What conclusions can we draw from all this testing?
I think the LG BH16NS40 is a better drive than its generally thought of. Not for BD-burning, but as a general purpose drive for burning CDs and DVDs and ripping BDs, since it doesn't have the 'partial riplock' that the Pioneer drive suffers from. It had the best result of any drive for DVD+R SL burns, at less than 1 PIE with the MCC-004s. Plain old single-layer DVD+Rs are more necessary than people think, given the dearth of BD drives on most workstations and computers, and the relative expense of usable DL media. The also gave the very best result for any CD burn, with <1 C1 error with the plain Verbatim discs. Moreover, with quality media like INFOMER40 or VERBATIMe - there are others, I'm sure - it can even be used as a viable BD burner.
Given the low cost of the OEM flavor of the drive - $60 most of the time - it might even make sense to snap one up and use it as a secondary or backup, especially if BD ripping via AnyDVD + eac3to is a common activity. If not, I suppose it makes more sense to pick up a cheap DVDRW (what's the best one of those these days? because god knows I'm not going to do all this testing all over again lololololol).
As for the Pioneers - they mostly did better with questionable media like the PHILIPR04s, the JVCs, and the RITEKBR3s, than the LG did. Between the two, the slightly older BDR-208M did better, and sometimes much better, than the newer BDR-209M, especially with the very same crappy media. (The 209M, however, did slightly better than the 208M with the much-maligned PHILIPR04s.)
The difference between the two isn't very wide, however, when using quality BD media - though the 208M did get the absolute best BD burn scan of all drive-media combinations in the VERBATIMe burn. Still, even though the 209M appears to be a slightly inferior drive, I wouldn't feel too off-put if I couldn't get the 208, or if the 208 were much more expensive. With coupons/deals, the 209 can be had for $70, including retail Bluray software, whereas I haven't been able to find the 208M for less than $100, and only from smaller dealers. And you could forget about getting the superior European flavor of the drive for less than $150. That's just not worth it.
The Pioneers' DVD and CD performance were both fine, though both were outshone by the LG at points. The BDR-208M did an OK, if not great, job with the otherwise atrocious Moser Baer discs, so it may be better at dealing with questionable DVD media as well. The 209M at least showed that it could better deal with crappy CDs, so hopefully there's some kind of trend here. Still - honestly, if you're not already invested in crappy media, the advantage of the Pioneer drives is limited to slightly better BD burns. If you can only afford one drive and can commit to buying good media in bulk, I think the LG makes more sense. If you like sampling different medias and not putting all your eggs in one basket, or if you can't afford to buy in bulk, the Pioneers are unquestionably the better bet. Either way, you'll end up with a solid piece of equipment.
I'm not done testing just yet. I ordered some Panasonic BD-Rs to see just how good they really are ($20 off thanks to eBay bucks) and am still waiting for those to come in. I also ordered some of Millenniata's MDISC BD-Rs to see if they live up to the hype. I don't have the BDR-209M anymore, but could probably reorder it just for reviewing purposes, thanks to Newegg's generous return policy for Premier members. Probably wouldn't do that just for two discs though.
If anybody has suggestions on further discs to test - CD, DVD, BD, whatever - especially cheap ones, please send them my way. Actually, I'm looking forward to any feedback, of any kind, assuming anybody is still reading this
Good night, and May the Fourth Be With You