Plextor – PlexWriter 24/10/40U review

External USB 2.0 CD-RW drive
Photo of Plextor – PlexWriter 24/10/40U
£159.00 + VAT

Some external CD-RW drives are portable, but this one definitely isn’t. It’s a conventional 5.25-inch ATAPI CD-RW drive contained within a robust metal and rubber case. But what makes it particularly interesting is that it connects to the host PC via the USB 2.0 interface, so newer PCs can take advantage of its maximum performance; 24-speed write, 10-speed rewrite and 40-speed read.

Although these quoted speeds are only valid when the drive is connected to a USB 2.0 host system, the PlexWriter can also be used on older, USB 1.1 machines. However, its operating speeds will drop to 4-speed write, 4-speed rewrite and 6-speed read.

The drive supports all the popular CD formats and has a 4MB data buffer plus BURN-proofing to help prevent loss of data during the write process. It also has a pretty respectable access time; 140ms for read operations. The PlexWriter 24/10/40U is equipped with Plextor’s PoweRec-II system, which continuously checks the write quality during the burn process and either raises or lowers the write speed as appropriate, potentially maximising performance and minimising the time it takes to write a CD.

The drive’s case is solid and there are rubber end-pieces that help to hold it in place and prevent it being accidentally moved around on the desk. There’s a socket at the back for the mains power connector, supplied as an external module, along with an on/off switch. There’s also a pair of audio output connectors that can be used, if you have the appropriate cable and sound card, to play audio CDs on your PC or Mac.

A copy of Nero Version 5.5 from Ahead Software is included in the box. This is one of the best CD authoring and duplication programs available and includes packet-write and disc-at-once utilities. All the documentation is supplied in PDF format on CD and the drive comes with drivers for the major operating systems, including a USB 2.0 upgrade driver for Windows 98 users. Plextor provides a two year RTB warranty with the drive.

Company: Plextor

Contact: +32 3 735 55 22


Verdict
External drives tend to be rather large and cumbersome, and this is not really an exception to that rule. But since it's not designed to be carried around, that doesn't really matter. For machines where an internal upgrade is not an option - perhaps you've run out of drive bays or it'll be used with a laptop while in the office - this is a painless way to add CD-RW capabilities. And with USB 2.0 you can get the most out of its performance.