Plextor PlexWriter 24/10/40A

Plextor's 24X drive is a good choice for audio enthusiasts

WHAT'S HOT: The PlexWriter 24/10/40A excelled at our tests of digital audio extraction, taking just 1 minute, 40 seconds to extract 320MB of audio tracks. Plextor's software bundle includes the basic version of Roxio's Easy CD Creator 5.01 and DirectCD 5.01; if you want the larger palette of features Easy CD Creator offers (such as music editing), you'll need to upgrade to the full version for about $80. The PlexWriter 24/10/40A also comes with Plextor Manager 2000, which includes the company's AudioFS drivers for transferring individual tracks from an audio CD to your PC via the drag-and-drop interface of Windows Explorer.

WHAT'S NOT: Although the Plextor PlexWriter 24/10/40A is the fastest model currently available from Plextor, it managed to log only so-so performance numbers in our tests. The Plextor lagged a full 37 seconds behind competing 24X-class drives when burning our image file, and was 28 seconds slower at writing to CD-R on the fly (the drive required 4 minutes, 37 seconds and 4 minutes, 39 seconds, respectively, to complete these tasks). The PlexWriter also took longer to write to CD-RW--requiring 1 minute, 39 seconds to write our 100MB test folder to CD-RW media using packet writing.

WHAT ELSE: Plextor offers a one-year warranty and toll-free technical support for 10 hours on weekdays.

UPSHOT: Plextor's drive is a bit sluggish compared with other drives in the same speed class; however, topflight digital audio extraction results and drivers for dragging and dropping individual audio tracks from a CD make this model a viable option if you like to make custom-mix audio CDs.

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