Plextor makes installing the PX-708A easy. A concisely written, printed quick-reference guide provides an excellent overview of the setup process, and the comprehensive printed manual supplies the details. If you can use a screwdriver, you're all set. Plextor includes mounting screws, an extra jumper, and a handy emergency-eject tool, so you won't have to fuss with a bent paper clip if the power dies and the tray won't open. We have two gripes: there's no drive-to-sound-card cable--a handy extra, even if most folks play their audio CDs across the PCI bus using digital audio extraction (DAE) these days. More importantly, the drive does not come with Plextor's PlexTools software, useful for tweaking esoteric drive features such as PowerRec and tray-eject speed.
The PX-708A has a full complement of features. A headphone jack and a volume control on the front panel let you listen to audio CDs straight from the drive, saving CPU cycles. The tray mechanism is exceptionally quiet and sturdy, and the reinforced front panel will keep a shattered disc (a rare but real occurrence) from escaping. An eject button, emergency-eject hole, and power/busy light adorn the front panel. The back of the drive has the usual IDE and power connectors, digital and analog audio ports, and drive jumpers.
Plextor bundles Roxio's Easy CD Creator 6.1 with the PX-708A. Faster and less buggy than previous versions, we can finally say that we like the software. The DVD Builder for movie editing wouldn't let us automatically burn multiple copies of our test movie; fortunately, it didn't force us to reencode our AVI file for each pass. The DVD-movie playback and the photo-editing software are also good.
The performance story is simple and sweet: the PX-708A tested at or near the top of the pack with every type of media we tried. In fact, it has the fastest DVD+R write performance of any drive we've tested to date. In informal testing, the drive burned an entire DVD-ROM movie at 8X in less than 10 minutes--inspiring nothing less than pure delight in our test personnel. The fact that the drive does this with 4X-rated media is a major boon: there's no need to wait for new, untried, more expensive media to appear. Our informal testing also convinced us that the PX-708A's 40X CD-R and 24X CD-RW writing makes it the first DVD-rewritable drive to offer uncompromising CD-burning performance.
|Movie write test (megabytes per second) (Longer bars indicate better performance)|
|Note: Compression rates vary depending on the drives' bundled software.|
|Data write tests (megabytes per second) (Longer bars indicate better performance)|
|Data read tests (MB/Sec) (Longer bars indicate better performance)|
|Note: Due to an error in our calculations, we originally published slightly innaccurate data-read results in this review. The scores have been corrected.|
All write tests are run with both the drive's recommended media submitted by the manufacturer and with "--="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">&siteid=7&edid=&lop=txt&destcat=ex&destUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Everbatim%2Ecom" target="_blank">Verbatim media, rated at the drive's maximum speed. Find out more about how we test optical drives.
Although specific product support for the PX-708A hadn't been implemented at the time of our review, Plextor's online support is generally exemplary. You can find FAQs, technology white papers, software updates, PDF manuals, and firmware downloads for all of the company's products. The PX-708A is backed by a typical one-year warranty. Toll-free telephone support is available weekdays from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. PT.