i'm a BenQ girl all the way. if you don't need lightscribe I'd recommend the 1650. I have both a 1640 and a 1655 and I'm fully satisfied with them.
you really can't go wrong with NEC, BenQ, LiteOn (whatever the later/latest models are...I'm not sure.
those three brands seem to be tops on the forum.
i don't pay much attention to pioneers, but I think they're more expensive although I could be wrong.
most burner brands have their own forum in the optical drives subsection. I suggest you browse around there for a bit.
very good choice on verbatim media. you won't regret that regardless of what burner you choose.
as long as you keep a clean defragged hard drive, keep your burner firmware up to date, and use good media, pretty much any of the brands I listed will work just fine for your purposes. I wish I was more familiar with modela other than BenQ, but I'm sure you can find out which are the more popular models form their respective forums.
from the BenQ line I'd recommend the 1650. if you can find it for the same/similar price, the 1655 is pretty much the same but has lightscribe. either one of those will work great for you.