Not very long ago, 12X write-once speeds were the new "big thing" in burner technology. At that time, though, CD-RW media could still be written to at only 4X. Soon thereafter, RW write speeds got bumped up to 8X and 10X, along with a new "high speed only" media that could not be written to in older 4X and slower rewriters. The final piece of the puzzle that comprises today's burner was brought forth by Sanyo with their invention of BURN-Proof. This technology virtually eliminated the buffer underrun by allowing the burning process to pause if the drive's buffer had run dry. Later, Ricoh joined the fray with their own buffer underrun prevention technology, JustLink.
Meanwhile, as burner technology progressed, manufacturers started moving away from the traditional but costly SCSI interface, and ATAPI burners started making their way onto the shelves. Manufacturers discovered that a properly engineered ATAPI interface, combined with correctly configured DMA, was able to deliver performance comparable to SCSI drives. The only caveat was the vastly inferior flexibility of being limited to two devices per ATA channel (realistically, one device per channel, to avoid the further limitations of slaving ATA devices).
Die-hard SCSI enthusiasts, as well as those in the professional duplication market have kept support for the SCSI interface alive, and in companies like Plextor Corporation, going strong. Plextor's optical drives have traditionally been considered high-end SCSI parts. Though they've recently joined in the ATAPI parade as well, they have not forgotten what's gotten them where they are and continue producing burners geared toward the high-end SCSI market. Their latest achievement, the PX-W1210TS, combines 12X writes, 10X rewrites, BURN-Proof technology, a 4 MB buffer, all with an Ultra SCSI interface. These lofty specs have combined to produce one of the most hotly anticipated rewriters in recent memory.
In this article we will refer to the PX-W1210TS as the "12/10/32S", whereas the previously reviewed ATAPI model (model # PX-W1210TA) will be referred to as the "12/10/32A."
The specs, as Plextor presents them, include the aforementioned maximum write speeds, 32X max reads from pressed CDs and CD-Rs, 14X-24X P-CAV audio extraction, 150 ms access times, a digital audio out built into the SCSI jumper block, and a 1-year warranty including unlimited toll-free tech support. As has become the norm with Plextor's SCSI burners, there's a cooling fan built into the back of the drive. It's interesting to note that the 4 MB buffer on this drive is twice the size of the 12/10/32A's. To see Plextor's online spec sheet, click here. While the suggested retail price for this drive is $379, we were able to find it for as low as $289 plus tax and shipping in our new price comparator. The average of the top-10 prices came to $300.75. Finally, our retail unit arrived with firmware revision 1.00 with no updates at this point.
First, we examine this drive's read performance.