I purchased my DVD writer in August last year, did a lot of research and concluded the Benq 1640 was probably the best for me.
A friend wants to purchase a writer and helping him research. My friend doesn't have a DVD reader and therefore will be using his writer also for reading and the occasional quality scans. Things have changed again but my admitedly rather quick look at reviews and forum posts suggests, it probably comes down to the Benq 1650 (or 1655 if he wants LS) or LiteOn 1693S. The Benq 1650 can analyse jitter which the LiteOn can't.
Also I'm a bit wary of the LiteOn. It's the same model LiteOn I was evaluting when making my decision. A number of people claim that with hacked firmware, it's good with cheap media, excellent with medium quality media and better then the benq with MCC but a number of people claim no way, it's absolutely crap. I was unable to conclude myself from the quality scans. No one seems to disagree that the Benq 1650 is very good with high quality media, and quite good with medium quality media. I suspect my brother will be avoiding the ultra cheap stuff. So the Benq seems the safer bet to me. Also we can expect the Benq 1650 to mature whereas the LiteOn has matured (well maybe more hacked firmware will help).
The only other real option I've come across is the Benq 1670. Other then not being out yet, the bigger problem with this drive perhaps is that as it uses a completely new chipset, we don't really know how it will perform. Benq will surely provide excellent firmware support, but they can only do so much. If the chipset and platform aren't up to scratch, it will never rival the 1650. Given time to mature, we will see what it can do, but until then, we just have to wait and see...
Having said that, I do believe the 1640 is still a good bet, if it can be found however is not recommended for 16x +R (which my friend probably won't do anyway). Correct?