Plextor PX-B900A


When is a Plextor drive a Plextor drive? Certainly not when it’s a Panasonic.

To get onboard the Blu-ray train in a hurry, Plextor rebadged a Panasonic SW-5582 Blu-ray drive as its own. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Invaluable firmware updates will come from Plextor and not some Pac Rim outfit. And to be fair, the Panasonic’s far better than the first-gen Pioneer Blu-ray drive we reviewed in October, which couldn’t even read CDs.

The Plextor BX-B900A writes to CD-R at an acceptable 24x speed. That’s far shy of today’s top-of-the-line 48x burners, but that’s the trade-off with the latest round of Blu-ray drives—they burn everything, just not that fast. The BX-B900A burns single-layer DVDs at 8x (with speeds dropping to 4x for double-layer DVDs).

The BX-B900A also trumps Pioneer’s first-gen hardware by burning not just single-layer Blu-ray media, but double-layer media as well, for up to 50GB per disc. Again, write speeds are weak: It took 1:34 (hour:min) to fill a 22.6GB write-once disc.

We were able to play a Blu-ray movie using the included WinDVD BD player, but without an HDCP card in our test rig, the player downsampled the content so badly that it looked worse than DVD resolution.

While we applaud the latest improvements to Blu-ray hardware, the PX-B900A’s price tag still stings, as does the $20 a pop it costs for write-once Blu-ray media.

Month Reviewed: December 2006
+ SOUTH PARK: Famed Plextor firmware support.
- NORTHERN EXPOSURE: An hour and a half to burn 23GB?!
Verdict: 6

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