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Plextor 708A Review

Plextor 708A Specifications

Write Support
  • DVD-R (4.7GB General Discs Only)
  • DVD-RW
  • DVD+R
  • DVD+RW
  • CD-R
  • CD-RW
Read Support
  • DVD-ROM single layer/dual layer
  • DVD-R
  • DVD-RW
  • DVD+R
  • DVD+RW
  • CD-ROM Mode 1
  • CD-ROM XA Mode 2 (form 1, form 2)
  • CD-TEXT Read & Write
  • Photo CD (single & multiple session)
  • CD-DA (Audio CD)
  • CD-R
  • CD-RW
Write Speed
  • DVD-R 4X, 2X, 1X (CLV)
  • DVD+R 6X-8X (ZCLV), 4X, 2.4X (CLV)
  • DVD-RW 2X, 1X-CLV
  • CD-R 40X (PCAV), 32X (PCAV), 16X, 8X, 4X (CLV)
  • CD-RW 24X,10X, 4X (CLV)
Read Speed
  • DVD-ROM Max. 12X - 5X (CAV)
  • DVD-R, DVD-RW 2X (Older Media)
  • DVD-R, DVD-RW 6X (High Speed DVDR Media)
  • Video CD 4X CLV
  • CD-ROM Max. 40X CAV
  • CD-RW Max. 40X CAV
  • CD-Audio Max. 32X-CAV

Access Time Access Time <100 ms for CD; 150 ms for DVD

Interface ATAPI (ATA/ATAPI-5 & SFFC INF8090 Ver.5)

Data Buffer 2MBytes

Mounting Orientation Horizontal

Dimensions (W x H x D): 146 x 41,3 x 190 mm

Net Weight 1.1 kg 2 lbs. 7 oz


Our Test Machine's Specs:

Pentium 4 1.5GHz (not over clocked)


DELL (Custom) Motherboard

1 x Maxtor 20GB Hard Disk




Plextor Introduction

Plextor is a well known brand in the CD/DVD optical field, the company is a division of SHINANO KENSHI which was founded in 1918 and is part of their Electronic Equipment Division. PLEXTOR CD-R/RW drives were introduced in 1998 with technologies developed by the corporation in support of the market growing demand for CD-ROM’s. High performance drives enable their users to write and re-write data on a stable platform that has evolved throughout the years.

The Plextor PX-708A is the sequel to Plextor's PX-504A dvd writer. The PX-504A was only a DVD "+" drive and could not write to dvd "-" (dash) disks. It supported writing "+R" at 4x, 2.4x DVD+RW recording, 16x CD-R recording and 10x CD-RW re-writing speeds.

Plextor's latest drive can not only write to "+RW/+R" disks but also "-RW/-R" (dash format) disks, the 708A is also the world first 8X speed dvd writer. The writing capabilities of the 708A are impressive it supports: 8X "+R" recording, 4X "+RW" recording, 4X "-R" recording, 2x "-RW" recording, 40X CD-R writing and 24X CD-RW writing.

The Plextor 708A is also feature packed offering advanced technology that other drives do not, this includes VariRec, PoweRec and SMARTBurn.


VariRec, the Variable Recording function allows the user to adjust the laser power when writing to an AUDIO disk ensuring that a better quality CD disk is produced.

VariRec can change the value of the laser power. The resulting effects are:

  • change of sound quality of recorded disc (there should be a slight change, some kind of effect when VariRec is used on the different settings)
  • change of playability or compatibility with Home CD Players or Car CD Players (some players need a slightly higher or lower laser power)
  • Most audio professionals have a personal preference for higher/lower laser power (some even say they can hear the difference between a recording at high speed and at 1X)

PoweRec stands for Plextor Optimised Writing Error Reduction Control and the Plextor PX-708A uses version II of it (which is compatible with DVDs).

The PowerRec feature checks disks that are inserted and compares them to see if they are supported. The disk is checked with a table in its firmware and it knows what laser power to select and the correct speed at which to burn at. PoweRec will monitor the progress of a CD / DVD continuously checking its characteristics and if its creating too many write errors it will adjust the write strategy for the disk.


Buffer UnderRuN Proof is a technique that whereby if the Plextor's 2MB recording buffer empties, recording is halted until the buffer is full again. Normally on older drives this would cause an error and also a wasted disk, since the recording laser couldn't remember where it stopped.


Mount Rainier is a standard that provides background formatting and defect management for storage on CD-RW and DVD+RW. This makes rewritable discs far easier to use and allows the replacement of the floppy.

Key building blocks of Mount Rainier

- Defect management by the drive: The responsibility for handling physical defects is where the defects can be handled optimally: inside the drive. Otherwise, file-systems (or/and applications) need to have knowledge of drive/media defect characteristics & capabilities, which is more complex. CD-ROM’s will be able to read Mount-Rainier compliant discs through a generic read-driver, allowing read-back in legacy systems.
- Logical write-addressing at 2k: Current CD-RW requires a block-size of 64 kB, while most data systems are based on 2k or 4k addressing capabilities. The Mount-Rainier functionality has defined 2k logical addressing as a mandatory support requirement for drives. This will allow file-system and caching capabilities of the host to be transparent for the media related block-size.
- Background formatting: “Time to use" is one of the key improvement areas of Mount Rainier, adding high value to the end-user. With current CD-RW, the user must wait for the formatting process to complete before writing data to a new disc. The Mount Rainier specification will allow a user to drag and drop data within seconds after insertion & spin-up of the disc. Invisible to the host, a background formatting sequence will be performed by the drive. Fast eject is possible, keeping full compatibility with CD-ROM and DVD-ROM readers.
- Command set implementation: Mount-Rainier compliant drives need to implement a mandatory command-set for data-use, fitting MMC-3 structure.
- Compatibility: The focus is on the compatibility of the solution with future and existing hardware-platforms. This includes CD-ROM read compatibility for systems with native-OS support and for legacy systems. For the latter case, a generic read-driver is available.
- Standardization: On drive/media level it is standardized by specifications from the Mount Rainier group. On Interface level Mount Rainier is standardized through MMC.

What the package includes

The package contains:

Plextor PX-708A DVD±RW Drive
Plextor PX-708A Quick Installation Manual
Warranty Procedure Guide
Pinnacle Studio 8SE (DVD Authoring Software) CD
IDE Cable
Bag of screws and emergency eject tool

A software CD containing:

PlexTools Professional
Operation Manual (on CD)

Depending on which country you purchased the drive from you may see a different software package.

On the front of drive you will find a headphone socket, a volume control, an emergency eject hole and one multipurpose LED. According to sources you can determine the drives writing speed by monitoring the blink rate. It also has three logos on the front advertising the drive's support for DVD-R/RW, DVD+Re-writable and Ultra Speed (24) CD-RW disks.

In the picture below you can see a black strip on the front of the drive (this is the tray). Plextor claims that black tray lowers jitter and produces better CDs / DVDs.


Front of the DVR A05

The back of the drive looks very similar to any other ATAPI CD drive (and Pioneer DVD recorders).

You will find the usual connectors: jumpers for making the drive a Master/Slave/Cable Select, an analogue audio output connector, a digital audio output connector and a power connector. BTW: The drive has an extra jumper for disabling UDMA 33 support (on by DEFAULT and since its the best transfer mode we left the jumper alone).

Fanless DVR-A05 drive

Page 1 - Last Updated: 25 November 2003



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