Variation among TLA #0304 drives

This is a follow-up to this and this thread. There has been some talk of variation within drives, even within TLA series. There is of course not much to say if your drive is patently defective (bad vibrations, burning coasters on great media, etc.), but I wanted to relate an experience where both drives were satisfactory but one was much better than the other.

I purchased a TLA #0304, Made in China, February 2005 Plextor PX-716a from Fry’s in Palo Alto about a week ago. I burned a few coasters that were probably related to my using a 40-pin IDE cable and hanging a hard drive as a slave off the same cable. Anyway, after fixing all that, I started burning OK discs from a PIE standpoint, but which were far from satisfactory in the TA tests. Even the PIE graphs paled by comparison to zevia’s scan on the same media. Ultimately I decided that something wasn’t quite right, so I went back to Fry’s today and got a replacement drive. Incidentally, there was an 0203 on the shelves and I thought long and hard about whether to pick it up or not. Ultimately, I wanted to be able to provide some useful info to this forum and the only way to do that was to eliminate as many confounding factors as possible. Ceteris paribus, if you will.

What follows are scans of 8x burns of the same data with the old and new drives (referred to as OLD and NEW below) read by the new drive. This is the only consistent way to compare performance. In fact, the PIE scans made by the new drive are much worse (more representative of the quality of the disc) than the scans of the same disc on the old drive. This indicates that the read and write performance of a drive are highly correlated.

I hope this thread will serve to indicate how one might go about evaluating a new drive. Please exercise level-headed restraint: note that even my new PX-716a does not remotely approach the quality of zevia’s scan on the same media (but with an older TLA), and that the SUM1 test is problematic. There may be 0304 drives out there with even better performance than mine, but I’m satisfied that I finally have a decently working drive. Nevertheless, I would be much obliged if someone with an 0304 model and ProdiscF01 discs could make an 8x burn and pass along a comparative scan ;).

And now, the scans.

ProdiscF01 8x DVD-R burned @8x
Plextor PX-716A TLA0304 fw1.04. Media sold as Fuji DVD-R 8x 50 pack (Made in Taiwan).

AutoStrategy ON, PowerRec ON, BurnProof ON.

OLD followed by NEW

Note: the POE max on the new drive’s scan was attained at the thicker 3.5 GB and 4 GB marks. These correspond to the PIF spikes in the SUM1 test (see next reply).

ProdiscF01 8x DVD-R burned @8x
Plextor PX-716A TLA0304 fw1.04. Media sold as Fuji DVD-R 8x 50 pack (Made in Taiwan).

AutoStrategy ON, PowerRec ON, BurnProof ON.

OLD followed by NEW

well we do know one change from 02–>03 drives they added the -R DL icon to the tray.
It could be the only change. :iagree:

ProdiscF01 8x DVD-R burned @8x
Plextor PX-716A TLA0304 fw1.04. Media sold as Fuji DVD-R 8x 50 pack (Made in Taiwan).

AutoStrategy ON, PowerRec ON, BurnProof ON.

OLD followed by NEW

Result: BAD vs Very Good

ProdiscF01 8x DVD-R burned @8x
Plextor PX-716A TLA0304 fw1.04. Media sold as Fuji DVD-R 8x 50 pack (Made in Taiwan).

AutoStrategy ON, PowerRec ON, BurnProof ON.

OLD followed by NEW

Result: Not Good vs Very Good

OK, I’ll stop now :). The outer TA test was also “Not Good” vs “Very Good.”

I forgot to mention, in case anyone is interested, that my new drive is also TLA #0304, Made in China, February 2005. It is in all ways identical to the old copy, but with distinctly better results!

I have seen two different 0304 drives and neither had the -R DL logo on the tray face, just the normal +R DL one.


  1. As mentioned in the other thread, Prodisc is not a recommended media and it varies from disk to disk. It means that although my scan you referred is excellent but I may not be able to get that kind of scan when I burn another one.
  2. Try using one of the recommended media: TY, if you live near BestBuy, YUDEN000T02 under Fujifilm DVD+R 8x Made in Japan is on sale now, $19.99 for 50pack. Try burning it @8x or 12x.

Good luck.

Thanks for that comparison Albireo.  My TLA #0304 PX-716SA (made in January 2005 in China) seems to be similar to your second drive.  I use only TY, Verbatim/Mitsubishi, and Ricoh made DVD media, so I cannot make a comparison to your scans.  My first PX-716SA (TLA #0203) had quality problems--similar to your first drive.  I just RMA'd it to Newegg, after purchasing my new TLA #0304 716SA from Microcenter.  My 16X burns to Verbatim 16X DVD+R on my first bad drive had a horrible PIE spike that made the discs unreadable--this spike would occur just after the 3 GB mark.  Also, this drive had trouble reading CDs.  The new TLA #0304 drive seems to have very good quality overall, except for its CD-R write quality, which is acceptable, but clearly needs improvement in a future firmware upgrade.

I forgot to reply to this: my 0304 drive only has the DVD+R DL badge, no -R DL logo to be seen.

zevia: Thanks for the encouraging words. I’ll give the Fuji DVD+R TY a try tomorrow and get back with the results.


I seen about 4 all had -R DL icon on tray, all came from best buy or fry’s

There is no -R DL icon on the front of my PX-716A TLA#0304


IMHO your test cannot give a answer to your question. While i’m convinced that there is a certain variance in the hardware of the drives (between different TLA# as well as inside the same TLA#) there is (more importantly) also one in the media (between different packages of the same brand as well as inside the same package!).

Now you are using Prodisc media for your test which, IMHO, is not exactly known as a top performer (this still flatters the producer). I would expect a rather wide variance within different pieces of this media. A variance far more pronounced than any expected variance in hardware (except plain defects). If you really want to get a meaningful result, you’d have to minimize the risk of variance in the media as much as possible and use a known high quality media.

I think nowadays people tend to blame the hardware for bad burn results far to quickly (two bad burns on the same media, yeah the hardware must be junk). However, is the hardware between the different drive manufacturers really that different? I don’t think so. I my personal experience any writing beyond 8x speed is far more dependant on a constant good media quality than on the drive hardware. Anything written at 12x or even 16x mercilessly reveals variances in quality of the media. Simple issues that go unnoticed at 4x or 8x get amplified (sometimes by multiple factors) at faster speeds.

I think people are worrying far to much about TLA# (without even knowing the slightest thing behind it) while being far to stingy when spending a few bucks on good quality media.

i think one change to the #0304 is a newer pick up!on th eplextor Asia Site, is a note with “new Pick Up” on the PX-716a!

I guess you have not clicked on it? :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

if you click on it, you come to the PX-712, but the New Pick Up Info is fpr the PX-716a

KenW, my 0304 unit does not have the -R DL icon on it’s tray!!!

The “New Pick Up!” note you are referring to is just Jenglish (japanese-english) for “New arrival!”

These are good points, hwp. I actually wasn’t being stingy: Fuji DVD-R 8x Prodisc costs the same as Fuji DVD+R 8x TY. I just pulled my favorite type of discs (DVD-R) from my favorite manufacturer of writeable optical discs (Fuji) off the shelf. Needless to say, I wasn’t impressed when I got back home. :frowning:

I cannot disagree with your criticism of my “test setup,” although in this case it is a bit severe. Earlier I had remarked that people should take an average of several burns/scans in order to arrive at a more useful figure. Until there is a consistent way to do this, I decided to eyeball several otherwise identical burns and choose a representative result.

As it happens, the NEW burn was the disc on the spindle directly below the OLD burn. This NEW burn resulted in pretty much the same performance as the next four discs – about a 30-40% variation in Total PIE figures, if you’re interested – while burning the same data (I’m going through these Fuji DVD-Rs like water because I don’t trust them anymore). If I get around to it, I can post all five PIE results if you wish, although I think it will be a bit overkill. The OLD disc was actually better than the previous handful of burns, again using the same data – the others had large sections of PIE >> 280, for example.

I have indeed observed variations in burn quality with the same drive and media, even over different times of day (and temperatures). I need to do some statistics on my past results with the old drive, but I can say with 100% confidence that no variation even remotely amounted to the nearly five-fold difference in Total PIE results that you can see above. Moreover, none of my old discs ever exceeded a “Good” TA rating on any parts of the disc; the vast majority was “Not Good.” In this light, I feel confident that the conclusion of my “test” remains the same: that my old drive was a worse DVD burner compared to the new one.