If you can find one I would get a Samsung SH-S202/3. As TM said they are discontinued, but you may be able to find one (they are still around here in the UK). Just don’t buy one of the new 22x Samsung models by mistake.
But if you can’t find a Samsung then an Optiarc AD-7200 series drive is a good choice. Again, don’t get an AD-7220 series by mistake (rebadged Lite-On).
I have both a Samsung SH-S202N and an Optiarc AD-7200A and would make the following comments.
- The Samsung writes CDs with lower jitter than the Optiarc. On good TY CDs written at 32x and scanned with a Benq the jitter is mostly a straight line at 6.95% (the lowest value the Benq reports). With the Optiarc at 32x the jitter should still be OK (around 10%, which I consider perfectly acceptable).
- Both drives do not cache audio and have decent C2 reporting, but the Optiarc is considered to be a poor reader of damaged CDs. The Samsung is excellent.
- Both are excellent DVD writers.
- I haven’t tested reading poor DVDs, see 2 for CDs.
- I haven’t used the Optiarc much to write cheap CDs, but the Samsung is very good. I haven’t used either for writing cheap DVDs.
- My Samsung is a lot quieter than my Optiarc.
Also if you are interested in scanning, my Samsung is a good DVD scanner (PIE & PIF similar to my Lite-On) but of course no jitter and very limited CD scanning (reports only E31 & E32). The AD-7200 series Optiarcs appear to be much more consistent scanners than earlier NECs & Optiarcs (often reported random spikes and very sensitive to scanning speed). A much more useful CD scanner than the Samsung; reliable C1 reporting (E11, E21 & E31), but E22 errors not reported (only E32 as C2) and no jitter. So no substitute for a Benq or Plextor, but as good as it gets these days. As a DVD scanner it’s probably OK, I would want to verify the results with another drive.