Hi all, when 16x DVD writers became affordable, I decided it was time to get one. Thanks to CDFreaks club for the literally hours & hours of research and discussion I have been able to do on these drives, particularly thanking those who have posted PIF and other scans, and most-particularly those who have posted the same data burned on the same disk in different burners at the same speed (zevia, others). That really helped make my decision.
Having not settled on a manufacturer, I started a thread in the General Recording Hardware forum to finalize some of my last questions. It started as a C2 error checking-capable drive feature comparison, but it quickly turned into a BenQ DW1620 vs Plextor PX-716A discussion, as these are the main players.
The link is to that thread is:
, and it's pretty in-depth.
Well, I went with the PX-716A. I almost did around Christmas, too, so I have been shopping for deals ever since then, but recently very intensely.
So here's the results of my research, which I also posted in the thread above. Please see THAT thread for the full discussion, which centers around some technical details.
Since I ultimately purchased (and found good deals on) the 716A, and some CD's which work best in that burner (MCC004, Verbatim/Mitsubishi Chemical), the last post is on-topic here, so here it is, and/or you can just check the thread link above for context. There are still some unanswered questions in the above thread, so you're encouraged to have a look and see what you can participate. There is a specific question about Plextools DAE [which program I obviously don't yet have access to]) which someone could help look up in particular.
...It [the PX-716A] seems to be the only drive which can check C2 errors AND do 8x DVD+RW (when media becomes available, of course). I have been closely watching the PI/PIF scans and with MCC004's, the 716A and 1620 appear neck-and-neck with 716A's FW 1.04, with the 716A actually perhaps taking the lead now. Zevia and some others have posted side-by-side comparisons which are available in the Firmware 1.04 thread. But I admit the most amazing burns I've seen have been on the DW6120. Someone on that forum even suggested a "hall of fame" thread for burns. Thanks all who who answered some of these questions. And a big THANK-YOU to ALL of you who have been posting your PIF scans. You really made the difference.
I am an extremely hard shopper, and right now, the best deal I is know of for the <a target="blank" href="http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/click?id=oGyiR6mHBDU&offerid=63348.374552370&type=10&subid=">PX-716A</a> is at buy.com. I researched all their current coupons and there are several ways to do this. They are discounting the normal price of $130 (pretty typical for etailers) by $10 in an <a target="blank" href="http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/click?id=oGyiR6mHBDU&offerid=63348.374552370&type=10&subid=">"instant rebate"</a> which essentially means they just lower the price by $10 in the shopping card. And then there is of course (some may not know about this) the current $30 mail-in rebate being offered by Plextor which is available at the buy.com link I gave for the Plextor, or at Plextor's website, or at many other etailers. Unfortunately by the time some may read this, that promotion may be over as it ends by the end of day Jan 31 I think. The $30 mail-in rebate goes till March 31, '05, though, and there may be one after that. Buy.com is currently doing free shipping on this drive (plus tax if purchased in California). So after rebates and before tax, $90, not bad; best I could find. Perhaps more importantly though is that they have a 30-day no-questions-asked return policy with no restocking fee (more and more unusual).
I did some price search engines and even the NewEgg price is higher right now. I noticed that they just lowered it from $130 by $6 to $124 with free shipping--pretty good, but still $4 more and they have a restocking fee. Probably trying to compete w/Buy.com's deal. I hate buy.com's customer service (Indian, not very responsive, sometimes not at all) but at least they have the return policy. NewEgg's service is apparently American and more responsive, but there's a restocking fee even on DOA refunds (as I recently experienced).
I monitor the bargains watch pages and Buy.com has been doing some "new customers only" type promotions. There is a <a target="_blank" href="http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/click?id=oGyiR6mHBDU&offerid=63348.10000630&type=3&subid=0">$10 off $150</a> coupon in computers, software, etc. for new customers. But that too expires end of Jan 31 too, and it seems the Plextor won't count towards the $150 threshold due to the current $10 discount on that item.
The really cool and convenient thing is that I saw there is now a $10 rebate on the MCC004 / MCC 004 DVD's, also at Buy.com. They are sold as <a target="_blank" href="http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/click?id=oGyiR6mHBDU&offerid=63348.379879938&type=10&subid=">Verbatim 16x DVD+R model 95033</a> 25-piece spindle. Buy.com has the Verbatim rebate PDF form posted. This rebate period ends Feb 15, so that's good. I tried to find it elsewhere, but neither Newegg nor Amazon currently have something like this posted. The Verbatim rebate form says that the DVD+R's must be purchased "from select e-tailers", but then doesn't list them?! I went to Verbatim's website and not only did I not find the list of participating retailers, I couldn't even find the rebate itself. Current price is $21.64 - $10 MIR = $11.64/25, around $23.25 for 50, almost as cheap as the low-speed cheap stuff. Although I couldn't find any current other rebate participators, little matter because this is the best price I could find before rebate anyway, as there is free shipping on this item on orders over $25, and the rebate is good up to 3 packs, so I picked up 3.
The rebate form didn't mention if the rebates had to be submitted separately, or if they could be submitted together. I searched and apparently the MCC004's are only being sold in 25-pack spindles from Verbatim, not 50's or 100's (not sure if sold under any other brand names?).
MCC004's from my ogling of the PI/PIF scans have been getting the lowest error rates (PIF's in particular) on the PX-716A from what I've seen. Which is good, and I'd rather have it that way, as their Metal Azo is apparently the longest-lasting dye in their industry; Azo of any type is generally considered better than any non-AZO dye.
Newegg has them for $20 but shipping is $4, probably on each spindle. And no rebate is listed there, as of this posting. The 95033 is also listed on Amazon, but there's no rebate there as of this post, and it is offered through eMerchant Office Depot so you'd pay shipping and tax anywhere. I'd rather purchase anything (directly) from Amazon than buy.com because Amazon has better service and better policies. But with their eMerchants, you're not really buying from Amazon, you're buying 'through' it from the Merchant with their policies (no Super Saver shipping). Unfortunately (and somewhat surprisingly), Amazon.com does not have the PX-716A in stock (unless you want to order a 10-pack!). They do have the DW1620 (kind of hard to find right now) (currently $75), but it is offered through Amazon's TigerDirect eMerchant, who I really avoid from experiences I've read (who knows, they may be good now), but you'd pay shipping on it anyway.
Thanks for the constructive input helping me to make my decision. Anyone feel free to answer any remaining q's as it'll be some time before mine arrives. Thanks, guys.