I'm trying to choose a new DVD writer for my brother's PC. He's had an NEC 3520A which was replaced by a 4550A, both of which developed reading problems after about 11 months. It's inconvenient more than anything, because I get a refund of the price I paid, so I can buy a new drive for him and have some cash left over
Anyway, his desktop case only has room for one optical drive so I'm looking for a drive that meets the following criteria, in priority order:
1) Excellent reader (CD and DVD)
2) Produces good burns (CD and DVD)
4) Region Free
I'm aware that 3-5 will require hacked firmware, so the question is only whether such firmware is available for a certain drive. I only rate Region Free below Bitsetting because I know he can use something like AnyDVD if necessary.
I'm considering external options as well as internal, as I'm thinking that the NEC drives might have developed problems due to heat, so perhaps an external drive will last longer. Obviously, if he gets an external drive, he'll still have room in the case for another drive but he wouldn't want to buy that now, but if in the future (outside the warranty period) the external drive starts having problems reading, he'll have the option to get a read-only drive.
Speed isn't really important, as his PC is only really up to burning at 8x anyway, although I guess that might change with an external drive.
I've seen the external LG GSA-E20N which looks very interesting because it provides a video input for the PC, which I think my brother would find useful. I'd need to order him a USB2 card as well, because his PC only has USB1 ports, but that's only an extra fiver or so. Nonetheless, if this drive doesn't meet 1) and 2) then it's of no use.
Other options I'm considering are the Pioneer 111 or the Samsung SAM-S182D. I've ruled out the Liteon 165H6S/Sony DWG120ABC as I've read it's a poor CD burner.
So what do you think? Is there another drive that I've missed that would fit the bill? Also, if I go the external route, are there certain chipset's on USB2 cards I should go for/avoid? The PC is a HP Vectra VL400 which has an Intel based motherboard but I can't recall the exact chipset.