Introduction and Construction

Last week, we had another DVD recordable exclusive: the Sony DRU-700A. This week, we have another exclusive review, the Plextor 712A. Plextor already impressed us once six months ago with the first 8X DVD+R dual format burner. Right on schedule, the next generation burner has high expectations, if it is to rival its already tried and true predecessor.

Without question, Plextor has continually raised the bar regarding bundled documentation and software. The documentation alone is superb; we received a 125-page manual that contains more data about our drive and drive technology in general than all of our other OSD manuals combined. The documentation does not just tell you how to configure your drive, but also why and to what benefit. The drive also comes with a decent software package, which includes Roxio Easy CD and DVD Creator, Roxio DVD Max, PhotoSuite 5 SE and PlexTools Pro. Ahead Nero is missing from this bundle.

Click to enlarge.

Below is a quick overview of specifications on the drive:

 Plextor 712A DVD-/+R Drive
Interface IDE
CD Write Speed 48X, 40X, 32X, 24X (P-CAV)
16X, 12X, 8X, 4X (CLV)
CD Rewrite Speed 24X (Z-CLV)
16X, 12X, 8X, 4X (CLV)
CD Read Speed 40X Max (CAV)
DVD-R Write Speed 8X (Z-CLV)
4X, 2X (CLV)
DVD-RW Rewrite Speed 4X, 2X, 1X (CLV)
DVD+R Write Speed 12X, 8X (Z-CLV)
4X, 2X (CLV)
DVD+RW Rewrite Speed 4X, 2.4X (CLV)
DVD Read Speed 16X Max (CAV)
Supported Modes DAO / DAO-RAW 16 & 96
SAO / SAO 16 & 96
Packet Write
Supported Formats DVD+R (DAO, incremental, seq)
DVD+RW (random)
DVD-R (DAO, incremental, seq)
DVD-RW (restricted overwrite)

Mixed Mode, CD Extra
Photo CD, CD Text, Bootable CD, UDF, Mount Rainier
Access Time CD: 100ms
DVD: 150ms
Buffer 8MB

It is fair to say that the 712A is essentially a 708A on steroids. Plextor has increased the buffer size over the 708A back to 8MB. Our drive came with a Parallel ATA (PATA) interface, but other revisions of this drive will ship with SATA connectors. The SATA revision is labeled as PX-712SA. Our drive can also read DVD-RAM at 2x, and normal DVDs at 16X. Unfortunately, the drive only supports 4X DVD+/-RW media.

Also notice the 48X CD write speeds. The 708A was only capable of 40X CDR. The drive sports fairly low access times, but we will see if they actually live up to that claim later in the review.

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Interestingly enough, DVD+R9 does not show up for read capabilities. When we put some of our burned DVD+R9 media inside the drive, the drive would not recognize our disc.

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Below, you can see what many already suspected; the LQFP chipset and design are similar to the Plextor 708A. The Sanyo LC897491 is an upgrade on the LC897490 used in the 708A. Interestingly enough, the chipset includes 8MB of flash memory, which explains the increase from 2MB to 8MB on the buffer size. Even though the drive supports HD-BURN, this is relabeled as GigaRec for Plextor.

Click to enlarge.

The drive also uses the AK8584 analog signal processor, which is more than capable of keeping up with the Sanyo LSI.

There are no official booktype setting capabilities for this drive.

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  • smjohnson85 - Monday, June 7, 2004 - link

    check your screenshot of gigarec. it's showing negative values to very low values instead of the ~500mb - 900mb range it should be. i have the same problem on my plextor premium 52x using the nvidia ide drivers for the nforce2. you could originally fix this by downgrading to the ms ide drivers, but i tried it recently with a newer plextools version and got the same problem. anyone have ideas/fixes for this?
  • RyanVM - Saturday, May 15, 2004 - link

    It seems likely to me that a firmware update can take care of the DVD+R9 reading problems.

    Oh well, here's to waiting for the SATA version!
  • XRaider - Saturday, May 15, 2004 - link

    Where did you get those Yuden disks at? Are they verbatim or Fujifilm? And where can we get them at?
  • KristopherKubicki - Friday, May 14, 2004 - link

    I didnt burn the CMC discs at 12X. I already had them burned so i popped one in and thats what the write descriptor said.

    I burned 3 Yuden discs including the one included with the drive. None others would burn at 12X although that CMC might have if i didnt have it burned already.

  • Ian@CDRlabs - Friday, May 14, 2004 - link

    Kristopher, how'd you get those CMC discs to work at 12x? The fastest speed my Plextor 712A has been able to write to those discs is 8x.

    Also, did you burn more than one disc at 12x? Or just the one that came with the drive?
  • KristopherKubicki - Friday, May 14, 2004 - link

    Lol, the 1.01 firmware came out the day i published :(

    Oh well.

  • KristopherKubicki - Friday, May 14, 2004 - link

    Belzer: Thats Plextors normal read descriptor.

    We burned the YUDEN000T02 at 12X; that was a typo and is fixed.

    Youre correct, its E03 also.

  • Belzer - Friday, May 14, 2004 - link

    Some remarks/questions:

    "Below, we can see Nero DVD speed has no problem reading the disc using the PX-712A"

    No problem? That reading curve sure doesn't look very good to me.

    Did really YUDEN000T01 burn at 12x? Because YUDEN000T01 is only 4x certified media, not 8x. TY's 8x DVD+R has mid code YUDEN000T02.
    Also CMC MAG 301, shouldn't it be CMC MAG E01?

    "Below are a set of write descriptors that we could find for DVD+R and DVD+RW media:
    RITEKG03: 1x (2x)
    RITEKG04: 4x (4x)
    MCC 01RG20: 8x (4x)
    MCC 02RG20: 8x (8x)
    MKM A02: 4x (4x)
    MCC 01RW4X: 4x (4x)
    OPTODISCOP1: 2.4x (2.4x)
    PRINCO: 2x (1x)"
    That's a mix of DVD-R, DVD-RW and DVD+RW media in that list.
  • ivwshane - Friday, May 14, 2004 - link

    Anybody know where to get these yuden disks from? Is fuji using them in their dvd+r's?
  • orogogus - Friday, May 14, 2004 - link

    wake me up when they get dual layer Plextors on the market. 12x is cool and all, but I want to use DVD9s.

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