The answer to "why -R" is pretty simple- I am doing a lot of movies to build a catalog, and then watch on my laptop computer while on break at work.
The laptop (Compaq, ~1.5 to 2 years old) will play -R. It will not play +R. My girlfriend's home DVD player will not play +R either.
Sure, I can get her a home DVD that will play +R, but that would be pretty cheap; buying a new laptop, though, is too much money.
So let's go down your list, shall we?
Ritek: (using the right 2500A firmware...) (also variable in quality)
Great AZO: :Z
HQ AZO: :Z
Digital Matrix: :Z
PioData: :Z (NOT affiliated with Pioneer!)
So pretty much if we're not going to spend the big bucks (ie, TY, Verbatim, etc) it's Ritek. Thought as much.
Meritline: (probably :Z)
Prime: (probably :Z)
A quick search through the media code database over at another site shows that most of these media codes are Princo (:Z), LeadData (:Z), Longten (:Z), or no-name (:Z).
Okay. From this, it's obvious that most of the more expensive stuff isn't any better in quality.
The -R market is flooded with crap, especially if you go with a dealer with Meritline or any of the other "discount" dealers.
Yes, I'm a bit worried about the quality of the discs. Buying good stuff from someone who will take it back if there's a bad batch is probably worth the additional money.
As far as Meritline, I just used them as an example because their prices are pretty typical compared with everyone else online.
Thanks for the help to all. I suspect I'll stick with the Ritek G04 and snag that latest firmware from Herrie- who I urge everyone to support with some $$$$, along with any other forum that you find helpful. Even just $5 goes a long way if everyone who's using a resource donates.