You'd be best off looking through the subforums here for specific information regarding these drives. I'm only going to give you generalities, as I only keep up with a few of the dvd drives anymore.
The Optiarc 724x series have a longstanding good rep...the 726x should also be good, as there is little difference in them. I believe they share the same chipset, but there some minor internal differences...and different firmware of course.
Software included with drives is usually somewhat crippled, and rarely worth having. So, it shouldn't count as a major concern when choosing a drive.