@ getit29 ... maybe you got a faulty 7240S?
also when you say 'way faster' i assume your exaggerating? (my 7240S does full Verbatim DVD-R discs in around 4minutes and 42seconds (give or take a few seconds) @ 20x)
firmware updates? ... the v1.02 (Liggy's) seem to be perfectly fine if your using quality media like Verbatim etc. so firmware i don't think is a real issue at this point, at least as far as quality media is concerned.
i can't speak for you, but i assume the 'better burns' is negligible in the real world? (because based on my 7240s you could get a drive a little better or a little worse and it would still easily be a good/quality drive as far as burn quality) ... since it seems after a certain point it starts to become more nitpicking/extremist stuff than a serious concern for DATA loss don't you think? ... because the general scans i have done on my drive on Verbatim DVD-R media are WELL within quality scans (i.e. no where near the point of data loss) especially considering 20x burn speed.
so bottom line... based on my experience with my own 7240s it's FAR from a bad burner and it seems others have liked it a lot to. so unless mine happens to die out of no where in the near future i won't be dissing it anytime soon