Plextor DVD Writer - R.I.P. 2. February 2007 Tech Comment (2) A couple of years ago I picked up my first DVD writer - a Plextor PX-712A. I was kinda proud of it because Plextor is a premium brand and most do-it-yourselfers in the build-your-own-PC world tend to use more mainstream and budget "OEM"-type brands such as LG, LiteOn, or Pioneer. Plextor markets themselves as "The Leader in Reliable CD, DVD, and Digial Video Solutions" so I felt pretty smug that I had paid a little extra and bought quality gear. It wasn't dual-layer, but back then dual-layer writers were just hitting the market anyway and even today dual-layer media is still prohibitively expensive.I really enjoyed using the Plextor. The tray mechanism has a very nice glide motion where the tray slows down just before it reaches the full open or close state and gives the drive a sort-of "luxury" feel. The unit is heavy and full-length, and the status light has different modes for read vs. write vs. power on. Plextor's web site had several firmware updates, all of which were easily applied. Perhaps the feature I liked most was that it was extremely quiet. Overall, it was just a nice piece of kit to own - the kind of kit that gives you that nice pride-of-ownership feeling.Unfortunately, this feeling was not meant to last. Over the last several months, things just haven't been working quite right. I don't use the drive all that much, so I never really connected the dots until now, but the unit is no longer reliable. When reading DVD's it almost always quits about half-way through with various read-errors. Conversely, disks that it writes do so without any errors, but the resulting disks don't play well in other DVD drives. My ancient Pioneer DVD-ROM drive works much better at reading disks, a fact that pisses me off to no small extent. Here I was being Mr. Smarty-Pants by getting a high-end drive that I was sure would last until the end of the earth. Instead, it gets beat by my bought-it-without-a-thought DVD-ROM unit that must be 4 years old by now.What really irks me is that this is the second time "high-end" gear has failed me. Before this I had a nice Ricoh CD-writer I bought in 1999 that, again, I was sure would last forever. It also refused to read and write data after a couple of years of extremely light use. The difference with the Ricoh was that it came with a good warranty and I was able to get it repaired for free. The Plextor only had a 1-year warranty that is long expired.Despite this experience, I was tempted to pick up a new Plextor to replace my busted drive. Their gear just feels so nice. However, a couple of factors changed my mind. First, my motherboard is getting a little long in the tooth and only supports two SATA connectors which are already in use. If I'm plunking down more than $100 for a DVD drive, I ain't buying no old-school PATA garbage. Not that PATA drives aren't as good, I just really like the smaller SATA cables and their tidy appearance. Secondly, the local computer store (which is only two minutes from where I work) doesn't stock Plextor drives, but they had plenty of $41 LG drives. And $41 isn't really an investment by any means - it's more of an impulse buy. So, I picked up an 18x LG drive and you know what? It works great, and it's not even that noisy. And I'll bet it'll last forever. Still, I'm going to miss that luxury tray motion.