The AOpen doesn’t read DVD-RAM (which the 4163B can read and write). I own the Toshiba 1612 and I love it (after flashing a patched firmware: http://hijacker.rpc1.org/toshiba_nolimit/ which increases the drive’s reading speed). The noise level is ok and the drive is reliable. I know a number of people (including myself) that have been using these drives for some years without any quirks. I can’t say too much about coping with copy-protection, but I remember it received a high rating from the people who made CloneCD at the time I bought it.You will have to buy a second-hand drive, though, as they’re not sold any more. The newer Toshiba drives starting with 1812 are average to crap, the 1912 is certainly better than the 1812.
From what I have heard or read, the AOpen is an excellent drive, too. I have no first-hand experience with it, though. There are many other versions of this drive that
do not have much in common with the AAP version, but you seem to know that.