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PxScan, PxView

v1.7.12/ v1.12.6

Alexander Noé, 2008-06-11


intro picture

Jun 09, 2008 - Windows Vista

About two months ago, I bought a laptop running on Windows Vista 32bit, so I finally decided to try PxScan/PxView on Windows Vista, using FrogASPI as ASPI layer. The drive was my PX-712, connected via firewire. It worked well without enabling the compatibility mode. Of course, I can't promise anything, but it looks like no modification is required to use PxScan/PxView on Windows Vista.

The phenomenon about bad pictures being saved seems to be caused by 16 bit desktop resolutions. It almost seems too simple to be true, and thinking about it, the current implementation just cannot work on 16 bit desktops, but this idea was just too far away to try that on my own...

Jan 30, 2007 - New phenomenon: Bad pictures are saved

A few days ago, I got a bug report with pictures attached. It showed images, saved with PxView, where you could see each odd line on the left side and each even line on the right side, with every second pixel left out. The entire picture had a weird green background. I have no idea what it is coursed by, and I cannot reproduce it. So far, I can only guess, and I guess that some structure does not have a fixed size even though I assume it to have a fixed size.

Protected commands and the PX-755/760

Plextor does obviously not tolerate that anyone can use the unique functions of the PX-755/760 drive on Linux or other "alternative" operating systems, or that anyone uses alternative applications on Windows. Plextor has introduced "protected commands" into these drives. Commands like enabling/disabling GigaREC or SilentMode, as well as all quality check commands, now require to retrieve a code and send another one that is calculated from the received one back to the drive, otherwise those commands will be rejected by the drive. Please note that I have bought the drive to find out what means Plextor is using in order to force people into using PlexTools, and even to force people into using Windows.

News: With Firmware 1.04 of the PX-755, PxScan 1.7.9 doesn't tell users anymore why it doesn't work. More information about this is available here.

Table of contents

What is PxScan/PxView?
What is PIE/PIF?
What is Beta/Asymmetry?
What is Jitter?
What is TA?
The output of PxView
Reading the result
Testing CDs
Influence of the scan speed on the result
The config.ini file of PxView
Known issues / Trouble-Shooting



What is PxScan/PxView?

PxScan/PxView allow you to check the condition of recorded CDs and DVDs using Plextor drives, so that you can determine which discs your DVD writer can properly handle, and which not, or to monitor the "development" in time of certain discs, for example to see a disc degrading before it is too late.

Key features

supported drivesPX-716, PX-714, PX-712, Premium and probably PX-708A2
supported tests
  • C1/C2
  • PIE
  • PIF
  • Jitter/Beta
  • TA
Maximum scanning speed for C1/C2/CU and PIE/PIF (drive limitations)
scaleadjustable (automatically as well as manually), linear and logarithmic scale
window sizefreely adjustable + predefineable sizes
pxd file outputThose files contain all error values. That means, you can easily make new picture files from old scan results without having to rescan anything
typical window size of output picture fileless than 450x1000 pixels (for a doublelayer dvd+r disc including PIE, PIF, J/B and TA test results), compared to more than 4 times that much for PlexTools screenshots
typical output PNG file size8..40 kB (PIE data only..doublelayer disc with all tests)
storing meta dataThe output pxd file contains not only error data, but also some information about the disc itself (manufacturer ID, disc type, number of layers, position of layer break, for dvd-r the dvd writer used to record the disc)

What is PIE/PIF?

DVD error correction is working on blocks of 32 kBytes each. That data is arranged, including all error correction data, in a 208x182 matrix, meaning there are 208 rows and 182 columns. If a line contains errors, it is called a "PIE". The number of errors does not matter. It only matters whether or not there are any errors. If too many bytes are corrupt, so that error correction inside that line does not work, it is called a PIF = Parity Inner Failure.

The upper part of the image displays PIEs, the lower part displays PIFs. The red lines resemble the limits which should, according to the specification for DVDs, not be exceeded. However, a limit being exceeded does not necessarily mean that a DVD is unuseable, neither does no limit being exceeded mean that a DVD is necessarily good.

PIE is counted over blocks of 8 consecutive blocks of 32 kBytes each.Thus, it is often called PIsum8. PIFs are counted for each block separately

The highest values which are possible are PIE = 1664 and PIF = 208. This means it does not make much sense to set the scales even higher than the default values.

What is Beta?

The beta scan shows how well pits and lands on a disc are balanced. Beta is also called 'asymmetry' and should be between -5% and +15%. Also, it should not show sequences of large jumps in a staircase shape.

What is Jitter?

Jitter expresses how much the structures recorded to a disc deviate from the length they are supposed to have. Jitter should be as low as possible, however, it is not possible to get jitter values in per cent using Plextor drives.

What is TA?

The TA test will create a histgramme of pit-land/land-pit transition lengths on a logarithmic scale: Due to jitter, those structures will never have the exact length they are supposed to have (3, 4, 5, ..., 10, 11 and 14), but will differ more or less. A perfect test result shows spaces between each peak, meaning that stuctures supposed to have a length of x are always in [x-0.5, x+0.5], so that there is no ambiguity.

The standard deviation (also called root mean square error) of the results of this test is the Jitter. However, note that the values obtained by calculating this value seem a bit too high, so that I won't actually call those numbers "jitter".

This test is only available on PX-714/716 and can only be run on recorded DVD media. You cannot run it on pressed media nor on any CD media. Since trying to do so crashes those drive's firmware, PxScan prevents users from trying.

The output of PxView

When scanning a fully recorded DVD+R DL, there will be 260864 values for PIF and 32608 values for PIE. A typical screen, however, can display not more than 2048x1536 pixels. A typical resolution is about 1152x864. That means that 260864 values have to be represented using only 1000 pixels, or even less, while losing as little information as possible. In other words, one line has to represent at least 261 values, depending on screen resolution and picture size.

The solution used in PlexTools is not to solve the problem at all: The highest value of all values being represented by one line counts. In PxView, however, the color indicates how many of those values exceed a certain value. The full manual contains an example demonstrating why this is an advantage.

The Beta scale used in PxView is the same as in Plextools 2.17 till PxView 1.7 and is the same as in PlexTools 2.19 beginning with PxView 1.8.

The TA test result will be displayed as a graphic only, but when saving the result as a bmp or png file, numbers will be added: The root mean square error in per cent of all values obtained during the TA test, as well as the root mean square error for each peak. The average value will be called "avg", the others will be presented after "3T-11T/14T", meaning that the values following this string represent the root mean square error for pit-land/land-pit transitions of 3T, 4T, ..., 10T, 11T, 14T. Those values should be small.

Reading the result:

This is explained in detail in the full manual.

Influence of the scan speed on the result

Basicly, higher scanning speeds lead to higher error rates and thus to worse scan results. Examples showing the same discs being scanned at different speeds can be found in the complete manual.

The config.ini file of PxView

This file allows to customize the output of PxView. Please refer to the full manual for further information. A more comfortable way to customize the presentation of scan results will be implemented in a later version of PxView.


Download the files you need from the download section, unzip them to the same folder, and launch one of the scan*.bat files. Wait till it has finished. Then, open the pxd file pxscan creates in pxview, add some information on the disc in the edit line in PxView, and save it. Go to trouble shooting if this does not work.

You can double click on a pxd file and then connect it to PxView, so that opening pxd files will be more convenient in the future.

pxscan pisum8 pif speed=8 destfile=lg4163b_%MID.pxd
pxscan pisum8 pif jitterbeta destfile=pio108_118_yuden000-t02-00_16x.pxd
(same as pxscan all destfile=pio108_118_yuden000-t02-00_16x.pxd)

More details can be found in the full manual.

Here the complete list of parameters:
pieperform pisum8 test
pisum8perform pisum8 test
pifperform pif test
jitterbetaperform jitter and beta test (only on DVDs)
taperform TA test. You can manually indicate the positions to run the TA test at for single layer discs and for Layer 0 of double layer discs, like
Note that you can theoretically test the Leadout area, or even unrecorded area, however, values above 4600MB will not be accepted. You can indicate only 6 positions due to limitations of PxView
cxperform C1/C2 test (only on CDs)
allperform all available tests (out of cx, pisum8, pif, jitter/beta, ta test). This is equal to cx pie pif jitterbeta ta
drivenbr=iuse the ith drive for scanning. A large value for i will list all drives available
serial=sUse drive for scanning of which the serial number contains the string s
debugproduce excessive debug output
destfile=namedefines the output file name (can include %-placeholders). Use "destfile=" to have PxScan automatically create a (hopefully) unique file name.
autolaunchLaunch PxView immediately after scanning has been finished and have PxView automatically create a PNG file
abort=nAbort PIE and PIF scan after n read errors
multiAsk for next disc once scanning is done

Known issues:
The Plextor PX-712 cannot tell a DVD±R DL apart from a DVD-ROMThis is a firmware limitation only Plextor could fix
POFs (i.e. read errors) cannot be detected with PxScan.I don't know how to do that while a quality check is in progress. However, you can easily check for those by doing a Nero DVD Speed transfer rate test. POFs will be reported as "uncorrectable L-EC error". Other error messages usually mean that the drive has not found anything to perform any error correction on, which is even worse than a POF.
PxView can display images on 16 and 32bit desktops (16 bit beginning with version 1.4) only. Saving pictures only works on 32 bit desktops. This is actually a bug, but no new version of PxView will be released just to fix this. Please use a 32 bit desktop. I'm lazy :P

For a more detailed list, please refer to the full manual.

Technical information/Trouble Shooting:

PxScan is using ASPI in order to communicate with drives. If you want it to work with USB2/Firewire drives, you have to use an ASPI layer that supports such drives, such as Nero ASPI or Frog ASPI. You cannot use Adaptec ASPI or Padus ASPI in that case because those will not detect such drives. If a drive is not detected for whatever reason, besides being connected via USB2/Firewire, using Nero ASPI or Frog ASPI often helps to fix this. If you have installed Nero 6, you already have Nero ASPI and you can simply copy it from the Nero folder to the PxScan folder. If you don't have Nero 6, you can get Nero ASPI from Nero's download section. Frog ASPI also only requires to copy the downloaded file to PxScan's folder.


If you are a new user, you should simply download the items all you need without manual. If you don't know how to interpret quality tests, you should also read the manual.

When updating this software, you do not need to download libgfl again, and usually you do not need to update Nero ASPI or Frog ASPI either. Also, you will usually see 2 versions of pxscan and pxview in the download list. I do this just in case a new version turns to be out buggy: In this case, send me a bug report and use the older version until I can fix it. If the latest versions of those applications work correctly, use those.

full manual2007/02/24 644 kBManual for PxScan and PxView which should be complete enough for you to use this software even if you have no experience with it
all you need without manual2007/02/24 594 kBContains the components you need to use PxScan/PxView:
  • PxScan 1.7.12
  • PxView 1.12.6
  • Frog ASPI 0.29.4 (with Bertrands Danos' permission)
  • libgfl220
PxScan v1.7.122007/02/24 94 kBFixes a bug due to which TA-scanning on PX-760 for DVD-R/W saved bad pxd files
PxScan v1.7.112007/02/04 94 kBHandles file names with drive and directories better and improves detection of locked drives.
PxView 1.12.62006/06/24 45 kBSupport for new TA meta information stored by PxScan 1.7.10. Note: I got a report that the version from June 21st didn't launch on some systems because of missing files such as MFC71.DLL. The reason is that PxView is dynamically linked to MFC and that I've compiled that version with Visual Studio 2003 instead of Visual Studio 6. This new build was compiled with the same source code (thus I didn't change the version number), but with Visual Studio 6, so that those missing files are not needed.
PxView 1.12.52006/05/14 45 kB
  • fixed problem that corrupt filename was shown when launching pxview from command line with a file to open without full path, for example by using pxscan's autolaunch parameter
  • fixed problem that loading a file from command line with 0 C2 errors lead to bad position of jitter/beta label
libgfl.rar2006/04/01 375 kBNeeded by PxView in order to support PNG file output. Note that the link where I downloaded this is dead, I have no idea where the official page is or if there is any. Google didn't help me last time I tried
source code2006/06/21 90 kBlicence: GPL for PxScan and PxView, except for the parts taken from the gflSDK. Please following the link to the gflSDK to find further information about its licence
some pxd files--a bunch of scan results
pictures--some png format pictures sorted by media ID
patch for readcd--adds Plextor and NEC C1/C2 scan capability to cdrtools
qpxtool--Another attempt to get a tool with Plextor Q-Check functions to sourceforge
Frog ASPI--Free ASPI layer made by Bertrand Danos that works with PxScan and supports USB/Firewire drives

Thread about the linux version on cdfreaks

Additional note: pxlinux was supposed to be hosted on Sourceforge much earlier. However, a troll called beurktakeshima claimed that pxlinux violated intellectual property of Plextor, and he demanded that the project be rejected. Obviously, he does not want linux users to be able to use their Plextor DVD writers the same way as windows users. Another dicussion on this issue can be found there.

However, I personally do not see how his accusations could be true. It is highly unlikely that those commands are intellectual property of anyone.

May 28, 2005:

You might find threads and news on interesting if you are using an operating system different from Windows and are using Plextor drives supporting QCheck.