- In general, I recommend you avoid -R media with the BenQ drive. It will work but it might have problems reading back in some stand alones.
Cheap DVD media that I've used which burns fast and scans well includes:
1. Prodisc 8X media (R03) burns great at 12X (eg) SmartBuy.
2. Ritek 8X media (R03) burns well at 12X (eg) Ridata.
I'm in the Toronto area and either of the above DVD's can be picked up in quantity 50 for about $23.00 Cdn or less from many of the small computer stores in the area.
The OEM drive might create warranty issues for you - particularly if you need to convert from the "G" firmware to the "B" firmware, although this is probably a minor issue. The retail drive often includes an 80-conductor IDE cable and recording software while the OEM one may not.
From my perspective a good firmware to choose is B7T9. It might be a bit safer to wait a while before installing B7U9, since some people appear to be having issues with it. In general, the higher the firmware letter, the more recent it is. It's usually safer to install a recent firmware since it will provide the latest firmware bug fixes. The risk is that it might create some new ones.
I think your P2600 with 512Megs of ram is sufficient.
Be careful with cheap media for any purpose - whether it is +R or -R. There is a lot of really BAD media sold - you need to be a bit careful. BenQ media is fair to middle of the road - not horrible but not great. I likely won't buy it again. In my opinion the Prodisc media creates a significantly better quality burn.
Bringing stuff across the US border to Canada is often a hassle, and is usually something I like to avoid if I can. Depending on how it's shipped, and how lucky you are, you may find yourself being dinged with a $30.00 so-called "brokerage fee".
For copying movies, both DVD Shrink http://www.dvdshrink.org/where.html and DVD Decrypter http://www.dvddecrypter.com/ are free and work very well together. They should both be installed to provide a complete, very high quality solution.
The easiest way to implement this is as follows:
- Place your movie in the BenQ drive and wait 15 seconds or so for it to be recognized.
- Launch "DVD Shrink" and click the "Open Disc" toolbar button to load your movie. It may take a minute or so for it to quickly preview your disc.
- Click the "Backup" button on DVD Shrink and you will get a multi-tabbed box.
- From the "Target Device" tab, you should select "ISO Image File and burn with DVD Decrypter".
- From the "Quality Settings" tab select "Perform deep analysis before backup to improve quality". Also select "Compress video with high quality adaptive error compensation", and then select "Maximum Sharpness".
- Click OK to begin the process. On an AMD P3200 machine, it takes about three hours for the ISO movie file to be created.
- DVD Decryptor will be automatically launched and configured when the process completes. Use it to burn the ISO image to a DVD disc.
- Once in a while, you may find a movie that DVD Shrink cannot rip, due to copy protection issues. In most of these cases DVD Decrypter can be used successfully to rip the movie to disc. Then you will most likely need to launch DVD Shrink and click the "Open Files" toolbar button (instead of the "Open Disc" button) so that you can compress the movie to fit on a standard 4.3 gig disc.
That's it from my perspective.
Hope some of this helps.