I just got my replacement drive from Plextor in Ohio: TLA 0308, dated June 2005, made in China and appears to be in pristine unused condition (ie new!). Took 5 business days from the moment they received my malfunctioning drive. The packaging was a superbly manufactured top and bottom shelving consisting of a unique cardboard and thick plastic wrap window within which the pink plastic bag containing my drive was locked tight in suspension within the box. No styrofoam or packing peanuts required. The drive was well protected suspended in the plastic wrap window snugly like a baby in it's mother's womb. Absolutely ingenious! Well done Plextor.
So far I have burned one Verbatim 24X CD-R with pleasing results. This is 4 years old blank media stored in a room where temperatures range from 45 F in winter to 110 F and humid in summer. The data was burned using Nero 6.6.x set to burn at max speed and took 5:46 from start to finish.
Interestingly, the blank disc scanned with Nero CD-DVD Speed's Transfer rate test only reaches 16X speed while the burned disc in the same test reaches nearly 43X by the end. Can someone explain? I also fully erased an old Memorex CD-RW disc and burned a couple of videos onto it which performed flawlessly in my Philips DVP642 DVD player. I get a little antsy when using pre-used RW media with a new burner because I have had issues with unable to erase the disc or read the data with a new drive. The new 716A never even hiccuped. Smooth as silk so far.
The 3 images below depict this media's results. First, the Nero CD-DVD Speed's Transfer rate test on the blank disc. Second is Nero CD-DVD Speed's Transfer rate test on the burned disc. Third is the PxScan of the burned disc. Can someone explain the "sawtooth" appearance to the red beta graph? I have not experienced this before.
Overall, I'm pleased so far. More testing to come, including a head-to-head disc quality study when my new BenQ 1640 arrives. It will take a while, it will be fun, and maybe there will be some good data out of the comparison.