The Plextor PX-708A 8x DVDR/RW Drive
Plextor fulfills the need for speed!

By Robert Maloney
December 28th, 2003

When it comes to optical drives, one brand that folks have turned to time and time again, for reliability and performance, would be Plextor.  We have had our looks at many a CD-RW drive and even a few 4X DVD burners this past year.  However, we were beginning to reach a point in time, where we were looking for the next "big thing".  It looks as if we're on the verge of this with optical drive technology in 2004.  Plextor is stepping out ahead in their core competancy, against the competition, with a drive that's not only dual-format, allowing for reading and writing to DVD+R and DVD-R, but does so with what is claimed to be speedy 8X technology.  The PX-708A is marketed as one of the first 8X drives to hit the market, burning over 4GB of data in just over 8 minutes.  If you can think to only a few years back, we were glad just to be able to burn 700MB to a CD in half an hour or so.  Additionally, Plextor has also provided speedy 40X/32X options for writing and reading CD-Rs as well, so there isn't much compromise with this DVD+R/-R drive.  Plextor appears to have come a long way with the technology, so let's get to the details and see what makes the PX-708A tick.
 

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Specifications of the Plextor PX-708A
Everything except the kitchen sink
Model: PX-708A
Interface: ATAPI / IDE
Data Buffer Memory: 2MB
Average Access Time: DVD: 150ms
Average Access Time: CD: 100ms
Data Transfer Rates:
     DVD+R Write: 8x
     DVD-R Write: 4x
     DVD+RW Write: 4x
     DVD-RW Write: 2x
     DVD Read: Up to 12x
     CD-R Write: 40x
     CD-RW Write: 24x
     CD Read: Up to 40x
     CD-RW Read: Up to 32x
 
Supported Formats: CD-Audio, CD-DA, CD-ROM, CD-ROM XA, CD-R, CD-R, CD-RW, Video CD, CD Extra, CD+G, CD-Text, DVD+R, DVD+RW, DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD-ROM, DVD-Video, DVD+VR, DVD-VR (read only), Mixed Mode, Bootable CD, UDF

Recording Modes: Packet, TAO, DAO, SAO, RAW SAO, RAW DAO, RAW SAO 16, RAW SAO 96, RAW DAO 16, RAW DAO 96

Buffer Management: Buffer Underrun Proof technology prevents buffer underrun errors, allowing user to multi-task during recording.
Write Methods: DVD: Sequential write, random-access write, multi-session, and Mount Rainier
CD: Disk at Once, Track at Once, Session at Once, Multi-Session, variable and fixed packet writing, and Mount Rainier .
Write Verification: PoweRec technology uses a sophisticated write strategy providing superior quality recording at maximum speeds.
Other Features:  Zero-link for DVD-RW has 0 byte gap between sessions to ensure compatibility with all players.

Front Panel: Eject/Load Button, LED Indicator, Headphone Jack, Headphone Volume Control Wheel Knob, Emergency Eject Hole
Disc Loading: Black Loading Tray - reduces optical distortion
Power Requirement: +12V DC and +5V DC
Mounting Orientation: Horizontal or Vertical, 15 degrees
Dimensions: (WxHxD) 146mm x 41.3mm x 190mm
 (5.75" x 1.63" x 7.48")
Weight: less than 1.2 kg (about 2.6 lbs.)
Temperature: operating: 0-40 C, non-operating -40-60 C
Humidity: operating: 20%-80% R.H., non-operating 20%-95% R.H.
Safety Requirement: UL, FDA, FCC, CE, BSMI, MIC, C-Tick
MTBF: 60,000 hours



Bundled Media and Software
Putting it all together

While Plextor has covered just about everything when it comes to the reading and writing CDs and DVDs, we were somewhat let down by the bundle that we found in the box.  There was a expansive manual that covers all of the specifications of the PX-708A. 30 pages alone explain the various installation options, depending on the current system configuration and normal use.  These pages are a boon for anyone new to the art of installing hardware or using a DVD/writeable drive for the first time.  It's obvious that time and effort went into the writing to allay any reluctance and questions that users might have.  For those who are a little more experienced, a quick reference guide covered all of the necessary steps to install the hardware and software.  In order to do so, we've got a 40-pin IDE cable and some mounting screws, as well as an extra jumper cap, should the current one get fumbled away.  Plextor has also included an emergency ejection "tool" - essentially a straight, thin metal rod that can be inserted into the eject hole in the front plate.

  • PX-708A User's Manual
  • Quick reference guide
  • DVD with bundled software
  • One blank DVD+R
  • 40-pin IDE ribbon cable
  • 4 mounting screws
  • Extra jumper cap
  • Emergency Eject tool

On the software side, we've got a single DVD with various applications to get the most out of the drive.  One of the more popular tools, Roxio Easy CD & DVD Creator 6 and Photosuite 5 SE highlight the list.  While we usually prefer to use Nero Burning Rom, Roxio's burning solution uses a flash tutorial to explaining the ins and outs of creating audio CDs, data CDs, and DVD video in quick and easy steps, perfect for a new user.  Photosuite provides professional-level editing tools for creating projects, with integrated CD burning capabilities.  Two other tools can utilize the PX-708A much like an additional hard drive.  Roxio's Drag-to-Disc allows the user to drag and drop files to a DVD for additional off-site storage, while a trial version of Dantz Retrospect can be used to backup and restore the system should problems arise in the future.  Unfortunately, Plextor has only included one blank DVD+R for trying out all of these tools.  It may help keep costs down, but we would have preferred some additional media here.

Shades of the PX-708A