What really got to me...I thought that maybe it was my computer:
Asus P4C800-E Deluxe with 1 GB SDRAM
WD 10,000 RPM Raptor 74 GB SATA Drive
NEC ND-3500A on IDE 1 as Master
Plextor PX-716A on IDE 2 as Master
Win XP Pro SP-2
Latest version of Nero
So I formatted my hdd...and installed from scratch thinking that something might have corrupted my IDE 2 settings (still said UDMA 4)...nothing...still tanked...Ben was pretty nonchalant about the fact that oftentmes the replacement drives are defective...they why keep sending call tags and UPS both ways...after the first, I was NOT gonna pay for shipping...now everything is UPS ground...
Long story short...Ben asked me to do a burn with CD/DVD Speed 4.0 on both the Plex and NEC...NEC did the burn in 5:50 with a beautiful curve to it...drive still cooks. The Plex got to less than 20 seconds into the burn with Power Rec kicked in and dropped the speed from 7.2X to 2.2X and stayed there...Ben got alarmed...I stopped the burn...rebooted and did another...same thing. Evidently, Power Rec is screwy...My first drive worked for five months with no issues until I updated the firmware from 1.06 to 1.08....then all Hell broke loose...with the death of the drive. Second replacement had TLA 0202 with firmware 1.05 installed. Third drive 0304 with 1.04 firmware. In both cases, I flashed to get the full value of the drive...LOL! I really want a Benq 1640 at this point...but don't expect to see any here in the states for a while. Then there is the NEC 3540...which, if it is half the drive my 3500 is...maybe I should really consider. The only upside to the Benq or NEC is the 8X DL burn speed. I would consider the Plex PX-740A, but I am really leery of Plextor at this point. I have bought their drives over the years...and spent more for the quality...I really think the playing field has leveled off...the 716A impressed me, initially...now I wouldn't pay $35 for one...