The coming drive from NEC is the 4550, with RAM writing capability.
Possibly they are going the way of Plextor (with BenQ making the 740) with some of their low end models made by Liteon and the rest staying with NEC.
Wouldn't actually be so bad. As I look at my scan scores I see that the 3520 and the 1693 are neck and neck with the Liteon actually winning with TYG02 and MCC 003.
When you consider that 16X is the upper physical limit for any burner, there is just not much more they will put into a burner to attract a repeat customer, even at $45. With all my current 16X burners, there is just not a huge difference if I stick to TY and MCC anyway. Certainly not like there was with the 411 and the 2500.