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It's a toss up between 2 1633S firmwares (BS0S, BS41) and one 1653S firmware (CS0C). I'd probably say run with BS41 to start with (CS0C needs to be crossflash patched and will void your warranty). It uses CAV for DVD-R whereas BS0S uses Z-CLV. You will find all of these firmwares on my site with modded flashers so you can swap between these version. I'd also suggest you get some +R media line Verbatim 16x +R (MCC004) and use the bitsetting feature if you want to backup video.
DVD Shrink or DVD Decryptor (or both, DVD Shrink needs Nero or DVD Decryptor to burn), are a couple of good choices for backing up DVD movies. If you have some spare cash, I would recommend Elby CloneDVD2 along with SlySoft AnyDVD.