I have a Sony CRX195E4 (firmware updated to S101) that used to work pretty well with most any CD-R brand I tried (only had the occasional coaster). Lately almost every disc seems to burn fine, no errors reported, then when I eject and re-insert it it turns out to be blank. Running simulations before burning reports no errors. I was mostly using Philips Silver-Blue (no longer available for use or testing in local stores) and Arita, both manufactured by Ritek. Sony Supremas (made by Sony) seems to be the only brand that works reliably.
Would using a lens cleaning CD help, or is the firmware just out of date for currently available CD-Rs?
I've used the burner on both PCs in the house using Nero 5.5 in WIndows XP and K3b 0.12.2 in Linux.
The Windows XP box recently had a motherboard replacement, after which CD burning would only work reliably at 8x (burning at full speed would cause blue screens due to IDE driver problems, which I've since fixed), except for burning ISO images, which worked OK at 40x. I think I have to do a clean re-install to fix everything.
The Linux box (Fedora Core 4) could burn data CDs at full speed with no problem.