A few years ago I had stumbled across this site and read the review of the Samsung SH-S203B drive. I've since bought it (my first and only DVD writer, as I stubbornly continued using my old LiteOn CD-RW drive until my old PC died) and I don't really have any complaints about it. A couple months ago, I finally updated its firmware to SB04, and again no issues.
However, I have an interesting predicament coming up. I've just imported a couple Japanese albums, and they come with a Region2 DVD. I don't want to have to keep changing my drive's region code over and over, so my option seems to be to get a second drive, set that to region 2 and leave it alone. It seems coming back here was a good idea though, as it seems there's an easy to use patch utility where I can seemingly load the SB04 firmware and patch it to be region-free. Problem is, does this void warranty? Flashing firmware is always a risky move, and I don't really want to kill my drive, considering SH-S203B's seems tough to come by nowadays.
I do have a modded PS2 though; I've used it to play a couple Japanese import games, as well as a couple burned games to see if they were worth it (good thing I did; they were terrible games.) I'm not sure if this could play those R2 DVDs too, but I'm assuming quality wouldn't be as good as simply running off the disc to the PC. On the PC I would be using the open-source Media Player Classic player.
My second issue is with its ripping quality. I assumed they were all pretty similar, but the mini-FAQ in the Samsung section of this forum seems to indicate it's not good for audio CD's, or something with its quality scanner? I'm not too sure what this means, but if I go the route of a second drive to set to be permanently region2, what's a good one for ripping audio CD's, and maybe video/DVDs?
If my SH-S203B is good enough for all these tasks with a simple RPC1 patch though, I may just go that route.. would be cheapest and least hassle.
Thanks in advance.