As I read it (= similar, >= slightly better, > better, >> much better):
CD and CD-R read speed: NEC > Pioneer = Benq
CD-RW read speed : Benq > NEC = Pioneer
CD and CD-R DAE speed: Pioneer = Benq > NEC
Scratched CD DAE speed: Pioneer > NEC > Benq
Scratched CD DAE accuracy: Pioneer > Benq >> NEC (15% errors?)
CD-R write speed: NEC > Benq > Pioneer
CD-RW rewrite speed: Benq > NEC > Pioneer
DVD-ROM read speed: similar
DVD-R read speed: NEC > Pioneer > Benq
DVD-RW read speed: Pioneer = Benq >= NEC
DVD-RAM read: Only Pioneer (2X)
DVD+R read speed: NEC > Pioneer > Benq
DVD+RW read speed: Pioneer = Benq >= NEC
DVD+R DL read speed: Benq >= Pioneer >> NEC (91% CPU @2X???)
DVD-Video read speed: Benq = Pioneer >> NEC
DVD+R and DVR-R write speed: NEC = Benq > Pioneer
DVD+RW and DVD-RW write speed: similar
DVD+R DL write speed: NEC = Pioneer >> Benq (only 2X; fixed in pro???)
Is that an accurate summary?
Did I miss or misinterpret anything?
Are some of the shorcomings fixable with "unofficial" firmware?
The 3520A is starting to show up now. The only advantages it has over the 3500A so far are its 8x +RW and 6x -RW writing speeds. It's rumored it will also get support for DVD-R DL. The DW1620A Pro is nothing more than a DW1620A with 4x DL writing speeds. The DW1620A can freely be upgraded to this. The 109/A09 should be announced next month. So far there hasn't been any concrete info on it.
Any "non-concrete" info?