Plextor – PX-708A DVD±R/RW drive review

dual-format DVD recorder
Photo of Plextor – PX-708A DVD±R/RW drive
£199 + VAT

One can’t help thinking that if the VHS and Betamax video manufacturers had got together in the 1970s and sorted out their differences, it might have been possible to have one machine that played both formats. OK, it’s unlikely, but that’s the situation we’re now facing in the writeable DVD battle. There are plenty of drives on the market that will read and write DVD-R/RW or DVD+R/RW formats, and it looked as though we were heading down the same old incompatibility road.

But now things are getting just a tad more sensible, since dual-format DVD writers are appearing on the market. Sometimes called DVD-Dual drives, these gadgets can read and write both DVD-R/RW and DVD+R/RW, making the decision process a lot easier (unless you need DVD-RAM, but that’s another story). If you need some background information about the different formats, read this.

Plextor’s PX-708A DVD±R/RW drive is an internal EIDE/ATAPI drive (a FireWire/USB version is also available) which can record at 8x – although there’s not much media that will handle such speeds yet – and re-write at 4x when using DVD+R/RW media. With DVD-R/RW those speeds change to 4x record and 2x write. DVD-ROMs can be read by the drive at 12x. For CD operation, the drive can record at 40x, re-write at 24x and read at 40x, so it’s a pretty swift unit.

Installation is painless, as you’d expect for a DVD/CD drive. Plug in the power, EIDE and audio cables and it should be automatically detected by your operating system. Your existing CD/DVD burning software may not recognise the drive, though, which is why Plextor includes version 5.5 of Nero, with the drive included in the software’s configuration table. This seems to work well, as you are given the choice of burning CD or DVD in just about any format.

There’s also the option of using InCD packet-writing software, so that you can simply drag and drop files and directories onto the disc icon. This is quick and easy, but does reduce compatibility with other drives when reading back the data. You also get a version of Pinnacle Studio 8 (software only), which lets you create and edit video footage, plus a DVD movie player.

Various algorithms are built into the drive to help reduce errors, jitter and wasted media, including BURN-proofing, Lossless Linking and Zero Link. All of which should ensure that you don’t lose too many CDs or DVDs due to write errors.

Company: Plextor

Contact: +32 2 725 55 22


Verdict
It all seems to work quite nicely. This drive can handle CD and DVD reading, writing and re-writing in several different formats. It's easy to install, the supplied software is capable and pretty easy to use, and it's reasonably priced. It's a suitable upgrade for anyone who is still undecided about which DVD writing format is best for them.