Ok, if your transcoding it's all dependant on the speed of your computer and the video files being used. For instance I can take an AVI file and burn it to a movie only DVD in about an hour to an hour and a half on my current computer configuration (actually haven't done one since I got my RAM up to 1.5 gigabytes so it could be even quicker). If you're on like a 1 gigahertz machine or even 1.5 it could take a good bit longer, also faster hard drives help that process to believe it or not. Everything helps when transcoding. You'd have to wait to see how long it would take to burn.
My suggestion would be is to go out to Best Buy and pick up a 50 pack spindle of media that is on sale (I'd recommend DVD+R). I think TDK 50 pack spindles are on sale now. Should be good enough to give you a general idea if the drive is working at least.