Thanks for the comments. I had posted another thread “Plextor 708A issues,” in this forum a few days ago and received some valuable suggestions. It seems to me that there are two options for me: (1) try to improve the burn quality of 708A and wait for the new firmware, if at all, that would enable me to do booktype and/or DL; or (2) upgrade to a new drive: PX 712 or NEC 3500 or Pioneer 108. While waiting for your inputs, I did the following experiment.
I upgraded my firmware to version 1.07. So far, I have burn-tested two DVD’s using Verbatim 8x DVD+R MCC-003-00 and Sony RICOHJPN-R01-02, and setting the burn speed at 8x. These two DVD’s were played on my standalone DVD player without any pixelation or freezing. What I noticed during the burn are the followings:
(1) Firmware 1.04 and burn speed at 8x: it immediately started out at 6x. At about 1/6 of the completion, the speed was sharply accelerated to 8x and remained at 8x for the rest of the burn process.
(2) Firmware 1.07 and burn speed at 8x: it also immediately began at 6x. At about 1/6 of the completion, instead of accelerating, the speed was decreased smoothly all the way to 4x and then was increased all the way to 8x in a span of 5 seconds. The speed remained to be 8x for the rest of the process and of course reduced to 0x at the very end of the disk. Visually speaking, there is a “valley” on the speed vs completion graph. The time it took was 8 minutes and a few seconds.
According to my observation, I guess the Plextor engineers and scientists might have thought that the sudden increase in speed, and among other things, could be a causative factor for pixelation and freezing problems on the consumers’ standalone DVD players whose pre-installed laser cannot keep up with the sharp increase in speed of the recording data. As a result, they inserted this “valley” to solve these problems.
Furthermore, as far as I know with the current DVD recording technology available to the mass consumer market, for burn speed set at 8x or higher the initial speed cannot start at 8x or higher. The speed has to start out at a lower than the set speed and then increases to whatever max speed the device is technically capable of doing. How long a drive canremain to be at its highest technically capable speed is another story. Please don’t take me too literally with the meaning of the term “starting speed.” Due to “inertia,” it takes some time (a few seconds) to go from a completely static position to whatever speed that the firmware allows the drive to be at. As a result, the starting speed that I’m talking about here is the speed right after the “inertia” period. Anyhow, I think this is the critical source of the problem.
In all of my burns, I have only used either RICOHJPN-R01-02 (made by various brands: Sony, Maxwell, TDK, Memorex, and Fujifilm) and MCC-003-00 8x DVD+R by Verbatim.
My standalone DVD player would play anything that I throw at it, which suggests that the pixelation and freezing problems are not player-specific problems.
Once again, thanks for you all’s inputs, which gave me some direction and inclination to conduct the above scientific like experiment. I hope the above observation will somehow explain some of our mysteries about this drive. On the other hand, the 3500 seems to be a very viable upgrade option. However, if my 708A with the 1.07 firmware continues to behave, I’ll be able to afford more time to wait a little longer (probably until Christmas) for newer technology or more matured 16x technology.