Review by David R. Hedges on 11.21.2002
Product Provided by: Plextor
Retail Value: $159.00
Everyone always seems to like seeing info from Clone CD and Nero InfoTool, so why disappoint the masses? Here they are:
Other than the normal things, it's important to note one more addition: Mount Rainier support.
The Plextor 48/24/48A features additional, transparent features that enhance the process of burning a CD. The beauty of these features lies in the fact that it's impossible to tell they're even there.
It's a bit of a stretch, but BURN-Proof is actually an acronym for Buffer Under-Run Protection. When CD burners first became available, buffer underruns were a frequent problem, leading to corrupt CDs, or "coasters" as they commonly were called. This was a result of data not being streamed to the burner as quickly as the burner was writing to the CD. Causes of this problem were generally traced to doing much of anything while burning a CD, that would access the hard drive, and take away the amount of data being sent to the burner. Buffers sizes were increased, and special hardware coding was added to CD burners to prevent a corrupt CD burn if the buffer became depleted during the burn. Now, when the buffer is emptied during a CD burn, the drive stops the laser diode, but continues spinning the CD. Then, when the buffer is again filled, the laser diode resumes writing to the Cd. In early models of CD burners with crude buffer under-run protection, moderately sized gaps were left between where the burning stoped and started again, but with Plextor's recent revisions of BURN-Proof technology, the gap has become so small (1 micrometer or less, generally), that it's been called a zero gap (no gap). The buffer size of this drive is 4 MB, which translates to about one second of data at 48x. It would have been nice to see a larger buffer on this drive, as some competetors have offered, but the drive still functions perfectly with 4 MB.
Another acronym, Power-Rec (PoweRec) stands for Plextor Optimized Writing Error Reduction Control (Plextor sure likes quazi-acronyms). Like Burn-Proof, this technology is also transparent to the user. Its purpose is to ensure the burned cd is the highest quality possible, by configuring the burn speed based on the media in the drive. This means that rather than burning a coaster when 12x media is burned at 48x, the drive will slow the burn speed to a safe speed for the media. More recent revisions to this technology have stepped the process up a level, and the drive now analyzes a segment of data that was just burned to determine the burn quality at that particular speed.
Here's what happens when some 32x media is burned at 48x. As shown below, once the burn speed reaches 32x, the drive determines it's unsafe to burn faster, and retains that speed. Small increases in speed are subsequent attempts to increase the speed, only to result in dropping back down to 32x which is the safe speed for the given media.
Vari-Rec is a little publicized feature for general CD recording, as it applies only to audio CD recording. Even further to the point, the vast majority of users will still not require this technolgoy, which makes it even more impressive that Plextor included the feature. Vari-Rec allows the user to tweak the laser diode intensity when recording a CD at 4x. The purpose of this feature is to allow usersor more accurately, audiophilesto modify how a burned audio CD will sound, because standard settings can result in slightly incrorrect pits of a CD (CDs are read based on high and low sections of the disc). Properly set, this feature is designed to result in more accurate sounding audio than a CD burned without tweaking.
Black CD tray
This feature was introduced into the Plextor CD burners with the Plextor 40/12/40A. Its ideal purpose is to eliminate light reflections inside the drive. When the laser strikes the surface of the CD, it reflects off the purposely reflective surface of the CD. The light then scatters somewhat, and can be reflected back onto the CD tray. With a light-colored CD tray, there is potential for this reflected light to be once again reflected back onto the writeable surface of the CD, resulting in a less exact data transcription. The black CD tray is designed to absorb any reflected light, so it does not reflect back to the CD, thus reducting jitter and increasing the accuracy of the CD. This feature, along with Vari-Rec were designed mainly for audiophiles, but result in benefits for the general public as well.
(Plus, won't that black CD tray look killer against a nice black case?)