PX-716A pre-[re]view

Hi all. Got my <a target="_blank" href=“http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/click?id=oGyiR6mHBDU&offerid=63348.374552370&type=10&subid=”>PX-716A from buy.com</a>, but not yet my <a target="_blank" href=“http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/click?id=oGyiR6mHBDU&offerid=63348.379879938&type=10&subid=”>Verbatim MCC004 DVD+R’s</a>, which DVD’s were shipped by some no-name shipper. The Plextor was shipped via UPS and arrived literally the next day.

I immediately went through the manual and did some thinking. For those who are interested, I imagine mainly those considering purchase of a PX-716A, this is my “pre-[re]view”… some things I’ve remarked before installation. I know it’s long, but some will appreciate my level of detail.

If this is too long for you, don’t read it, please:

  • TLA# 0203, manufactured “January 2005”.

  • Drive has a pretty solid feel, kind of heavy. Made in China, though. Drive has a “poisonous Chinese factory” smell, which makes me feel very bad for those people who work there.

  • I the 716A is also a little less-long than competing drives, which is nice for a guy who always has his hands in his case.

  • The <a target="_blank" href=“http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/click?id=oGyiR6mHBDU&offerid=63348.374552370&type=10&subid=”>PX-716A from buy.com</a>, and retail boxes from other locations, as others have noticed, do include a certificate for either 15 “free” 16x DVD-R’s or 50 52x CD-R’s. The brand name is “Disc Makers Ultra” from Disc Makers at diskmarket.com (didn’t they used to print CD’s for independent artists?). There is a card inside with a code and a URL and you pay $5 for shipping. There are a number of other discount coupons/advertisements included, but the Disc Makers one is the only one really interesting to me.

  • The C2 error checking capability of this drive is useful for digital audio extraction for programs which can take advantage of that (like EAC), not just Plextools DAE. That I’m happy about, but BenQ offers it, too. BenQ IMHO is still superior here as freeware Nero CD-DVD Speed will do the most important checks all at once, instead of one by one with Plextor, which Nero CD-DVD Speed does not support (does anyone know why?).

  • The “A” in PX-716A apparently stands for “ATA”. PX-716SA stands for “Serial ATA”.

  • The package does include two beefy manuals of equal size: one English and one French, no Spanish etc. Much of it is spent on hardware installation. The printed manual does not go very in-depth into Plextools’ features, but is more an overview of them. There is literally no mention of Plextools Digital Audio Extraction that I saw. They do spend a good bit on error checking, though.

  • Gigarec looks like an exciting CD-R feature but only burns at “4x or 8x” (no indication how it chooses), which dampens the joy. It’ll be interesting to see how compatible they are with audio CD players, but the manual says don’t expect the world. Unclear at this time if you can combine Gigarec and PoweRec, but I assume you could.

  • The usefulness, necessity, or ease of use of PoweRec is not clear to me from reading the manual. But people on the group seem to leave it on all the time for best recording quality, only turning it off apparently to achieve 16x at risk of lower quality.

  • SecuRec (encryption program for data burning) is a curious feature which seems only mildly useful. The encryption is low-grade, suitable for keeping your diaries safe from your roommates or whatever. There are freeware and trialware/permanent-free-readback strong encryption programs aplenty, and although I think people should use encryption more, most people simply don’t care. SecuRec requires less thinking than other encryption, though; so easy that you could perhaps forget it’s activated.

  • Included Hardware: Drive comes with a blank Verbatim 16x DVD+R, looks like AZO to me. Most people know it includes a black spare bezel. Also includes an IDE cable, 4 mounting screws, an extra jumper, and (what I thought was nice) an emergency eject pin (no more unbending paper clips).

  • Included Software (other than Plextools):
    Roxio Easy Media Creator 7 Basic DVD Edition (a kind of front-end), which includes:
    DVD Builder (video editor/capture),
    Disc Copier,
    Disc Creator Classic (music burning),
    and Drag-to-Disc packet writing (WooHoo!)/DLA (drive letter access) software. I was very happy to see decent packet writing software included with this drive. BenQ includes Sonic DLA, which is considered a superior packet writing program (sold for $30 as a standalone), but considering that the BenQ only gets up to 4x +RW, the salt loses some of its savor. Ahead/Nero’s InCD packet writing software is considered by most to be worse than either of these two. I’ve used InCD and I’m not fond of it, so it’ll be nice to have a change. I understand that some drives, i.e. Pioneers, don’t include any packet writing software.

  • Price of DW1620 vs PX-716A can be pretty close ($90 delivered recently for 716A after rebate, $70-$80 delivered=good price for DW1620), but with the BenQ you don’t hassle with the rebate.

  • Anecdotal reports suggest the 716A is quieter than the BenQ with riplock removed. I admit this would be a major plus for me, noise reputation being a major reason I didn’t go with a Lite-On again (being a Lite-On owner).

  • I wonder in advance how many 16x burning problems are the result of peoples’ hard drives not being able to keep up. Transfer rates these days are awfully fast. Over 4 gigs in 6 to 12 minutes? I thought 700MB in 3 minutes was fast. I know the theoretical speeds of hard drives, but those of us who have done inter-drive transfers know that “real-world” hard drive speeds are often much lower, and HD speeds are faster now than they were.

  • TV Tuner card softwares/PVR programs are beginning to be able to record directly to recordable or rewriteable DVD. Very exciting.

  • Autostrategy has possibly given the 716A an unwarranted bad rep by some, as some users report burning coasters with cheap media, but those who follow this board closely have seen some thoughtfully-made superimposed quality check graphs which show how well it actually “adapts” to unknown media, albeit taking 2 disks to ‘learn’. Since Plextor kind of stuck its neck out on this feature, perhaps they’ll stick out there necks a little again and let users manually activate Autostrategy for known media. (Or perhaps we’ll have some geniuses reverse engineer & modify the firmware? I guess dream on…)

  • Buy.com customer service (for anything other than robotic things) is bogus; they have no empowerment and don’t care about customers, but there IS a 30-day MBG with no restocking fee. A $55 video card from NewEgg which was DOA recently cost me $15 to return, including return shipping which NewEgg did not reimburse. Wasn’t happy about that. Amazon recently cross-shipped a defective item with 2-day shipping, provided a prepaid return label, and even gave me 30 days to send back the original. Now that’s service, and I got free shipping to begin with, so I stick w/them if possible. I’ll pay more for that, but the PX-716A is unavailable there right now.

Pre-installation/features conclusion:
The 716A’s 8x DVD+RW capability (BenQ’s DW1620 only does 4x) will hopefully in the long run outweigh in convenience for me the inconvenience of the 716A’s inability to use Nero CD-DVD Speed’s ‘Disk Quality Check’. So far, these are the biggest differences between the drives that I can see. The others are 716A’s DVD overburning and CD Gigarec capability (.9 Giga-rec, more like it).

Now lets see some scans… oh I forgot you don’t have any media yet?

about the Gigarec feature,i did 1.2X gigarec @8x on TY and the cds played in every cd player i could try them in (car cd players,discman…etc)

i vouch for GigaRec as well…but done on a Plexwriter Premium. believe it was 1.2X or whatever gets like 90-100 mins. played on 3 diff standalone cd players, all PC drives, and 1 10disc car changer system.