray Loading Eject 100.000 times
Warranty 2 year *
Service On-Site Collect&Return Service **

*only valid in Europe, Middle-East an Africa.
**(EU-Countries + Norway and Switzerland)



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