Well, the original thread for the drive is here: http://club.myce.com/f61/liteon-ihes112-212-3-a-322088/
If you'd like to throw any results in there, that would be great.
[Warning: a lot of stuff about to come your way.]
If you use it to write CD media, the Optiarc AD-7260S and NEC ND-3500A should be able to scan them. (No jitter, but C1 and C2 are reported, which is better than nothing.) If you use it to write DVD media, the Samsung SH-S223_ and Optiarc AD-7260S (combined) should be able to give a decent view of the quality (again, no jitter, only PIE and PIF will be reported). If you want to do transfer-rate tests, the Pioneer should be a good judge of quality--if it can read the discs fine, you should be fine. CD-DVD Speed or OptiDriveControl will work for this.
If, for your disc creation tests with the iHES112, you can use ImgBurn to write your media, being sure to set ImgBurn to save the write graphs, This will allow you to see how the write curve looks, and see if any slowdowns occurred -- and, if so, where they occurred.
Feel free to use any combination of media you want. It might be fun to see how write quality is with it and any media you consider to be low-quality.
As for doing a transfer-rate test on BD media...uh... I can't remember the best way to run a transfer-rate test on a pressed BD-ROM with copy protection (i.e. the movies). I think you can start to play the disc back in a given software BD player, then pause/stop it, and run a transfer rate test with CD-DVD Speed or OptiDriveControl like normal. If not, you might be able to use some of the popular Blu-ray backup software to backup a few discs to hard drive (without compression) to just get the raw read speed of the drive, in terms of how long it takes to copy.
You already have one sample point -- the disc took 35 minutes. You can compare that to other BD drives to see where it falls. (Usually, the transfer rate tests include a total time from start to completion).
The drive has no known tweaks. As noted in the original thread, there is no way to throw the drive into an RPC1 state, so DVD region protection mechanisms function like they normally do with retail DVD media containing movies. Any region-free needs you may have will rely on purely software solutions, like AnyDVD or the like.
There's nothing out there to speed it up, or tweak the quality. No patched firmware exists.
I'm not even sure if LiteOn's usual SmartBurn features (Online HyperTuning, Forced HyperTuning, OverSpeed, SmartBurn) are available for tweaking, due to the different chipset. [Were these features available with this drive, they would only affect DVD writes and nothing else for this drive, since it doesn't write to BD media].
"Improved BD quality" in the list of changes for the firmware probably means it is more stable at reading some BD media, or more reliable. In any case, it's probably safe to update from ML02 to ML05, but feel free to run tests on both firmwares; if there is a difference, it would be good to note the difference should others run into the same situation.