I'm sorry to report a faulty DVD-writer, three days old and it already feels like three weeks of frustration. Let me explain.
Looking to buy my first DVD-writer, I settled on this model (LG GSA-4163B), as the Poineer DVR-109 and NEC-3520 didn't have either "two sheep" rating by CloneCD, or Bit setting capabilities, or both. Liteon SOHW-1653S just fell off my shortlist because of bad reviews regarding the media compatibility.
Specific trouble I'm experiencing is that DVD-ROM discs are going fine (I think) reading-wise, but the DVD-Videos are_not_being_recognized. In one instance, it took me better part of four hours, opening and closing the drawer to get the disc recognized, and DVD Decryptor took 1 hour 50 minutes to rip the files, producing many errors even after retries. Funny thing is that the discs themselves are not damaged or dirty, and play begins in my Sony DVD Player in a matter of seconds. They are also being recognized in a Matsushita 8583A DVD-ROM (1999 vintage).
I was starting to think that it may be some form of copy protection or something, but searching the net yielded no results. I have even burned two DVD-R discs (TDK 8x) without the burner reporting any errors, only to find they stop playing around 1hr. 20 mark, with gross artifacts and skipping 3-4 minutes at a time. Running a quality scan with Nero CD-DVD Speed wasn't possible, as LG writer doesn't support it, and the transfer rate test failed around the middle of the graph, reporting CRC errors (uncorrectable errors) or something like that. I ran the scan on the Matsushita DVD-ROM, as I've already lost faith in LG.
I'm not asking for help, but instead offering this little episode to whoever happens to get stuck with similar symptoms. They are definitely NOT the symptoms of a copy protection of any kind, but a hardware failure. My machine is in a decent condition, Athlon XP 2600, not overclocked, and not misconfigured in any way. There were no misterious freezes, hardware conflicts, or any other troubles before the installation of LG writer, or after it, just what I describe here.
My only conclusion is that I have ended up with a dud writer, and I'll be making a little visit to the shop tomorrow. If they are reasonable, they will let me swap it for a LiteOn 1653S, as I have lost faith in LG for good. If not, well... someone's gonna wear it...
All the best, and keep up the good work, people. Knowledge is indeed - Power. And there is no limit to it.