Plextor 48X/24X/48X EIDE review:

Plextor 48X/24X/48X EIDE

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MSRP: $149.00

Plextor 48X/24X/48X EIDE

(Part #: PXW4824TASW)
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CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Quick packet-writing performance; superspeedy reader; comes with two packages of mastering software.

The Bad Expensive; 24X CD-RW media not included.

The Bottom Line The reliable, fast-reading PlexWriter 48/24/48A is an excellent all-around drive and a real boon for backup-minded individuals--as long as price is not an issue.

7.0 Overall

The $159 PlexWriter 48/24/48A CD-RW may not have the Yamaha CRW-F1's exotic ability to etch designs on discs with its laser, but it does offer the same next-generation 24X rewrite speed. The drive set records in packet-writing performance and read tests, but its mastering time for CD-Rs lagged behind that of other 48X-rated drives. However, if you're buying a drive for backup duty and can afford the Plextor's hefty price, you won't do better. The $159 PlexWriter 48/24/48A CD-RW may not have the Yamaha CRW-F1's exotic ability to etch designs on discs with its laser, but it does offer the same next-generation 24X rewrite speed. The drive set records in packet-writing performance and read tests, but its mastering time for CD-Rs lagged behind that of other 48X-rated drives. However, if you're buying a drive for backup duty and can afford the Plextor's hefty price, you won't do better.

We don't need no stinkin' media
Plextor manages to pack its box with almost everything you need to start burning. It includes an IDE cable, a quick-reference guide, a blank CD-R, an emergency-eject tool, and a software installation CD. Unfortunately, the company ships the drive without any 24X CD-RW media--the drive's raison d'être. But in what seems like a rarity these days, Plextor throws in a useful and in-depth printed user manual. The drive is compatible with Windows 98, Me, 2000, and XP.

For some reason, Plextor includes not one but two CD-mastering programs: Roxio's Easy CD Creator 5.0 Standard Edition and Oak Technologies' SimpliCD. We tested with the former but preferred the latter's ease of use and integration with the Windows interface. For packet-writing duties, you get Roxio's DirectCD. The software bundle also includes Plextor Liquid Player+ for streaming, downloading, and playing audio files, as well as a trial version of Stomp's Click'N Design 3d label-creating software.

Rewrite heaven
In CNET Labs' tests, the PlexWriter set a new packet-writing record, burning 400MB to CD-RW in only 4 minutes, 20 seconds--4 seconds faster than the previous high-water mark set by the TDK VeloCD 48X/24X/48X drive. In other tests, the PlexWriter proffered a mixed but generally positive set of results. While the drive set a new record by installing Microsoft Office Small Business Edition in 1 minute, 28 seconds, it took 2 minutes, 13 seconds to burn our 473MB test image to CD-R, or 30 seconds slower than the record held by TDK. Extracting 273MB worth of audio averaged 56 seconds, or 11 seconds slower than the CenDyne Lightning IV 48X/12X/48X CD-RW and the VisionTek Xtasy 48X/12X/48X CD-RW. As a reader and backup drive, the Plextor is without peer, though we'd like to see better mastering performance.

Plextor offers several technologies for a smoother recording experience. Burn-Proof protection lets you multitask while burning CDs, without the risk of encountering buffer-underrun errors that can turn discs into coasters. The drive also features a black tray, which the company claims minimizes jitter and C1 error rates. In our experience, the drive performed flawlessly with a wide variety of media.

Plextor backs the drive with an industry-standard one-year warranty. Toll-free phone support is available Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. PT. The company's Web site includes software and firmware downloads, e-mail support, FAQs, and helpful technology articles on a range of topics.

We give the PlexWriter exceptional marks for its fast read speeds, ultrareliable burning, and ability to write CD-RW at 24X; it's the ideal drive for backing up your system. But if you want a cheaper drive that burns CD-R faster and offers more installation hand-holding (via the inclusion of video clips and tutorials, for example), check out the TDK VeloCD.

Write tests
Time, in minutes, to complete tasks (shorter bars indicate better performance)
Audio burn to CD-R from image on hard drive (from 43 min., 11 sec. audio CD)   
Packet-write from hard drive to CD-RW (400MB directory)   
TDK VeloCD 48X/24X/48X CD-RW
1.71 
4.40 
Plextor PlexWriter 48X/24X/48X
2.22 
4.34 
CenDyne Lightning IV (48X/12X/48X)
1.78 
5.42 
VisionTek Xtasy (48X/12X/48X)
1.80 
5.31 
Sony CRX210A1 internal CD-RW (48X/12X/48X)
1.84 
6.82 
 
Audio-extraction tests
Time, in minutes, to extract a 26-minute, 58-second audio track (shorter bars indicate better performance)

CenDyne Lightning IV (48X/12X/48X)
0.74 
VisionTek Xtasy (48X/12X/48X)
0.74 
TDK VeloCD 48X/24X/48X CD-RW
0.81 
Plextor PlexWriter 48X/24X/48X
0.92 
Sony CRX210A1 internal CD-RW (48X/12X/48X)
0.95 
 
Read tests
Time, in minutes, to install Microsoft Office 2000 Small Business Edition (shorter bars indicate better performance)

Plextor PlexWriter 48X/24X/48X
1.45 
TDK VeloCD 48X/24X/48X CD-RW
1.63 
CenDyne Lightning IV (48X/12X/48X)
1.75 
Sony CRX210A1 internal CD-RW (48X/12X/48X)
1.78 
VisionTek Xtasy (48X/12X/48X)
1.86 
 
The Plextor PlexWriter set new records in packet-writing and read tests, beating out the competing TDK VeloCD. When it came to burning a 43-minute audio CD from the hard drive, however, the PlexWriter finished last among the 48X drives we've tested.

All write tests were run with both the drive's recommended media (submitted by the manufacturer) and with Verbatim discs, rated at the drive's maximum speed. However, because Plextor and Verbatim did not have 24X CD-RW media available, we used a Yamaha 24X CD-RW for the packet-writing test.


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