I've been mostly happy with my 708A, but now and then it acts very oddly when reading data CDs. This problem usually occurs when I try to copy a full CD to my HD. The drive will grind to nearly a halt, sometimes after reading a large portion of the disc, sometimes right away. It tries to speed up for a second or two, but eventually it slows back down to a crawl. If I abort the copy and try again, it seems stuck in low-speed mode. It doesn't recover until I pop the disc out and insert it again. But if I try to read the CD again, this story repeats itself.
The disc will eventually get read, but I don't understand why it slows severely, and why the 708A can't seem to recover its composure until I eject the disc.
I noticed this behavior when copying a backup CD-R, but it also happens with commercial CDs (for instance, when I copy my Windows XP CD to the HD, after about 350 MB it grinds to a crawl). Consequently I don't think I'm dealing with bad source CDs. In fact, they read just fine in my generic Dell at work. Smaller CDs copy just fine because it only seems to happen toward the end of the CD (or after several minutes of continuous reading). [Edit: See update; the preceeding observation is not accurate.] None of the CDs in question are scratched or damaged.
What's strange is that I have no trouble with audio CD DAE (I just extracted 50 CDs using PlexTools, many at 17-40X CAV), and I can copy commercial DVDs to my HD just fine.
Any help would be appreciated. I have the latest firmware (1.06) and I'm running XP (fresh install). I have an nForce2 motherboard, so I'm using the generic Windows IDE drivers instead of the ones from NVIDIA, which are known to cause trouble. The 708A is a slave on the secondary IDE bus (250GB drive is the master), but the problem also occurs with the 708A as the sole IDE master.
I wish there was a tool that could tell me what the drive is thinking when it slows down, because I'm out of ideas.