Plextor PlexWriter PX-708UF Review

The PX-708UF is a relatively fast and reliable drive, but it lacks the ability to daisy chain other FireWire devices through it...
The PX-708UF is a relatively fast and reliable drive, but it lacks the ability to daisy chain other FireWire devices through it...
The PX-708UF is a relatively fast and reliable drive, but it lacks the ability to daisy chain other FireWire devices through it...

Highs

  • Fast and reliable writing speeds
  • supports both USB and FireWire interfaces

Lows

  • Loud internal fan
  • high CPU usage
  • cannot daisychain FireWire devices

DT Editors' Rating

Home > Product Reviews > Blu-Ray and DVD Burner Reviews > Plextor PlexWriter PX-708UF Review

Summary

Unfortunately the PX-708UF does not have the polish we have come to expect from Plextor products. We gave the PX-504UF a much better score because it was the first external DVD writer developed by Plextor and overall was a good first attempt. But we expected their updated version the PX-708UF to address some of the issues their predecessor had and this simply was not the case. The PX-708UF is a relatively fast and reliable drive, but it lacks the ability to daisy chain other FireWire devices through it and has a very loud internal fan. Priced at $299.99 we would recommend holding off for Sony’s external 8X drive which was just announced while writing this review.

Introduction

 

Plextor’s PlexWriter PX-708UF uses the same identical drive as the internal PlexWriter PX-708A, except it is in an external portable case with support for both USB 2.0 and FireWire interfaces. And if the design of the PX-708UF looks familiar to you, that’s because it uses the same identical case as the PX-504UF, Plextor’s older 4X external DVD writer. But the similarities to the PX-504UF stop there, as the 708UF features a blazing fast 8X DVD+R writing speed compared to the 504UF’s 4X speed. The PX-708UF has a street price of $299.68.

While the PX-708UF is noticeably faster then its PX-504UF counterpart, the problems we encountered in our 504UF review unit still remain. This includes an incredibly loud internal fan, the mysterious audio outputs and no USB or FireWire daisy chaining capabilities.

Features and Design

 

The PlexWriter PX-708UF features the following writing speeds: 8X DVD+R, 4X DVD+RW, 4X DVD-R, 2X DVD-RW, 12X DVD-ROM, 40X CD-R, 24X CD-RW, and 40X CD-ROM. Everything about the PX-708UF has been improved over the 504UF with regards to the speed of the drive itself. Included with the PlexWriter PX-708UF is Roxio’s Easy CD Creator 6 DVD Edition (the 504UF comes with Easy CD and DVD Creator 5),Photosuite 5SE, Dantz Retrospect backup software, Roxio’s Toast 5 Lite for Mac OS 9.1 or higher, and Plextor’s very own Plextools. Plextor also made sure to include both USB and FireWire cables, CD-R and DVD-R recordable media and a very detailed instruction manual. If you have a laptop, you will have to purchase a FireWire cable with the smaller adapter on it as Plextor does not include this cable with their drive.

The PlexWriter PX-708UF drive itself features a 2MB internal buffer with Plextor’s very own PowerRec technology to provide a stable burn at high speeds. The front of the PlexWriter PX-708UF features a headphone jack and volume control. Located on the back of the PlexWriter PX-708UF is where you will find both FireWire and USB plugs, a toggle switch and RCA audio outputs so you can play back music to your soundcard or an external amplifier. The PlexWriter PX-708UF records DVD’s using the DVD+/-RW format so if you are upgrading from an older DVD writer, you will most likely have no troubles with incompatibility issues since it supports both formats.

The PlexWriter PX-708UF is relatively pleasant to look at and features an elliptical faceplate covered in a thick clear plastic with curved sides, which gives a sophisticated look to it. The drive can be mounted horizontally using the included stand and helps to give the PlexWriter PX-708UF a more aesthetic look. We were hoping that the labeling near the rear of the drive would be more stylish with this version; instead it looks like the output labels were written with a Sharpie pen.

The PX-708UF compared to Pioneers DVR-S606

The PX-708UF compared to Pioneers DVR-S606

Performance

Our PX-708UF drive had no problems reading any brand of media we threw at it regardless of how old the media was.

The writing times of the PX-708UF matched its internal equivalent the PX-708A in just about every test, but trailed significantly when comparing seek times and read times. You can see a similar trend with the PX-504UF external drive. A number of factors could be to blame for this including the high CPU usage and the Easy CD and DVD Creator software. We test each drive with the software it comes with to give an accurate test result to the buyer and it quite possibly could be that Easy CD Creator was the limiting factor in this case.

System Configurations:

 

Windows XP Pro; AMD Athlon 1700+; Abit AT7 Max 2 motherboard; 512MB DDR SDRAM 333MHz; PNY GeforceFX 500 video adapter.

Use and Testing

Installation of the PlexWriter PX-708UF is actually easier than installing an internal drive because there is no need to open your computers case to install it. If you currently have USB 2.0 on your system but no FireWire, there is no reason to run out to the store to purchase a FireWire card. Our testing showed that the CPU usage, write times and transfer rates were nearly identical when comparing the FireWire interface to that of the USB 2.0 interface. The PlexWriter PX-708UF’s manual is very detailed and will give you instructions for installing the drive on both a Windows based PC or a Mac OS 9.0 or above system.

If you are unfamiliar with external CD/DVD writers, be forewarned that CPU usage is typically higher than that of an internal drive simply because of the interfaces that are being used. In our tests, the included 2MB buffer filled up quickly and our CPU usage peaked to 33% using both the FireWire and USB 2.0 interfaces.

Our PX-708UF drive had no problems reading any brand of media we threw at it regardless of how old the media was.

The writing times of the PX-708UF matched its internal equivalent the PX-708A in just about every test, but trailed significantly when comparing seek times and read times. You can see a similar trend with the PX-504UF external drive. A number of factors could be to blame for this including the high CPU usage and the Easy CD and DVD Creator software. We test each drive with the software it comes with to give an accurate test result to the buyer and it quite possibly could be that Easy CD Creator was the limiting factor in this case.

We do not recommend multitasking while writing a CD/DVD unless you have 512MB of system memory or higher; this will provide an error free burn. Please click on the performance tab above this review or the link below this review for complete testing results.

As we mentioned in our previous PX-504UF review, the fan located in this case is incredibly loud, so much to the point that it is annoying, especially if you have the unit near you. We were hoping to see this remedied in the PX-708UF drive, but alas, it still remains. Another disappointment we found in the PX-708UF drive but unfortunately failed to mention in our PX-504UF review is the lack of a USB or FireWire pass through. There is no daisy chaining capabilities with this unit, forcing you to have the PX-708UF drive at the end of your USB/FireWire chain. Pioneers new DVR-S606 external drive allows you to daisy chain FireWire devices through their drive as does the old TDK external VeloCD drive from more than a year ago. This is a major oversight in our opinion and not something we hope to see in the future from such a reputable company like Plextor.

Secondly, there are RCA audio jacks on the back of the drive and Plextor suggests that you can hook the PlexWriter PX-708UF up to an external amplifier for CD music playback. While this is a nice little touch, it is fairly useless as CD players are very common and since you need to use the AC adapter for a power source, the PlexWriter PX-708UF certainly is not portable. What would have been very cool and revolutionary would be an S-Video output so you could use the PlexWriter PX-708UF to playback DVD movies similar to the Philips Jack Rabbit external DVD writer.

Lastly, the FireWire/USB toggle switch on the back of the PlexWriter PX-708UF is pretty old school as well. Most if not all external hard drives and CD/DVD writers we have tested feature auto switching which detects the type of interface you are using, and if you are silly enough to plug both interfaces (USB and FireWire) in at the same time, a default is then triggered.

Conclusion

Unfortunately the PX-708UF does not have the polish we have come to expect from Plextor products. We gave the PX-504UF a much better score because it was the first external DVD writer developed by Plextor and overall was a good first attempt. But we expected their updated version the PX-708UF to address some of the issues their predecessor had and this simply was not the case. The PX-708UF is a relatively fast and reliable drive, but it lacks the ability to daisy chain other FireWire devices through it and has a very loud internal fan. Priced at $299.99 we would recommend holding off for Sony’s external 8X drive which was just announced while writing this review.