Yeah, I'd have to agree on both counts.
As far as build quality goes.. this has been going on for years. Companies have been trying to make drives more affordable and one way to do this is to use cheaper materials.
Writing quality is a big issue as well. Many manufacturers seem to be so busy working on their next model that they don't take the time to tweak their current drives. The sad thing is most consumers don't seem to care so they get away with it.
Keep in mind too that people on the forums here at CDRLabs and CD Freaks are pretty anal about their drives. They won't accept anything but the absolute best. Many of these people bitch about writing quality that in reality is well within acceptable limits.