First, thanks to everyone who has patiently assisted me with my questions about burning/verification. I'm much better educated than I was a couple of weeks ago - you guys rock!
Part of what I've learned is the general dissatisfaction many members voice concerning slimline drives, and after seeing it first-hand (comparing Verbatim DL burns I've done with the slimeline HP/Optiarc 7701 in my laptop to the Plextor px-760A in my desktop), quality scans reveal that the slimline Optiarc is indeed not performing as consistently as the half-height Plextor.
It appears that the Optiarc AD-7240S burner and Vantec NST-530SU enclosure are held in pretty high regard.
I can pickup the Optiarc for about $35 shipped from an Amazon partner (bulk model). I plan to interface the laptop and enclosure using eSata.
1) Any problems using this drive/enclosure combination?
2) The model number I'd be ordering is 7240S-0B. I guess the B is black...the model specified is the bulk unit (no box). Any problems ordering the bulk unit?
3) Are there any newer/better units worth considering, if my primary goal is to burn Verbatim 8x DL media? (typically burn at 4x).
4) FWIW, the HP/Optiarc 7701H in my laptop apparently supports lightscribe, so I'm covered there.
Thanks for the help!