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The Plextor 12-10-32 IDE CD-RW

Almost instantaneously after I receive and test the excellent Plextor 12-4-32 SCSI CD-RW, this other Plextor drive makes it's debut. Arrgh! Well, it's actually "arrgh" in a good way. Any company can't be faulted for continually improving their product line, especially if it's every few months or so. The PX-W1210TA also boasts 10X re-writable speed, and that's close to the 1.8MB/s data backup. Double digit writing and re-writing speeds--mmmm, good. I wonder what's going to arrive next from Plextor, a 16X CD-RW unit? I hope so.

Factory Specifications
The Plextor
  • CD-R Speeds: 1x, 4x, 8x, 12x
  • CD-RW Speeds: 2x, 4x, 8X, 10X
  • Data Read Speed: 14x-32x
  • Audio Rip Speed: 24x max
  • BURN-Proof w/2MB buffer
  • IDE Interface
  • Model PX-W1210TA
  • One year warranty
  • Web price: $250

9.5/10 Rating

How Fast Is 12X Anyway?

Twelve X refers to the multiplier from which a normal digital audio disc would transfer data at: 150KB/s. Now, 1.8MB/s may not seem much of a threat to today's 10,000 RPM hard drives, which can blast through 37MB/s with ease, but a standard 74 minute (650MB) CD-R fills up in just over 6 minutes.

I've been burning CD's since the very beginning which was a whopping 1X...and it came from a gray market Philips component (stand alone hardware) CD-R. TDK 63 minute blanks cost $30 a pop in 1994. Then I did time with a Ricoh 2X'er, which cut my labor in half to just a smidge over ½ an hour per disc. In the summer of 1998, my brand new Panasonic 4X arrived and it was IDE to boot. Now, a 74 minute CD was filled in just over 17 minutes. Where I live, that equated to 1 lap around the block in walking mode. The Plextor Combo's 8X speed lowered my precious time to about 8 minutes, which meant that I stopped walking and started boiling water for hot tea. I think I've gained a few pounds too. But now we're near the 2MB/s mark.

Why Bother With Re-Writing?

10X CD-RW is a very serious claim since no other manufacturer as of this writing has anything much over the 4X speed. Needles to say, this was the first time I was school-boy eager to test all aspects of that magic "10X" spec. Now, the really cool thing about CD-RW is the ability to use the disc, after formatting, as a giant floppy. Say goodbye to LS-120 people, serious re-writing speed has arrived even if the 10X RW media is still scarce. When Adaptec's Direct CD 3.01c was used to format the special purple Ricoh disc, capacity dropped from 650MB to about 530MB which is somewhat disappointing even if it's normal.

Using a stopwatch and the trusty old Windows resource meters, I carefully prepared 516MB of data consisting of files ranging from a few KB to 50MB and nervously watched as the copy and paste operation completed. Unlike regular CD-R, which must run at an almost perfectly consistent speed, CD-RW can vary all over creation. For example, the test data I used transferred at rates from 4X to 8.33X (600 KB/s to 1.25 MB/s). While never actually reaching it's rated 10X RW speed, the 12-10-32 is nonetheless the fastest RW tested to date at TargetPC. Generally speaking, files under 1MB copied at the slower rates and files over 10MB copied at the highest speeds. Now this is a re-writable that's worth using!



The rear of the Plextor is well thought out and does include a digital output. The farthest jumper to the left is the digital out, just check the pinout by clicking on the label pic. Most CD-R's come with a shipping lock, a very handy device that physically prohibits any movement of the delicate laser head assembly. This unit didn't. Manufacturers should put these devices inside all CD-ROM's as many would be saved from shipping damage. Of particular note on the label is the power requirements. While not excessive, a total peak draw of 23 watts could strain an already weak power supply. If your computer suddenly acts up after installing the 12-10-32, you may want to invest in a more capable unit.

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