Plextor Debuts Qflix Drives

Sonic’s Qflix technology, which allows you to download and burn legal copies of movies and videos direct to DVD, hasn’t garnered much buzz so far. But that hasn’t stopped more hardware vendors from announcing drives with Qflix technology built in. The latest company is Plextor, which is announcing two models today: a $150 external DVD writer and a $90 internal version.

The Plextor models (which boast the following unmemorable names: PX-Q84OU for the external version, and PX-806SA for the internal) hit stores today, where they’ll join similar offerings from Pioneer. Pioneer’s models are a bit cheaper though; its external model lists for $115, and its internal model goes for $70. Dell (s DELL) is the only other company offering a Qflix-enabled DVD burner, which it sells for $120.

All of the Qflix-enabled drives work as typical DVD burners, but include software that allows you to download movies from CinemaNow and burn them directly to Qflix DVDs, which can be played back in any set-top DVD player. The upside is that you get portable copies of the movies you download. The downside is that the system is expensive: Each drives comes with only two Qflix-enabled DVDs. You can expect to pay about $10 for each five-pack of discs you need after that, plus $10 for each movie you download.

I tested the Qflix system on Dell’s drive, and found it simple to use. But the current selection of titles at CinemaNow is so limited that it really restricts the entire Qflix system. Plextor’s announcement says that CinemaNow’s selection “is expected to grow substantially in the coming months.”  Until that happens, Qflix holds little appeal.