Well, my replacement drive from NewEgg arrived today- a 52327S! I've always had great service from these folks. Salute!
The drive is somewhat faster to open/close, spinup and recognize than the 52246S, though slightly slower than my 166S. The drawer mechanism is quieter and smoother than both the old burner and the DVD drive, though the drawer seems a tad 'wobbly'. It's just as loud when burning.
Speaking of burning, I've burned a few disks with the drive. Seems to be operating fine, though with more errors than the 52246S (RIP). Here's what I mean. The media is TDK 32x rated, 700 MB, Taiyo Yuden manufactured and was burned at 40x. I wish I had the 52246S to do a read comparison and different media types, but I do not, so take the following FWIW.
This is a single Windows media file burned on the 52246S, 6S0C.
Next, a back up of a boatload of small files, 6S0C.
This was the last disk burned on the 52246S, 6S0F, before it crapped out. Note, it could only burn this disk at 4x.
Now, the 52327S, FW QS03. This is a back up of many files and a slight overburn.
A game disk back up.
And another game back up.
For grins, a Memorex (Ritek) 16x rated 700 MB disk burned at 8x on an Imation 8x20, now in my brother's hands.
It'll be interesting to see what FW upgrades will do for the drive. Now, to get up the nerve...