If you've been thinking about upgrading to a solid, high-performance multimedia drive, take a look at the Plextor PX-716A. You'll need a little more technical savvy to install the 716A than you would need for an external CD/DVD burner because it's an internal ATAPI drive, but your patience will be rewarded with some of the best all-around performance available from any similar drive in the marketplace today. While we wish Plextor included additional software to round out the basic bundle, the essential software is already there, and the printed manual extends a helping hand that guides you from installation through using the software.
The Plextor PX-716A is entirely standard in appearance for an internal optical drive. The beige front bezel houses the motorized drive tray, an eject button, and a power/activity LED. The drive lacks a volume control and a headphone jack, a potential disappointment for people who like to play music CDs through their CD/DVD drive. The drive's backside includes standard power, signal, and audio connectors (along with configuration jumpers). An ATAPI signal cable and mounting screws are included with the PX-716A.
Installing an internal drive is certainly more involved than installing a USB or FireWire drive, but anyone experienced with the installation process should have no problem with the Plextor PX-716A. If you're new to internal drive installation, Plextor provides a thoroughly detailed printed manual that walks you through the entire process. CNET also has a handy guide to installing an internal drive.
Plextor's PX-716A internal drive offers all the versatility you'd need in a CD/DVD drive, supporting 48X CD-ROM and CD-R, 24X CD-RW, 16X DVD-ROM, 8X DVD+RW, 4X DVD-RW, and 6X DVD+R double-layer (DL) speeds. You can also use DVD+R and DVD-R media. The software bundle, however, is one notable weak spot for the Plextor PX-716A. Plextor includes its proprietary PlexTools Professional drive management utility to burn CD-R, CD-RW, and DVD discs (and utilize some unique features of the PX-716A such as Silent Mode). In addition, you'll receive Basic DVD Edition to burn CDs and DVDs, which provides the Drag-to-Disc utility for rewritable media. You'll also find and Dantz Retrospect for Windows on the software CD. Most basic drive users will find these tools to be satisfactory, but the bundle lacks the power and pizzazz found with other software bundles, such as the one included with Iomega's , and real multimedia enthusiasts will undoubtedly want a broader array of tools to work with.
|4.4GB DVD Video burn test||4.4GB DVD Video rip test (from DVD Video)|
|7.9GB DVD Video burn test||7.9GB DVD Video rip test (from DVD Video)|
** The Memorex, NEC, and Sony drives write to 2.4X double-layer DVD+R media at 4X.
|74:35 CD Audio burn test||74:35 CD Audio rip test|
|4.22GB RW write test||4.22GB RW read test|
Unless otherwise mentioned, all write tests are run with Verbatim media, rated at the drive's maximum speed. Find out more about how we test optical drives.
The Plextor PX-716A shines in actual operation. For DVD ripping, the PX-716A ripped a 4.4GB video in 6:09, trailing just behind the (at 5:59). The PX-716A burned the same 4.4GB video in 6:39 (DVD-R), putting it ahead of the Sony and Samsung, but trailing the Memorex and NEC drives. Plextor's PX-716A was equally impressive with DL DVD media, handling a 7.9GB DVD rip (in DVD+R mode) in only 11:45. However, the PX-716A swept the field in DL DVD+R writing, accomplishing the 7.9GB DVD burn in 17:10. With CD audio, the PX-716A ripped a 74:35 CD in 6:13--the second fastest of all drives compared here--but with a 3:01 writing time, Plextor's drive fell just behind NEC's ND-3500A at 2:49. Still, the PX-716A was a hands-down winner in rewritable DVD+RW performance, reading 4.22GB in just 6:34, and writing the same 4.22GB in 7:45, notably faster than most drives. In short, performance-conscious users should take a close look at the PX-716A.
Plextor supports the PX-716A with a standard one-year warranty. Toll-free telephone support is available Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to midnight PT. Plextor's Web site provides media compatibility information, a searchable knowledge base, firmware upgrades, FAQs, and white papers for technical enthusiasts.