I've been encountered some "disk recognition" problems with pressed media as well, LCD. However, my drive burns just fine, and once it recognizes the disk, it rips very well. By chance, what motherboard do you have? I wonder if this is an isolated problem with certain AMD motherboards. I had a previous PX-716A that was giving me the same problems.
Also, this may be a problem with plextools. When I had the first version of plextools installed, my drive wouldn't read anything. After I installed 2.19A it started to read again, but sometimes it takes a couple of tries to get it to recognize the dvd. Very strange. It could be related to a software incompatibily between Windows XP's autoloading function and Plextools, not sure. If anyone knows how to turn off XP's autoload function, please let me know, because I'd love to test whether this is the cause!