Blu-ray burners are advancing at a fast pace: Only a couple of months ago I was marveling at the speed of 8X Blu-ray burners--now here I am again with the 12X Plextor PX-B940SA ($250, price as of March 5, 2010). The write speeds make this Blu-ray drive an especially appealing option.
Even though 12X-rated media isn't available yet, judging from my tests the drive will hit 10X write speeds with 4X-rated media, and 12X speeds with 6X media (Panasonic and Sony currently sell 6X-rated media). The drive maxes out at 12X write speeds, but like most 4X or greater drives, it starts slower and gradually ramps up.
Writing 23GB to a single-layer 4X-rated BD-R disc at 10X with the PX-B940SA took about 11 minutes, 31 seconds (or about 7.4X), and burning 40GB to a dual-layer 2X disc took 22 minutes, 19 seconds (or about 6.6X). With 6X media, write speed improved to 7.8X. By way of comparison, the 8X-rated Pioneer BDR-203 averaged around 6X with 4X-rated BD-R.
Since Blu-ray rewrite technology is still stuck at 2X (9MB per second), backing up to BD-RE is still a somewhat time-consuming process. The unit's other speeds are 16X for writing and reading DVD+R/-R, 8X for DVD+RW, 6X for DVD-RW, 8X for DVD+/-R dual-layer, and 5X for DVD-RAM, as well as 40X with CD-R and 24X with CD-RW.
Plextor bundles CyberLink's BD Suite to take care of burning, movie authoring, video playback, and other tasks. The software is more than capable, but it also bugs you incessantly with registration notices and ads--far more than appropriate for software that the user ostensibly paid for. The program offers no option to bypass the registration, but it does give you a way to disable push advertising; even so, some annoying ads remain in PowerDVD and other modules.
CyberLink and Plextor both tout the PowerDVD 8.0.3223 playback software's TrueTheatre feature for enhancing 480p DVD video to 1080p-like quality. In my trials, it seemed to create a sharper picture than VLC, but the results were not on the level of 1080p; you sacrifice GPU assistance to use the feature, too. PowerProducer 188.8.131.523 and PowerDirector 184.108.40.20627 are on hand for capturing and manipulating video and images for CD/DVD/AVCHD/Blu-ray movie discs, and LabelPrint 2.5.2130 is available for creating labels and jewel-case inserts. PowerBackup 2.50.5187 is installed to deal with backup chores.
Power2Go 220.127.116.1101 is included for handling some of the more pedestrian data tasks. It also rips audio CDs, converts audio between WMA and .wav, saves nonprotected DVD-movie structures to disc, and creates and burns images (in CyberLink's .p2i format as well as standard .iso).
The Plextor PX-B940SA is a great drive that suffered nary a hiccup in my testing. It's faster than anything you'll currently find on the market.
The PX-B940SA is a terrific Blu-ray drive that operates smoothly and writes swiftly.
- Good bundled software suite Excellent performance
- Some annoying ads in the software