Member Rara Avis
I have two, one that I bought two years ago at an outrageous price, and one that I had installed in my new P4. The old one, a Memorex, is only a 2x and came with it's own software. The only "reliable" way to build a CD was to build an image on the hard disk and then write it to the drive (meaning you need enough hard disk to store it twice). The new drive is a Sony 12x and came with the Adaptec software. I've only used it once so far (still setting up the machine), but I agree the software is VERY easy to use. Surprisingly, though, it didn't seem to be substantially faster than the older Memorex (except I didn't need to build the CD image first).
I would safely recommend either the Memorex or the Sony, having had no problems with either, but I'm not sure it really matters much what brand you get. Like hard disks and floppies, the technology seems to have become pretty standard, without a lot of differences. The difference in speed is very, very marginal. I would say find one in your price range that comes with the software you want, and not worry too much about either brand name or speed.