To economize, the PX-740A sacrifices several features offered by Plextor's flagship PX-716 (see Bennett review March 2005) including the ability to perform rudimentary disc-quality checks and alter low-level recording parameters and drive behavior. Also absent is LightScribe laser disc labeling. From what I gather, LightScribe isn't exactly taking the aftermarket by storm, so its importance is relative.
One of the PX-740A's biggest attractions is its ability to write DVD+R DL discs at 8X speed. In practical terms, this translates to an impressive 14:12 to complete a full disc although DVD-R DL drags to the finish line at 4X (27:31). Rewritable DVD performance is also cranked up to the latest and greatest specifications. High-speed RW discs are scarce but I was fortunate to have some Ritek samples on hand with 8X DVD+RWs clocked at 7:54 and with 6X DVD-RWs at 10:19. DVD±Rs burn at the now obligatory 16X taking 5:53 per disc, CD-Rs at 48X (3:00) and CD-RWs at 32X (4:01).
Uncommon for a new recorder, out-of-the-gate support for 16X-rated DVD±R discs proved excellent. Out of the discs I tried from mainline manufacturers, six out of eight DVD-Rs and six out of six DVD+Rs wrote at full speed. Since 16X-rated discs are not always easy to find, I was disappointed that the PX-740A wouldn't write at least a few of the nine 8X-rated DVD-R and eleven DVD+R types I also tested at faster speeds (by comparison, the PX-716A writes one of these DVD-Rs at 16X, one DVD+R at 16X and three others at 12X). DVD+R DL results also came up a little short with Verbatim discs writing at 8X but two other makers confined to 2.4X (the PX-716A handles Verbatim at 6X and the other two at 4X).
I was also able to successfully write a handful of BeALL 4.85GB EX extended-capacity DVD-R discs. So, those seeking to record a few additional minutes of video, or a couple more megabytes of data should be pleased with the PX-740A. But note, however, that DVD+R "overburning" is not offered.
In addition to faster writing, read speed is up a couple of notches compared to the PX-716A. Most noticeable are DVD±R and prerecorded DVDs taken at full 16X (4:57) and DVD±RW along with DVD±R DL at 12X (6:23 and 11:57 respectively). Prerecorded CD-ROM, CD audio and CD-R clock in at 48X (2:15) and CD-RW at 40X (2:39). Be aware, however, that there is no DVD-RAM support and reading copy protected (CSS) DVD-Video discs is limited to a leisurely 4X.
In keeping with its bare-bones style, the package simply includes Nero 6 OEM Suite (Nero Express, InCD, Nero Vision Express, etc.) and leaves other recording and authoring amenities behind. If you already own a copy of PlexTools Professional software (bundled with another Plextor recorder) the PX-740A can be used but most functions are unavailable.
With impressive writing and reading performance as well as its more competitive price tag the Plextor PX-740A is one of the best recorder choices going.
|Minimum system requirements: 1.4GHz Pentium 4 running Windows 98SE/ME/XP/2000; 256MB RAM; 800MB to 1GB free hard drive space for CD, 6GB to 10GB for DVD authoring; 5.25" half-height empty drive bay.|