First, the word of thanks....
A huge, huge thank you to deanwitty & jamescooley1 whose combined effort to get the word out saved me from ordering an IHAS424 and ending up with an NEC-based Optiarc drive! I owe you one, guys. While I have nothing against NEC & think they are fine drives (the drive I will be replacing is a venerable NEC ND-3500AG that I will sorely miss as it was a perfect performer) I wanted a Lite-On drive this time around as I wanted to give SmartErase a go & have the ability to measure jitter.
If I wanted a Sony/NEC Optiarc drive I would have ordered the real deal that wasn't rebadged, dad gummit! So, thanks to you two guys. You saved me time, aggravation, and a lengthy RMA procedure.
In case anyone doesn't know what I'm talking about, remember this, boys & girls:
IHASx24-08 - Lite-On with an MTK chipset
IHASx24-98 - Lite-On with an NEC Optiarc chipset
Once I knew what I was looking for I thought it was going to be easy, but such was not to be. I live in the United States and IHAS424-08s are, as I quickly found out, are scarcer than hen's teeth as of this writing. Sure, there are plenty of places selling them on the internet, but when pressed you'll find out that the -08 is out of stock & discontinued...or even worse, the merchant doesn't know any better and quietly substituting the -98 because their distributor told them it was a direct replacement in the product line with identical functionality.
There are a few people selling them on eBay, but with the 'quiet' replacement of the -98 in the -08's stead I didn't want to take a chance on getting boned by a seller who simply did not know better. Any attempts to contact sellers and try to side-step the issue by asking if there was a presence of the SmartErase feature (the -08 has it, but the -98 doesn't) were either not answered or answered with replies that did not inspire confidence.
All of the Big Guys (NewEgg, Fry's, ZipZoomFly, etc.) had no stock. Out Of Stock and Discontinued were the common terms used when searching for the elusive IHAS424-08. That, unfortunately, meant that if I was going to secure one of these precious jewels for my own use I was going to have to venture down the less traveled paths of the internet & look into the 'corners' of the 'net hoping that there was still existing stock somewhere & not have to pay through the nose to get it.
I found a few shops that struck me as small businesses claiming to have stock on their web sites, but small businesses are infamous for not updating their sites and in-stock indicators so I shot out inquiries to every place that claimed to have stock & hoped for the best.
I got a few replies that stock was indeed on hand, but I was nervous. I had never dealt with these 'little guys' before. It's well-known that there are rip-offs and scams a-plenty on the world wide web and to be honest, my gut just wasn't 100% comfortable with the whole situation.
Adamantly resolved to secure one of these drives, though, I realized I was going to have to take a chance if I were to secure my prize. The outfit I decided to choose for this purchasing 'experiment' was a company who was advertising on the Buy.com marketplace. Buy.com offers buyer protection if the seller were to give me the high hard one so I figured that was the best safety net I was going to have so I closed my eyes and prayed as I sent my money out on the wind.
The name of this outfit was named Platinum Micro out of California. When I first sent my inquiry it was mid-morning Monday February 15th. I received a reply to my question just a couple hours later from a Mr. Bobby Lee Sirichalermchai. His answer turn-around impressed me as usually businesses just check their email once a day in the morning & that's it. His reply was the quickest beating the nearest competitor for my money by several hours.
I checked Reseller Ratings. Reviews were mixed. Some bad reviews last year, but recent reviews were much better. I was hoping service had improved & was evidenced by Mr. Sirichalaermchai's speedy response. I mulled it over a few hours & placed my order in the evening figuring I still had Buy.com's protection policy to back me up if things went pear shaped.
After I placed the order, I figured what the heck...I'll send Mr. Sirichalermchai an email with my order # so he could see it in the morning. Crazy as it sounds I got a reply from in less than an hour stating he'd look for my order and ship it out as soon as the order appeared on his computer.
True to his word, the next day Tuesday the 16th I received a FedEx tracking # saying it would be delivered on Friday the 19th. Imagine my surprise when I got home from work this evening (the 18th) and the drive was waiting for me! Quickly opening the package revealed.........an IHAS424-08 with SmartErase!!
Three cheers to you, Platinum Micro & Mr. Sirichalermchai. And a huge thumbs up to Mr. deanwitty and Mr. jamescooley1 without whose valuable information this all would not have been possible!
(Sorry for the long length of this post, but I thought exceptional service deserved some exceptional bragging.)