DVD is NOT a critical subsystem for my purposes. So, what's a good, reliable combination of internal DVD drive and software? Windows 7 (soon to be 8), i7-3770.
Primarily, this will be an input device. Installs of packaged software, play audio CDs (or load them to iTunes), watch an occasional movie (seldom).
Do write DVDs / CDs sometimes. Lots of photos, occasionally collections of Office files we've created. When we do write, we tend to make multiple copies. I've used Nero in the past, and that's okay - probably my default answer unless someone recommends strongly AGAINST it and FOR something else.
Reliability is more important than speed. Don't want to have to replace it every 3 months..
If someone could make a recommendation, I'll appreciate it. Or, point me where I can read trustworthy reviews.
I've frequently used Samsung, Asus, Liteon, and Sony drives. I can't remember ever having a problem with an optical drive regardless of brand. At least not when they were new. Sure after 5 years of use and dust buildup you can expect it to fail but luckily they only cost $16.
There's not much difference between different makes/models in this area: DVD-ROM drives are as interchangeable as anything in a PC. You're really splitting hairs to worry about the reliability of different brands of DVD drive -- in general they're all the same thing.
I wouldn't worry too much about early failure unless the drive is used VERY frequently, but if you're so concerned take a look over the customer reviews from (e.g., Newegg) before purchase.