General question about recent NEC drives

vbimport

#1

I’ve been an NEC fan for some time. Absolutely love this brand. Pioneer was a fave for awhile, too, but the last few drives they’ve released have been developing errors much sooner than before, and begin having trouble reading discs after only a few months (I go through a lot of drives due to massive amounts of regular burning).

So, NEC is my oasis in the desert, the one I can always rely on. Which is why I’m fairly worried now, from what I’ve been hearing, and why I’m asking for the skinny.

My last NEC was a 3540, a fantastic drive. I’ve got another two Pioneer drives going out, and was planning on replacing them with the current NEC versions, but when I went to do so, began seeing much lower ratings, and lots of talk about them now being some sort of Sony hybrids that aren’t lasting long. If true, this is devastating news. Even worse, when I went to look at the only other model I can find available (3550, if memory serves), I’m seeing quite a few reviews from people that ran into a flaw that caused their drives to literally catch fire, something having to do with a flammable piece of material on the underside that, in some cases (no pun intended) overheats and begins to burn or smolder.

Simply put, I’m stumped as to what’s actually fact, and what I can “safely” do. I need the old stability of the NEC drives I’ve been using. I can’t use the usual drives that don’t hold-up under long-term, daily usage. The Sony angle has me worried because I’ve always relied on Sony drives for their different chipset and architecture, which often allow me to read discs that an NEC can’t (and vice-versa). Very often if one of those drives shows a CRC error, the other will read it fine. If they’re being combined in some way, what will this mean for that “backup” reading capability, as well as longevity?

I’d very much like to hear your opinions on all of this. What’s true, what’s rumor, etc. I’m hoping I won’t have to go hunting for older 3540 units as replacements, since they’re becoming hard to find, but don’t want to buy anything newer until I know the score for certain. Advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks.