Here’s another little positive thing I can throw about Plextor or Plextools into this forum. I discovered that GigaRec 1.2x with my PX-716A works in my iRiver IMP-350 MP3-CD player… for the most part. That means 850MB on CD-ROM instead of 700–substantial. Success depends a lot on media (not just ‘quality’ it seems, but what the 716A likes) and my burning technique (VariRec of some variety).
If I push it towards the edge of 850MB, the last 2 songs tend not to be playable even on a great burn, so I learned to put 2 “throwaway” songs at the end. I got better success just reducing the burn to around 830MB. Overburning a few megabytes past 850 produces an aborted burn (coaster) in my experience, btw.
Only works for MP3-CD’s on the iRiver, not Audio CD’s, from my memory (didn’t try gigarec with MP3 for the longest time b/c the gigarec audio cd’s didn’t work on it).
So here highlights both the unique benefit of Plextools as well as a lot of frustrating… uh, “untapped potential” I’ll put it as. GigaRec would be more useful in actually lower increments (1.2x being the lowest), such as 1.1x, 1.08x, or variable, to be readable in a greater variety of hardware. Most devices just can’t get close to handling GigaRec 1.3x at its whopping 924MB, even if the burn is good (although cool to have for home use). I still think a GigaRec 1.08x (756MB) or GigaRec 1.1x (770MB) or something even less (or something more customizable by the user) would have far more use than GR 1.3x. We’ve all UNsuccessfully overburned 25 megabytes or more onto a CD-ROM trying to make things fit onto 1 disc. A very low GigaRec option (40-55MB) would likely be playable in a very large array of hardware.
Unique abilities of Plextools swayed me to buy a Plextor, and GigaRec was one of those unique abilities. Like many other unique features (i.e. Plextools DAE–yes, there is some uniqueness to it), GigaRec’s execution was a bit of a disappointment, which was frustrating, because, just like with DAE, I saw a big potential not being met. Other advertised features bordered on fraudulent in my estimation, such as discovering that SecuRec only works on CD-ROM’s, not DVD-ROM’s, which is never mentioned in Plextor’s marketing of SecuRec, nor even in the Plextools manual itself (the SecuRec option just mysteriously disappears when you pop in a blank DVD).
I did not expect Plextools’ error checking abilities to become my most-used feature, but they did. And while I still use Alex Noe’s program for extensive DVD scanning, Plextools is still valuable for C1/C2 error checking on CD’s, and a quick PIF scan on a DVD (the main value I am concerned with).
I also use VariRec quite a lot. Maybe that’s because the 716A’s not the best CD burner to begin with. Or maybe it’s because I want to be able to have good, durable burns on media which don’t get along well with my 716A. I’m really not sure. But what I do know is that if I’m willing to wait, I can get a good burn regardless. And if I want to ensure a good-quality burn for important data, I can almost guarantee it.
I’ve also noticed that discs burned using Plextools (CD- or DVD-ROM) are more widely playable than those burned in the accompanying Roxio Easy CD/DVD Creator, and Plextools doesn’t bitch about long filenames the way Roxio does–and it still burns more compatible discs! Not without an accompanying frustration, though: that mandatory drag & drop interface is ridiculous (not to mention the non-maximizable program), and I’ve noticed that if you drop multiple folders at once, they don’t always go in alphabetically, and then appear to burn non-alphabetically, which can cause minor problems. So I now drop folders 1 at a time if I want to ensure they be added alphabetically. I’m willing to put up with this to create a more reliable disc.
There are a lot of hidden features of Plextools not discussed which we take for granted as Plextools users, such as the ability to manually add CD Text after the fact to a ripped image of an Audio CD, or automatically add it before by using freedb. Or not having to use CD/DVD Identifier extensively because of the “CD/DVD Info” section of Plextools. And many other little things, like the abillity to eject or load any of your drive trays from one program, while controlling spindown time (with accompanying frustration that it often resets itself back to 2 minutes upon eject!).
Yes, Plextools is a mixed bag. But overall, I’ve been pretty happy with it. Before my bought my 716A, I liked the idea of having a dedicated program for each function, and still do. But I’ve now appreciated the ability to control most drive functions from one “headquarters”.