I am using a Compaq Presario C712 with Windows Home Edition Premium with all current updates. I have a Sony Optiarc AD-7560A DVD RW burner that came installed on the laptop. Recently the burner is freezing. It will begin playing a DVD and after a while it freezes. If I lightly tap the top of the laptop it will start and stop for each tap. Also, when burning a DVD it appears to reach a certain point and then just stop, sometimes giving an error message. I am able to burn only about 3/4 what should be able to be burned (3.5 GB rather than 4.38). This problem occurs no matter if I switch to a different DVD and it doesn't matter what burning or playing software I use.
I suspect the burner is breaking down and needs replacing. Does anyone think it could be something else?
Looking around I've found there are exact replacements (AD-7560A) but there are also some others. Can I use a Optiarc AD-7563A or Optiarc AD-7581A instead without any modifications to the laptop? These have lightscribe which I'd like to get. Also, would I need new firmware or drivers for these?
I agree with your diagnosis. The current optical drive is kaput.
You can use other models and you likely don't need any additional drivers or firmware (beyond loading the Lightscribe software). You may, however, have to remove the bezel on your old optical drive and attach it to your new optical drive to get it to fit well with your current notebook's case shape.