Plextor Corporation has been a familiar name in the optical drive business for many years. Though known primarily for manufacturing SCSI products, Plextor has recently tested the waters with ATAPI CD-RWs. Their first effort, the Plextor 8/4/32, won acclaim from numerous publications both online and in print. Now they've released a follow-up, the 12/10/32A (model # PX-W1210TA), featuring BURN-Proof technology licensed from Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd. Basically, this technology allows the drive's recording laser to pause in the event the buffer runs dry to allow time for it to refill with data before resuming recording. This simple, yet new concept, claims to virtually eliminate all failed burns.
Plextor's ATAPI contender comes to the table with many of the same specs as the recently reviewed PX-W124TSi SCSI burner. For example, it writes at a maximum of 12X CLV, reads CDs at 14X-32X CAV speeds, and includes the same 1-year warranty with unlimited toll-free tech support as well as nearly identical accessories in the retail package. For details on included accessories, as well as our impressions of the included Plextor Manager 2000 software, please read the Introduction of our PX-W124TSi review. Finally, like the 12/4/32, this drive also includes a digital CD audio out. For full drive specifications, please click here.
Differences include the BURN-Proof technology, 10X rewrite speeds, ATAPI interface, as well as the lack of a fan and only a single LED (cost-cutting choices, no doubt). The LED is set up to illuminate green when the drive is idle with media inserted; yellow when a disc is being read from; and amber when a disc is being written to. This took some getting used to, as every time we saw the green light, we thought the drive was busy when in fact it was idle (just displaying that there was a disc in the drive). Also different are the specified random access times (at 150ms, 10ms quicker than the 12/4/32), the buffer size (2048KB vs. the 12/4/32's 4096KB), and obviously, the price. Typical pricing online for the retail package is about $270, with prices as low as $250 spotted. This is about $60 less than Plextor's SCSI 12/4/32. Finally, Plextor does not include the CD Res-Q disaster recovery/imaging software that comes with the SCSI 12/4/32.
Our test unit came with firmware revision 1.02, which we used for all tests. Recently, a 1.04 revision was released, but because of publication deadlines, as well as assurances from Plextor that 1.04 would not affect our tests, we did not retest with the newly released firmware.
Lastly, as is typically the case with 32X max readers, noise levels were very low and the drive did not heat up much beyond a lukewarm level during extended use.
Moving forward to inspect the drive's performance, we begin our examination with how the 12/10/32A performs as a CD reader.