When the drive first arrived...it had firmware 1.00 on it. So I went to Plextor and downloaded 1.01. Flashed it...funny...I remember the first flash taking forever, much longer than I had ever experienced flashing any of my other Plextor drives Rebooted and did some burns. Everything seemed fine...so I tried a DL burn and couldn't get it over 4X....I only use Verbatim MMC 001 DL +R and knew that they were supposed to burn at 8X. Nero Infotool also stated that but burns would not exceed 4X. Did more 16X SL burns and the times were running a bit slow..around 6:40 for Verbatim DVD+R and DVD-R 16X...went back to Plextor...redownloaded and reflashed 1.01...only this time it took much less time. Tried another DL burn and this time it took 15:10 and burned all the way through at 8X. So I thought I'd test the drive with more DL media...stripped a few movies that I wanted to save the originals, using DVD Decrypter. Stripped the first in .iso mode and then wrote in iso mode as well...8X all the way. Then I stripped a second movie file by file and used Nero to burn it to disk...again 8X DL again (8.2 GB in 14:55)....all seemed good. So I tried more SL Verbatims...this time...my Plex 716A came back from Plextor (the 0308 one)...so I tested it thoroughly and found it in good working order. So I did some media tests using the PX-716A and disks I had burned with the 740A. Most of the SL disks came back BAD on the outer zone...found this somewhat "wierd"...then I went to test the DL disks that I had burned and the 716A wouldn't recognize any of them (even though my PX-708A would read them as well as all the DVD Players in the house-the only other drive that would NOT recognize was the DVD burner in my laptop-Toshiba). Thought this was strange...maybe firmware related...so I downloaded the European 1.01 firmware and flashed. Did more 16X SL burns and each time the outer zone would fail in Plextools 2.24b. Then I did some DL burns and the first layer would burn at 8X and the second layer at 4X.....burns got longer. So I called Plextor and that's when I met the first tech who gave me some story about Verbatim media going south, qualitywise and Plextor taking them off the approved list. He blamed the media...but if it would make me happy...try flashing the firmware again...so I did...went back to the American 1.01 (really don't think there's a differrence...same file size, etc). Tried more DL burns and again 8X layer 1...4X layer 2. SL disks kept coming back BAD on outer zone as well. Then I did more testing with Verbatim DVD-R SL 16X...tests were good. Then tried more DL burns...again 8X / 4X....Getting pretty mad at this point...so I flashed the firmware in safe mode (remember tech telling me to do this with my 716A when it was failing last month). Booted back into windows...and same problems...gave up and called Plextor...that's when I talked to a tech who remembered me from my 716A problems. We chatted a bit...he asked me some questions and then had me start a DL burn and sat on the phone until layer 1 was complete...then the drive paused for almost 10 seconds...and started burning layer 2. That's when he determined that the laser was not refocusing properly...changing layers should NOT take that long. He paused a long time and told me it was RMA time. Told him I was not too happy after my 716 episode to find a bad 740A...he said not to worry...as they always do...would replace with a brand new 740A. Honestly...Plextor tech support has always been good to me. I approach with a sense of humor and polite...and they are the same...very accomodating. This one tech in particular knows his stuff. He even told me not to get too worried about what the first tech said about Verbatim. He did, however, ask the other tech's name...told him and he just said "Oh"...the long and short of it...I guess that there may have been a mechanical problem in the 740A that manifested itself through the flashing of the firmware. Even the tech said that it should not have hurt the drive to flash it that many times. Oh, well...another week to wait and get a new drive back from Plextor.
Funny thing...after the final 1.01 flash...the 716A and my Toshiba DVD-R drive in the laptop recognized the DL disks...even did a test on the last burn with Plextools on the 716A and all 6 zones ranged from Good to Very Good...go figure that out!