TLA# 0304 NOT as good as TLA# 0203?



OK, I picked up a 716A at Best Buy (Maryland, U.S.) earlier this month. It was a TLA 0203, manufactured in January 2005. I switched to the black face plate and tray end and have been burning happily away. It’s been burning happily everything I throw at it, including 4X rated “RICOHJPNR01” (Memorex branded), 4X “CMCMAGF01” (HP branded), 8X “YUDEN000T02” (Fuji branded), and 8X “MCC 003” (Verbatim branded). These are all DVD+R single layer media. I’ve also successfully produced four “MKM 001” (Verbatim branded) dual layer discs at 4X speed. I produced no coasters, unlike I sometimes got with the media on my LiteOn 1633S drive (I always got coaster with the Ritek DL media on the LiteOn drive).

The only think I found that was strange was that I was able to reproduce what someone else in the forum found and confirmed with Plextor tech support - some audio CDs will only rip at 8X CLV speed. Strange considering there is only one session, and it’s audio, and it’s not copy protected. Speed read does not help.

So, I was pleased enough to go purchase another drive, this time I received a TLA 0304, manufactured in February 2005. I took out the 0203 and put the 0304 drive in the same computer to compare.

I burned a RICOHJPNR01 at 4X (I like to do all video normally at 4X, and usually only do data a higher speeds). All went well, and it finished up at a bit less than 15 minutes burn time.

Then I burned the same image (a nero .nrg DVD-VIDEO job) to a CMCMAGF01 and decided to try 8X since both Plextors offer that speed as a max. I had never tried burning this media at 8X on the TLA 0203 before. I noticed the burn didn’t go right away, and the LED alternated colors for about 2 minutes before proceeding to burn and it finished up in just shy of 16 minutes…OK, so the TLA0304 did a media check and added this media to the autostrategy database as 4X max speed. Note that the 4X burns to this CMC media on the TLA 0203 produced great scans… I then decided to throw in an MCC003 disc and burn that at 8X and I could hear it upshifting the speed, but later noticed it had slowed down! The burn ended up finishing in 12 minutes…unlike the 8 minute or less speed that 8X should produce.

To do a sanity check, I put the TLA 0203 into the machine again, and burned a CMCMAGF01 at 8X again (the autostrategy database was blank on this drive). Nero allowed it to burn at 8X, and the job finished in 8:27, and the CMC was NOT added to the autostrategy database at 4X max. Now when I looked at the disc, I saw two distinct burned regions on the dye, so I did a PIE/POF scan and it maxed out at 1400 PIE at the beginning of the scan for a while before falling to levels around 20 or so. I received no POFs.

For another experiment I tried an MCC003 in the TLA0203 at 8X, and this finished up in less than 8 minutes, as opposed to the 12 minutes that it took in the TLA0304 drive.

So, does this mean that the TLA0304 is NOT as good as the TLA0203 at burning certified (and good brand) 8X media? Or, from the CMC results, is the conclusion that the TLA0304 correctly identified the CMC media as 4X max and added it to the autostrategy database, while the TLA0203 burned it happily at 8X, but created a high error disc?

It bothers me that the TLA0304 could not burn the Verbatim 8X at 8X, which even my LiteOn 1633S could do while producing good scans. On the other hand, it bothers me that the TLA0203 happily burned a CMC at 8X, and did not determine that the autostrategy should set it to 4X max.

Which is the better drive???

Ford Man


Ok it seems that you may be right but how about other media? The CMC may be problematic but there are several other brands… it is easy to say bad drive or bad media but you should test them again.


CmcMagf01 varies a lot from disc to disc. Here are some on a Benq.

first at 8x, 2nd at 4x and third at 8x. :confused:
Belive it or not all three played on a combo Symphonic VHS/DVD player without pixels or freezing.


Are both drives running with the same (and newest 1.04 updated) firmware?
If not do a firmware update!

You can check the media quality with an FE/TE Check!

Can you post an FE/TE Check of the MCC003 on the TLA0304 drive and burn one more disc, maybe it was a temporary problem that the TLA0304 drive slowed down the burnspeed!


Yes, the TLA0203 was flashed to the first version (Jan 20) of 1.04. The TLA0304 came already flashed with the exact same version. From what I’ve read on the forum, I shouldn’t bother with the updated version, since it seems to cause problems with some corrupted data for some people.

Yes, I might need to do a media quality check. I’ve read that the CMC is marginal media, but I’ve always had good luck with it at 4X, even on my LiteOn recorder. It also seems to have less visible surface imperfections than the “quality brands” like MCC and TY. Even my RicohJPN discs require sorting through to find one without damage to the polycarbonate coating on the recording side… Somehow CMC seems to do a better job of handling them in the manufacturing process.

Yes, I’ll test some more discs tonight! I like that fact that the TLA 0304 downshifted the CMC to 4X, but not that it choked at 8X on good 8X media…


I don’t think you can generalize it to mean that all 0304s are worse than 0203s or the other way around. I’ve seen many reports on this forum of every TLA that has problems. It looks like your 0304 may just be a bad one.

On the other hand, I’ve had near miraculous improvements after using fw1.04u in terms of burn quality. I’ve scanned all my media with FE-TE prior and classified it according to quality (FE-TE is a pretty good predictor of bad media). Under 1.04u, it works much better. I wouldn’t add too much weight to the couple of bad reports regarding 1.04u–there are too many variables. Most likely, it was just a bad flash due to some system irregularity. Of course, the safest way to flash a drive is in PIO mode, generally. Plextor Japan has enough confidence that they removed the original version of 1.04 and replaced it with 1.04u!


Sounds like media disc to disc variation and unit to unit variation to me. I doubt the 0203 vs 0304 is the issue at all. I’m sure a few units may be bad or marginal regardless of their hardware revision. And the not highly recommended media have lots of variation in quality from disc to disc. You would have to burn a whole 25pack spindle of the same media on both drives to get an accurate sample.


I now this is a litle “offtopic” but after i open my Plextor, and resolve my problem with the vibrations, i get allways a litle “coast” of PIE of 60, at the begining of the record!
I burn almost 7 DVD`s with the same result.

It`s a pack of 25 TDK +R 4x, that i burn before at 8x, with no more than 14 of PIE…now i get 60 at begining!!
The unit is a 0203. Firm 1.04u.

This Plextor ( others ) are mysterious entities…like a litle Box of chocolat, never nows whats is inside!
Now, my openion, the TLA#0304, seems to burn much better MCC004 at 16x, with no more “coast” at the end, wich i cannot say the same about the mine: I get a final PIE of 30! :sad: