I think you guys answered my question!
If they are read the same way, then maybe the laser is dying...or is dirty. I am going to clean it tonight - removed the drive, etc. Then just for kicks update the firmware (in process of trying to determine if it will update drivers as well - but agree with you, makes sense wouldnt be the driver). Finally, do one more uninstall-install of the hardware.
I'll let you know what happens. Thanks for the info, appreciate it.