I’m not sure whether going to get one on black friday is good … expecially luckwise
however, so far, I recommend most people the following
LG GSA-H10A/N or H20
The BenQ’s are getting rare since they’ve gone out of production - they’re decent and can do scanning and blah blah. Very good reader for reading DL discs if you use ala42’s MCSE to add the riplock patch. Has solidburn which can help burn quality, WOPC etc. So far, had quite a few troubles with getting good 16x burns on BenQ drives, but anything else is usually superb.
The LiteOn’s have been getting good word since the 6s series - now supporting DVDScan which can read jitter and Beta and Land/Pit histograms etc. Also good - can use Codeguy’s Omnipatcher to increase read speeds too, but personally I think the BenQ is a better reader. Burn quality is good and now has hypertuning similar to BenQ’s solidburn [which helps burn bad quality/variable quality discs].
The Pioneer, I’ve recently owned, and seems to be good for 16x burning but is strategy-based. Has no hypertuning/solidburn so crappy/variable media is gonna turn out crappy. Sometimes creates error spikes on relinks [similar to NEC’s because they use the NEC chipset i guess] which may cause some poorer readers to skip. Generally the Pioneer is solid in performance, read is default slower in my experience and the read speed patch with MCSE doesn’t help reading off DVD-R/+R or maybe i’m wrong. Does not produce accurate scans.
The LG also a strategy-limited drive but generally very fast for burning, good quality. Not much options as it can’t scan, but has DVD-RAM capability if that matters. Generally doesn’t get much firmware updates, but I guess it’s so solid that I wouldn’t mind. Sensitive to bad power supply on the 5v rail as experimentally verified by someone.
Generally - if you don’t know what all the above means, or you don’t want to bother hacking the firmware and voiding warranty - i’d probably be split for a decision. I’d still go with BenQ personally because I believe it’s got good read and write characteristics as long as you don’t write at 16x - and it’s got scanning [however slightly biased]. The LG is worth a look if you’re not technically minded and want fast burns, but for reading I think it has riplock. I’d commend the LiteOn for having similar comprehensive features as the BenQ and the burn quality is getting much better. So it all depends - I’d put BenQ + Liteon ahead for those who are quality/technical minded or want to get into this sort of thing. The LG comes in for burn speed and the Pioneer for being solid if you have supported media.
Of course, people will disagree, but being over at friends place, sampling burnt discs, that’s my experiences.