I bought this Retail version from NewEgg on 6/1 @ $54 total paid (free shipping). So, about $6 less right now. Not a smokin' deal, but not too bad either considering these drives are still going about $49 (after rebate) for rebadged 1620's right now.
NO extra faceplates. The drive / tray .. all black.
NO IDE cable ... that was disappointing, cuz I was hoping for an 80 pin cable - ie. instead having to dig through my boxes of crap to find out where I put all those damn cables I've collected over the years.
Comes with a Nero cd ... haven't used it though, so not sure which version it is.
(at least for me) ... it arrived in a worn, old looking OUTER box. The actual retail drive itself was in a brand new sealed box inside the master box. The media were in the usual 25 pk shrink wrapped spindles. Aside from my surprise at the worn looking outer box (it was even marked "beige"), the contents were fine and new.
MEDIA: 25 pk BENQ CD-R's (haven't used, so not sure MID) + 25 pk BENQ 8x DVD+R (MID: DAXON AZ2).
DAXON AZ2: not the greatest media, but not terribly bad. I've only used about 5 of the dvd's, and results as follows (8x burn):
DAXON AZ2 ( B7U9 f/w @ default write strategy ):
96 QS - PIE @ 15 max / 46,878 ttl; PIF @ 7 max / 1,738 ttl
97 QS - PIE @ 20 max / 43,575 ttl; PIF @ 6 max / 469 ttl
DAXON AZ2 ( B7U9 f/w @ MBIPG101 R05 write strat ):
97 QS - PIE @ 16 max / 23,378 ttl; PIF @ 6 max / 407 ttl
97 QS - PIE @ 17 max / 29,396 ttl; PIF @ 6 max / 386 ttl
97 QS - PIE @ 11 max / 22,719 ttl; PIF @ 5 max / 362 ttl
Haven't tried them with B7V9 firmware, so maybe they could improve some more. If you do get this retail package, I highly recommend trying MBIPG101 R05 write strategy.
The Benq 1620 'experience' can be wildly varied depending on who you ask (say, Chas0039 vs. Zevia / Djadja / pcdoc / and even crossg ). There are plenty of posts back a month or so back addressing the issues some people had experienced.
If you're willing to roll the dice, it's a fantastic burner with a lot of great features. Although I don't get the pristine scans that have been posted all over the Benq forum, I am very satisfied with my purchase thus far. I returned a brand new NEC 3520 (which was never used, so don't everyone go jump on me at once) to get this retail Benq package.
If you're esp. planning on using some of the high quality brands (ie. TYG02, MCC 003, MCC 004, YUDEN000 T02's, etc), there are some truly amazing scans posted. Surprisingly, my best scan has actually been on el-cheapo sale priced Office Max branded MBIPG101 R04 media. Lol.
I'm sure others will chime in their thoughts, but I don't think Ripit started this post to get into a war over brands. I'm not biased towards any particular brand. All I can say, it's been a good experience so far with this purchase. It may or may not for you.
Keep in mind, if you can hold out a 'little while' longer, the 1640 is looking really promising - esp. with the posts re. "SolidBurn" technology. Just check out the Benq forum.
Or, looking at the current offerings in NewEgg's BENQ burner section, the OEM gray 1620 is $36.99 + $4 shipping. Teapot bought one of these around the time I got my retail 1620, and he's had pretty good results from his comments I've seen posted.