Simple question but complicated answer.
I take it that you are unable to use warranty service on the 716A. If so, then the question should be whether there are features of the 716A that make it your number one ODD (optical disc drive) for purchase.
First, all ODD’s have had problems. No manufacturer is devoid of issues. Some Manufacturers are better than others when it comes to standing behind their warranties and providing speedy inexpensive/free service. Plextor does stand behind their products. Personally, I had two 716A’s replaced before I obtained my “good” one. The customer must pay for shipping back to Plextor in the USA but in Europe Plextor pays for everything. Turn around time was excellent.
Second, the 716A provides a variety of functions and options via the included software (PlexTools) such as fast ripping speed, automatic offsets when ripping/burning audio CD’s (don’t know of anyone else doing this), proprietary disc quality scanning, GigaRec, SecuRec, etc. Plextor also releases firmware updates reasonably, though one has to wonder how much longer they will continue to support it as newer ODD’s, like the 760, are released. I hope it will be supported for at least a couple more years. Fortunately the 716A is a relatively mature product, having had most bugs worked out already. Just looking at the Plextor forum on CDFreaks you will notice very few new posts compared to other ODD forums.
Third, price to performance may be a consideration for you. The 716A can be a wonderful DVD burner if fed the appropriate media. CD burning is good as well, though DVD burners are not known for their CD burning excellence. They will do the job but none holds a candle to the Plextor Premium for Cd burning. If money is a factor, then other drives are a better selection for comparable or even better DVD burning (with some media). If money is not an issue, and you want the best, then get a Plextor Premium just for CD burning regardless of whatever DVD burner you choose.
Fourth, since you have a 712A, you may want to wait a little bit and see how the new drives from Plextor and other manufacturers perform in the next couple of months. Their performance and increased functionality may be more attractive to you.
Fifth, if you use only Taiyo Yuden or other high quality media, then any ODD should give good results. If you are only able to purchase other or off-brand medi, then do some research as to which ODD has the best results for that particular media. Since the media will add up to more money spent over time than the initial cost of the ODD, it makes more sense to shape the choice of ODD to the type of media to be used. Check out the manufacturer’s supported media list and CDFreaks’ member results for the ODD you are considering to optimize your results.
I have both a Plextor 716A and a BenQ 1640. The Plextor does better with CD burning while the BenQ does better with DVD burning. These differences are small. I have not yet tried Double Layer DVD burning, so look at the forums for results if this is a concern.
Lastly, my brother just purchased his components to build a new system: AMD 64 4000+ San Diego, Asus A8N SLI Deluxe, eVGA GeForce 7800 GT, Corsair PC3200 RAM, WD Raptor SATA, Chenbro Gaming Bomb II case. After dropping all that cash, another $100-130 didn’t matter to him. What did matter, and what drove all his purchase decisions, was best price-to-performance, AKA best bang for the buck. He choose the OEM BenQ 1640 for his ODD since he did not care about the unique features of the Plextor and the performance was comparable for 1/3 the price.
Good luck on your purchase.