I always research hardware before I buy--especially regarding
compatibility issues. The odd thing about the reviews I've seen
for the Plextor 716a were that most were positive, but the few
negatives sounded catastrophic: Couldn't boot, complete burn
failures, lockups. Not the typical 'too many coasters' or whatever.
OK, so I dismissed them as uninformed users who probably didn't
know how to get anything running. While I don't do systems
config 100% of the time (I'm supposed to be a programmer, so
I only do sys-config 98% of the time <g>) I almost always
manage to get things working.
I also checked with a friend at a DVD duplicator house, and got a
thumbs-up on the Plex 716a.
Needless to say, it's been a nightmare. Plextor's idea of tech
support was to tell me to swap cables, then send me here. Great.
So...the main clues that I have are that the drive initially locked up
the system...would not boot (doh! maybe those complaints were
not wrong after all). Listening to their techs, I had set the Plex
as master. Tried different cables etc. Finally, before sending it
back, I decided to try setting as cable-select. It booted! It worked
as it should for a while.
Unfortunately, I should have suspected it was flakey when it wouldn't
work as master. It failed again. After trying about 30 different
combinations of controllers, Master/Slave/CS options, with and without
other drives on the cable, reflashing various versions of motherboard
software (!) and finally trying all of the above again after reflashing
the 716a, I'm convinced that the thing has buggy firmware.
Typical Nero messages are:
'calibration area full'
'focus or tracking error'
Burn process failed.
Status: 0x04 (0x01, SCSI_ERR)
Sense Key: 0x05 (KEY_ILLEGAL_REQUEST)
11:56:02 PM #28 CDR -1176 File WriterStatus.cpp, Line 167
Session fixation error
Or it simply stalls when new media is installed.
I use Taiyo Yuden religiously, but also tried other brands. Even tried
swapping in a new Asus 40-pin cable (against advice from Plextor-who
didn't really know why I should be using 80-pin as opposed to the
official Asus cable designated as DVD/CD, shipped with P4C800-E).
Tried a couple different Asus systems off the mobo IDE controllers,
tried Promise Ultra133 ATA controllers, Adaptec ASH-1233.
No other conflicting burning software loaded. I try to keep things
clear with Winpatrol (great program--get it).
I believe I've just witnessed why those extremely negative reports
are mixed with the positive reviews. I can't make any sense of this.
Bottom line--I swapped my Pioneer drive back in and everything
came back to life. Could not make it fail with any of the test combos
So...Any ideas? If not, what is a good second choice? NEC ND-3520A
or the Pioneer DVR-A09 (newer model than my current pioneer)?