Exclusive: Plextor 712A, First 12X DVD+R to Retailby Kristopher Kubicki on May 14, 2004 12:00 PM EST
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PlexToolsWhen we received our 708A, we did not pay as much attention as we should have to the software packaged bundled with the drive. This time around, we spent the better part of an evening configuring and tweaking our drive with Plextor's bundle, some of which is quite ingenious. Although several drives will eventually show up with 12X writing speeds, the PlexTools will always set this drive apart from others (at least until Plextor's next drive).
Silent Mode - Inside PlexTools, we have the option to select the "Silent Mode" tab, which allows us to slow down the write, read and access speeds of the drive in order to keep the drive quieter. We won't be using this mode for our benchmarks, but for noise conscious HTPC builders, this could be an excellent feature. In a DVR machine, where you do not really need speed, the benefit is excellent.
VariRec - Undoubtably, the icing on the cake of PlexTools is VariRec. Essentially, VariRec allows you to calibrate the drive laser on your own, rather than allow the drive's internal PowerRec to adjust the laser for you. We can select the chemical composition of the media, pick a recording speed, and determine what degree we would like the laser to use. Unfortunately, there is not an option to save your settings for future use. However, with enough practice, VariRec is an excellent tool for enthusiasts.
GigaRec - GigaRec has been around for a while, but it is still an interesting feature. Similar to HD-BURN, you can change the pit size and lands to either stretch or compress your overall image size. For data CDs, you can usually get away by shrinking the pits in order to store more data on a CD (at the risk of compatibility and errors). However, for audio CDs, you may wish to increase the pit size for better quality.
PlexTools also comes with a benchmarking suite called Q-Check, which we will use later in this review. Q-Check does pretty much the same thing as KProbe, but will only work on Plextor drives as opposed to LiteOn drives.