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In House Review - Plextor PlexWriter Premium 52/32/52 CD-RW

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In House Review - Plextor PlexWriter Premium 52/32/52 CD-RW

Postby Ian on Tue May 27, 2003 8:11 am

CDRLabs has taken a look at the newest CD-RW drive from Plextor, the PlexWriter Premium. Featuring some of the fastest speeds available, the Premium reads and writes at 52x and is one of the first drives to offer 32x rewriting speeds. The drive also has many of the features we've come to expect from Plextor, along with a number of new ones like SecuRec and GigaRec. Available only on the Premium, these new technologies allow users to secure their discs with a password and fit up to 1GB of data onto a 700MB CD.

I'm sure the question on most of minds is how does the Premium perform? Does this drive deliver the type of performance Plextor is known for? More importantly, is the Premium the fastest 52x writer around? You'll have to read the review to find out.

ImagePlextor PlexWriter Premium 52/32/52 CD-RW

As usual, if you have any comments or questions about this review, the Plextor Premium or any of its new features, please post them in the forum by clicking the link below.
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Postby Scour on Tue May 27, 2003 8:48 am

Hello!

Great review, Ian :)

And it´s real nice, that you report about the C1 und C2-Scans
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Postby Ian on Tue May 27, 2003 9:41 am

Scour wrote:And it´s real nice, that you report about the C1 und C2-Scans


Yeah, Q-Check's C1/C2 tests are pretty nice. I'm thinking about using them in all of our reviews.
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Postby Scour on Tue May 27, 2003 9:47 am

Ian wrote:
Scour wrote:And it´s real nice, that you report about the C1 und C2-Scans


Yeah, Q-Check's C1/C2 tests are pretty nice. I'm thinking about using them in all of our reviews.


That´s give the users a idea, what the general writing-quality with various media is

Do it, Ian :wink:
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Postby G@M3FR3@K on Tue May 27, 2003 10:32 am

Ian wrote:Yeah, Q-Check's C1/C2 tests are pretty nice. I'm thinking about using them in all of our reviews.
Excellent review Ian. I'm also thinking of switching to PlexTools C1/C2 scans for our (future) reviews.. ;)
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Postby jase on Tue May 27, 2003 2:17 pm

Great review. However it does show the Plextor up as a somewhat gimmicky writer; the jitter-reduction techniques just don't work. I see no reason why this drive carries the premium it does anymore.
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Postby chiphead on Tue May 27, 2003 2:38 pm

The reviews at CDRLabs are one of the best. They are thorough and completely satisfy my thirst for info.

I find that comparison shopping between them is difficult however because the ratings all seem to be either all 8s with the rare exception of 7's and 9's. It would help out people if there was some ranking system.

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Postby dodecahedron on Tue May 27, 2003 3:21 pm

great review, Ian (as usual :D )

Ian wrote:Yeah, Q-Check's C1/C2 tests are pretty nice. I'm thinking about using them in all of our reviews.

G@M3FR3@K wrote:Excellent review Ian. I'm also thinking of switching to PlexTools C1/C2 scans for our (future) reviews.. ;)

Ian, are they so nice?
are they nicer than WSES/CD Doctor / KProbe?
what exactly do you mean?

what i'd be interested to see is a comparative test of C1/C2 error testing using CD Doctor vs. KProbe vs. PlexTools.

does it follow from your thoughts that you get to keep the Premium drive ? if so, cool! 8)
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Postby Ian on Tue May 27, 2003 3:40 pm

chiphead wrote:The reviews at CDRLabs are one of the best. They are thorough and completely satisfy my thirst for info.

I find that comparison shopping between them is difficult however because the ratings all seem to be either all 8s with the rare exception of 7's and 9's. It would help out people if there was some ranking system.

regards,
Chiphead


yeah, I know what you mean. Look at the highs and lows instead. Find one that fits your needs.

dodeca, If I have some time, I'll do that. While I like CD Doctor and KProbe, Q-Check seems more polished. Of course, thats my opinion.

Correct me if I'm wrong but CD Doctor and KProbe don't work with Plextor drives, do they?

No, like Plextor's other drives, I don't get to keep the Premium. However, they'll sell it to me at a discount price. I don't really need another 52x writer, but I'm going to buy this one for the features.
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Postby dodecahedron on Tue May 27, 2003 4:01 pm

Ian wrote:While I like CD Doctor and KProbe, Q-Check seems more polished. Of course, thats my opinion.

do you mean how it looks? if so, then yes. it does look polished.
i like PlexTools too.
but it seems to me that KProbe gives you more control over the program - various parameters etc., which is a very big plus! seems to be more versatile.
of course this is not from any on-hands experience with either program, so correct me if i'm wrong.
anyway i would be glad to hear your opinion on this comparison.

KProbe and CD Doctor don't work on Plextor drives. OTOH, PlexTools doesn't work on Lite-On drives.
so if you're buying a drive for benchmarking burns, you buy the drive that fits the software, not the other way around.

OK, i got the solution: to buy both a PlexPremium and a LiteOn! :D
(too bad i can't afford either, much less both :( )


what are the features you are goingn to buy the drive for?
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Postby cfitz on Tue May 27, 2003 4:02 pm

Ian wrote:Correct me if I'm wrong but CD Doctor and KProbe don't work with Plextor drives, do they?

No, but they work with a variety of LiteOn drives, while Q-Check doesn't work with anything but the Plextor Premium drive. And since quality checking of burned media includes effects from the writer, the media itself, and the reader, it probably makes a lot more sense to characterize media quality via C1/C2 testing on a reader made by LiteOn since there are orders of magnitude more LiteOn drives being used by CDRLabs readers and the public in general than Plextor Premium drives. And given the huge price of the Plextor drive, I doubt that situation will change.

Moreover, CD Doctor and KProbe use the same general features and algorithms as WSES, which you already use, so if you want to switch to something other than WSES, either CD Doctor or KProbe would be the logical choice to maintain consistency in testing methodology and results.

Adding in the disappointing performance and media incompatibility of the Plextor drive as reported in your review makes me wonder why you would even consider using Q-Check.

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Postby dodecahedron on Tue May 27, 2003 4:16 pm

cfitz wrote:No, but they work with a variety of LiteOn drives, while Q-Check doesn't work with anything but the Plextor Premium drive. And since quality checking of burned media includes effects from the writer, the media itself, and the reader, it probably makes a lot more sense to characterize media quality via C1/C2 testing on a reader made by LiteOn since there are orders of magnitude more LiteOn drives being used by CDRLabs readers and the public in general than Plextor Premium drives. And given the huge price of the Plextor drive, I doubt that situation will change.

Moreover, CD Doctor and KProbe use the same general features and algorithms as WSES, which you already use, so if you want to switch to something other than WSES, either CD Doctor or KProbe would be the logical choice to maintain consistency in testing methodology and results.

Adding in the disappointing performance and media incompatibility of the Plextor drive as reported in your review makes me wonder why you would even consider using Q-Check.

i'd have to disagree.
any burning test is an interaction between the media (burned CD) and the testing drive. the testing drive is fixed. so of course it won't "fit" all drives, and unless you're lucky enough to own the same drive used for testing, the applicability isn't 100%. however if one is going to do such testing, one must assume that to a degree, testing a burned CD on one drive and on another won't be drastically different. of course some burners are better than others but that can't be helped.

point in case, the Plextor is probably a better reader than the Lite-On. this could be a good or a bad thing...from a testing perspective it could be bad because the drive can "mask" some of the errors (or more precisely, since it is a better reader it will show less errors on a give media...and we want to see the errors...)

as for the argument that there are more Lite-On drives out there, doesn't seem to me that this should be a major consideration when deciding which burner to use for this testing. more important considerations are ease of testing, clarity of the output results etc.
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Postby alchip80 on Tue May 27, 2003 4:33 pm

as usual Ian, very good review, thanks.:)


Here are some intensive test for jitter and media quality done by 501X, I am sure that some of you may have read.some of this. the 4th page was just added. (some of the translation leaves a little to be desired).

Link 1 show test done with data CD's

http://www.excite.co.jp/world/url/body? ... N&wb_dis=2

Link 2 show test done with audio CD's

http://www.excite.co.jp/world/url/body? ... N&wb_dis=2

Link 3 shows test's done with vari-rec and other drives

http://www.excite.co.jp/world/url/body? ... N&wb_dis=2

Link 4 shows comparison test with plextor, Yamaha F1,LG 4020B, Mitsumi CR-485FTE,
Lite-on LTR48246s, TEAC CD-W540E and couple other drives. good reading.

http://www.excite.co.jp/world/url/body? ... N&wb_dis=2

I know from personal experience that vari-rec works well, On quality media you don't see much difference. on low quality media it is noticeable. My son was unable to play any recorded cd-r on his old car stereo CD player. and just out of
of curiosity he burned a cd-r with a -2 adjustment on vari-rec and it worked. he
used his PX-W4824ta for this. Now the Premium has more capability with vari-rec than PX-W4824ta. He already wants a new drive, go figure... :roll:

[edit]

Just noticed that Link 4 is off line. Which is to bad, it was a very good comparison. Hopefully 501x will get it back soon. I will let you know and update.
Last edited by alchip80 on Tue May 27, 2003 6:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby aviationwiz on Tue May 27, 2003 5:00 pm

I get my Premium soon! Thanks for the great review Ian!
Last edited by aviationwiz on Wed May 28, 2003 9:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby cfitz on Tue May 27, 2003 5:16 pm

In this situation there is no official standard test drive that can be used for C1/C2 testing (certainly not one that CDRLabs can afford). Lacking a readily available official standard, the next best thing is a de facto standard. Among the limited choices for test drives that can do C1/C2 testing, LiteOn drives are far and away closer to being a de facto standard, due to their overwhelming sales advantage.

dodecahedron wrote:the testing drive is fixed. so of course it won't "fit" all drives, and unless you're lucky enough to own the same drive used for testing, the applicability isn't 100%.

My point being that there are a lot more people "lucky" enough to own a LiteOn than a Plextor Premium, and that situation is unlikely to change. So why not improve the odds, as much as possible, that media test results will be directly applicable to the average CDRLabs reader?

dodecahedron wrote: more important considerations are ease of testing, clarity of the output results etc.

Comparing the outputs of the testing programs, KProbe seems to win hands down in these areas. Look at all the extra information automatically encoded into the KProbe output:

Image

Image

KProbe allows the user to choose graph colors, select linear or logarithmic scales, combine or separate C1/C2 graphs, scale charts automatically or manually, label the graphs, save directly to png, bmp or jpg output files, etc., etc. I don't know if Q-Check allows any of that, but based on the screen shots Ian posted, it appears to be missing at least some of these features.

Finally, don't forget that the author of KProbe, Karr Wang, has shown a willingness to work with average users to improve KProbe. I don't know if Ian has tried contacting Karr, but I imagine there is a reasonable chance that Karr would be even more willing to work with Ian directly since Ian runs CDRLabs and has the status of being an authority in the field of CD-RW drive testing and reviewing.

I don't really care what Ian chooses to use for his testing, since I will always do my own testing. But I do wonder what is motivating him to consider using Q-Check. Ian, is it really just the presentation of Q-Check that you prefer?

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Postby Ian on Tue May 27, 2003 5:55 pm

Q-Check does spit out some additional info when the test is done like the ave, max and totals for C1/C2/CU errors. They're just not in that picture.

cfitz, as usual you bring up some good points. I still don't know what I'm going to do yet. In any case, keep the discussion going.
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Postby cfitz on Tue May 27, 2003 6:17 pm

Mainly I was wondering if you knew something about Q-Check that we who haven't used it don't. Specifically, I was wondering if you know whether or not it guarantees to measure every single sector on the disc.

One shortcoming of the WSES/CD Doctor/KProbe tools is that they don't completely scan every sector of the disc when testing at high speeds. Instead, depending on the speed of one's computer, they test a representative sample of all the sectors, typically in the 80-90% range. I've never seen any practical negative consequences of this limitation, and it does not significantly affect the accuracy of the measurements in almost all cases. However, it could theoretically be an issue in some situations. For example, if there are limited C2 errors that occur in just one or two sectors, they might be missed in a single pass by the LiteOn tools. See the KProbe thread for more discussions about this limitation.

If the Q-Check tool guarantees to measure every single sector, then that would be one good reason to favor Q-Check over the LiteOn trio of tools. But do we know that? It took some digging to ascertain the true nature of the LiteOn tools.

Also, do you know exactly what Q-Check defines as a C1 error, what it defines as a C2 error, and what it defines as a CU error? There have been questions about how the LiteOn trio defines these quantities, and we have never completely resolved them. I think I saw a link that described the Q-Check quantities somewhere, but I can't find it now. Solid definitions of these quantities would be another reason to consider Q-Check over the LiteOn tools.

Finally, does the Q-Check tool maintain a "constant" read speed (whether that be CLV or CAV) while testing, or does it drop speed when it encounters areas of the disc that are difficult to read? From a controlled testing perspective, I think it is better to maintain speed while testing like the LiteOn tools do, even though during normal reading drives will slow down to accommodate bad areas of the disc.

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Postby alchip80 on Tue May 27, 2003 6:39 pm

Here is a link from Plextor Japan that explains how the jitter,c1/c2 and FE/TE tests should be analyzed. From what I have seen so far Plextools gives you a better overall picture of what is going on. FE/TE has the advantage of measuring the mechanical properties of the media prior to burning.

Kprobe is an excellent testing tool also. however, in my experience with it, I rarely get the same reading twice, in the same drive, although sometimes it is fairly close.

http://www.excite.co.jp/world/url/body? ... N&wb_dis=2


We will be replacing both Liteons with additional Plextor's. The Boss of the house (wife). has been more impressed by the quality of Plextor drive and the longevity. The company she works for replaced all their drive's with Plextor's.
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Postby KCK on Tue May 27, 2003 7:16 pm

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Postby cfitz on Tue May 27, 2003 7:57 pm

Yes, those are the links. Thank you KCK.

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Postby rdgrimes on Tue May 27, 2003 8:07 pm

I would like to see some more error scans on burned discs. Based on what was posted in the review, the quality of the burned discs is no better than the LiteOn 52x, but it may have been skewed by the use of the 48125 as a reader.
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Postby dodecahedron on Tue May 27, 2003 8:19 pm

the argument the "more people have Lite-On drives" - i still don't buy that as a valid reason to choose a Lite-On drive for testing over any other drive.

the graphic output of PlexTools Pro does seem more "professional" and pretty. in Ians words, more polished. IMO, this is definitely a valid consideration when choosing which util to use for testing, as this output is going to be displayed on the reviews. (and this, in my opinion, is definitely a much more important consideration than how many readers have a Lite-On or Plextor drive).

true, KProbe's output shows additional info, and that is useful for me and you and the average CDR hobbyist. however for something to go into a review, all that extra info KProbe puts above the plot is extraneous, except for the C1/C2 error count/average of course, and this info is available in PlexTools too. the KProbe graphs themselves aren't very clear and the labelling on the axes etc... like i said in the previous paragraph the PlexTools graphs look much better.

that said, it is true that KProbe is more flexible and i said so myself:
dodecahedron wrote:it seems to me that KProbe gives you more control over the program - various parameters etc., which is a very big plus! seems to be more versatile.


as for the other issues you mention about the inner workings of the utility (e.g. speed, algorithm, checking every sector etc.) and a clear definition of exacly what kinds of errors it detects and reports, well true if that info were known about PlexTools it would be a reason to prefer Q-Check. but i have a feeling that this info won't be easy to come by and Plextor won't be very forthright about telling us exactly what's going on in there...much less the Karr Wang....

once again, i think this is important to see some comparison between the two - test the same CDs on both drives using both programs to see how they compare. i don't think there's much point in continuing this discussion until we have some data like this.
hopefully Ian will have a little time to test this, or maybe someone else who has both drives will check it out.
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Postby cfitz on Tue May 27, 2003 8:34 pm

KCK, looking at the links you provided, I see that Plextor reports BLER as the C1 parameter. This choice is not unreasonable, although I wonder if they actually calculate a moving average over 10 seconds as required for BLER measurements. The choice C2 = E22 seems a little curious. What about E12 and E32? And the document doesn't specify what CU means. Perhaps well-defined measurement parameters aren't an advantage for Q-Check after all.

I did, however, find an article that states that the Clover Systems CDX and CD Associates CDA-3002 both use (as of March 2002) modified Plextor SCSI CD-RW drives as their readers. If Plextor SCSI drives are the de facto standard for professional test equipment, this would favor using the Premium as the closest affordable match to that de facto standard.

Rdgrimes, did you see that Ian included a table of Q-Check test results? It is a little hard to compare to the WSES plots, but the results are at least fairly well matched to the first degree. Ian said as much. Using the eyeball averager on the WSES plots, it looks like the error levels were higher on the LiteOn reader. But we don't know if the two programs are reporting results using the exact same measurement units, and I'm not sure if the testing conditions were as identical as they could be. Ian said the WSES tests were done at 40x on the LiteOn, but based on the screen shot Ian showed of one Q-Check test, it is possible he tested at 24x CAV with Q-Check on the Premium.

Ian, at what speed did you run the Q-Check tests in the summary table?

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Postby Ian on Tue May 27, 2003 8:45 pm

cfitz wrote:Also, do you know exactly what Q-Check defines as a C1 error, what it defines as a C2 error, and what it defines as a CU error? There have been questions about how the LiteOn trio defines these quantities, and we have never completely resolved them. I think I saw a link that described the Q-Check quantities somewhere, but I can't find it now. Solid definitions of these quantities would be another reason to consider Q-Check over the LiteOn tools.

Not sure if it tests every sector. As far as how it defines a C1/C2/CU error, here's essentially what the manual says:

C1 - error correction for the block error rate (BLER)
C2 - like KCK pointed out, this seems to be E22 only
CU - the errors that couldn't be corrected after C2

btw.. Q-Check has a maximum testing speed of 24x.
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Postby rdgrimes on Tue May 27, 2003 8:46 pm

Rdgrimes, did you see that Ian included a table of Q-Check test results?

That's what I was basing my impression on, higher averages and counts than I'm used to seeing. As for the WSES tests, the 48125W is not as good a reader as the 52x, so the levels might be expected to be higher. I would prefer to see the same media burned on the 52x drives, then tested on a third drive and compared.

If LiteOn doesn't start selling some new toys pretty soon, I may be forced to buy the Premium to play with. :roll:
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