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Plextor PlexWriter PX-W4824TA 48/24/48 CD-RW
Author : Wayne Date : 8th October 2002
...Product PX-W4824TA 48/24/48 CD-RW
...Manufacturer Plextor
...Supplier Plextor
...Price £125.00 approx (inc. VAT) - around $130 (Pricewatch)

 

 

 

 

Introduction :

In an industry where five year's experience virtually qualifies you as a veteran Plextor must qualify as one of the grand masters. For around ten years now they have headed up the CD-RW revolution bringing reliability, innovation and ever falling prices to what was once a privilege of only the wealthiest of PC users. They were first to market with a true 40X CD-RW and now they've gone a step further combining a blistering 48X read and write speed with a groundbreaking 24X rewrite speed.

In the press release for their latest speed demon Plextor more or less acknowledged that CD-RW has hit its ceiling. Writing at speeds above 48X were bringing ever diminishing returns along with increased risk of CDs literally exploding under the huge centrifugal forces involved. Plextor's aim now is to focus on quality and features rather than brute speed so with that in mind I'm pleased to be able to introduce our look at the new filly in the stables, the PlexWriter 48/24/48A.

PlexWriter 48/24/48A Benefits

  • 48X write CAV (3000~7200KB/s)
  • 24X rewrite (3600KB/s)
  • 20X-48X read CAV (3000KB/s - 7200KB/s) through SpeedRead function
  • ATAPI Interface (PIO Mode 4, Multiword DMA Mode 2, UDMA/33 Mode 2)
  • BURN-Proof Technology (Buffer Under Run Proof)
  • PoweRec Technology (Plextor Optimised Writing Error Reduction Control)
  • VariRec Technology (Variable Recording)
  • Access Time <65 ms
  • 4MB Buffer
  • Mount Rainier Compatible
  • Overburning up to 94.55 minutes
  • Capable of reading and writing CD TEXT information
  • Compatible with:
    • Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows Me, Windows 2000, Windows XP, MacOs
  • 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
  • Two year* full-warranty (parts, labor and replacement) with On-Site Collect & Return** service
  • 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
  Multisession

 

Data Transfer Rates

-- Burst (UDMA/33) 33MB/s
-- Write CD-R
  48X: 7200KB/s CAV
  40X: 6000KB/s P-CAV
  32X: 4800KB/s P-CAV
  24X: 3600KB/s P-CAV
  20X: 3000KB/s CLV
  16X: 2400KB/s CLV
  8X: 1200KB/s CLV
  4X: 600KB/s CLV
  CD-DA
  48X: 7200KB/s CAV
  40X: 6000KB/s P-CAV
  32X: 4800KB/s P-CAV
  24X: 3600KB/s P-CAV
  20X: 3000KB/s CLV
  16X: 2400KB/s CLV
  8X: 1200KB/s CLV
  4X: 600KB/s CLV
-- Rewrite 24X: 3600KB/s P-CAV
  10X: 1500KB/s CLV
  4X: 600KB/s CLV
-- Read 20X-48X: 3120-7200KB/s CAV
  18X-40X: 2710-6000KB/s CAV
  14X-32X: 2170-4800KB/s CAV
  10X-24X: 1600-3600KB/s CAV
  8X: 1200KB/s CLV

 

Access Time <65ms
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 190 mm
Weight 1 kg
Reliability
MTBF 60.000 POH (15% duty cycle)
Tray Loading Eject 50.000 times
Warranty 2 year *
Service On-Site Collect&Return Service **

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

Features Examined :

Probably the thing that surprised me most of all was the fact that Plextor have decided to switch to CAV over their usually preferred method of Zone-CLV! Many people, including Plextor themselves in the past have suggested that though a little slower, Zone-CLV was the route to take when quality matters. On the other hand LaserDisk users have always preferred CAV although they concede it tends to be mechanically noisier. For those not familiar with the terms CAV and CLV let me try to explain. CLV stands for "Constant Linear Velocity" and is the way most CD-RWs used to operate. CLV means that the laser reads and writes data at a constant rate no matter whether it's on the inside or outside edge of the CD. To do this however the rotational speed of the media has to decrease as the laser gets to the outside edge to compensate for the increasing circumference. Zone-CLV is simply a variation of this technology whereby rather than have a constantly changing velocity for the media it's instead divided into distinct zones each of which is kept at a fixed velocity. Of course no CD-RW drive can instantaneously increase or drop its rotational speed from one zone to the next so the recording is actually stopped prior to each transition then continued again once the new rotational speed is reached. Clearly this wasn't an option before the advent of buffer underrun technology as stopping the recording even for a split second would have lead to a coaster.

CAV on the other hand stands for "Constant Angular Velocity" and with CAV it's the media rotation speed that remains constant and not the laser's read/write rate. As a result much more data can be read or written in a fixed period of time from the outside your media than from the inside tracks. Using PowerRec (covered later) Plextor monitor errors and if necessary alter write strategy on a 1X by 1X basis and laser power is modified on a minute by minute basis. If errors are too high it will also automatically switch to Zone-CLV.

Some other noteworthy features are the rather impressive <65 ms access time and the ability to overburn to 94.55 minutes. The two year on-site collect and return warranty (EU-Countries + Norway and Switzerland) is also a welcome inclusion simply for peace of mind though I must admit I've never had the opportunity to test this out. I've owned four Plextors and each one is running as well now as the day I bought it. Don't take that as a scientific endorsement though, I may just be lucky.

One thing I found a little strange was the fact that only 4X, 10X and 24X Rewrite speeds are supported. There's a fair amount of 12X and 16X ReWriteable media floating around and it seems by default the Plextor will handle this at 10X. I'm not sure quite why Plextor have left such gaping gaps other than to force your hand and get you buying 24X CD-RW media and if it is simply a marketing ploy I'm a little disappointed at them.

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