It's just a great drive, period. It burns a wide range of media very well, which can't be said for that many drives. It can rip discs (copy them to the HD) very quickly, it allows PI/PIF quality testing of your burned discs, it allows higher than stock speeds for burning discs if you want higher burn speeds, etc., etc. Flashing the FW will improve the overall performance of the burner, to put it blunt it would be dumb not to as it takes only a few moments and improves the drive. I use BSLB as the newer FWs have some minor bugs, but BSOB is supposed to work quite well overall as well and it improves DVD-R burn quality with some media.