While there are some really crappy drives to avoid, the newest models form benq, nec, liteon, hg, pioneer, and others are all good drives, They all have thier strong points. Thats why I often recomend reding the reviews here (at least the conclution where they list the strong and weak points).
Personally, I think the benq is the best bang for the buck right now, good/fast reader, good writer, good scanner. Any of these other good drives would most liklly server the average person well. There really are no bad choices among them (only with the latest models).