Do not go out and purchase an external optical drive...they are far more problematic, ie., slower, more conflicts, etc., etc. If you're given no choice as in a laptop, fine, but internals are cheaper and more efficient all around.
I'm not certain that I follow you...gold rips ok to your hdd, ie., you are able to view the movie from your hdd, right? When you put a blank disc in, fab immediately wants to finalize it? Does any writing occur at all? any specific error message?
Matshita (panasonic) drives tend to be very restrictive and are not supported by fab. Unfortunately, I think this is your major issue here with failed burns.
Nero is probably your best bet for an all around burning utility...it just won't decrypt. I don't think you can do better than fab for burning movies, but as I said, with the matshita...I don't think that's an option. I would stay away from nero 7.0., many user complaints and very buggy. I have v. 184.108.40.206 and it's quite stable. I know that the basic utility can be downloaded on a free trial basis but I'm not sure if you can still get v.6.* without purchasing it. Nero recode2 is more advanced and will give you many more opotions, but you would have to purchase the ultra 6 version to access it.