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Plextor has always had a solid product, and backs their drives with a strong exchange program--they almost always come highly recommended. Unfortunately, they often come at a slightly higher price tag--but you are getting what you pay for.
The Lite-On's have been solid value-line performers. They have had the occasional bad batch or two (as can be expected with a lower end unit), but they will usually exhibit problems before the warranty gives out. Typically with a Lite-On, you get a drive that either lasts for a couple months or a couple years. So far, I've gone through 2 readers and 2 burners in 6 years--all Lite-Ons. The only reason for replacement was wear and tear. I do alot of burning, so now I have 3 optical drives, each with it's own purpose (1 combo reader(LGE/Hitachi), 1 CD burner (Lite-On/Mitsumi), and 1 DVD Burner(Pioneer/Matsushita)). If you're strapped for cash, the Lite-Ons are a good alternative to consider--but buy them locally so you can exchange it within 30 days if it's a bugged up unit. I only had a problem with my first burner, but they had a firmware update released almost as soon as it hit the shelf that fixed it.
One thing that makes me hesitant about the Plextor though is that it is only +R--you would probably be better served with a Sony or other that also offers -R support. There are a good bit of v7's out there that aren't too happy with +R discs, so you could shoot yourself in the foot by buying a drive that may not make reliable backups.
The Pioneer and Cendynes are frequently offered with rebates that put the end cost well below the price range you are looking for, and they are VERY reliable. The 105/A05 series drives do currently have some media recognition issues, but they will be addressed by firmware updates if possible. An A04/104 drive however is SOLID, and can be grabbed at regular retail for $200 in a lot of places. The only drawback is it can only burn up to 2X, and will need a firmware update if you have 4X media. 2X/1X DVD-R can be found pretty cheap online in lots of 25 or more (cheaper than +R), but both formats are either the same or +R may be cheaper in smaller quantities at local retailers--another issue to consider if you expect to be burning alot. In the long run, -R capable drives can cost you considerably less to use (can get the media for less if bought in bulk online), and you will not be sacrificing quality or reliability. In fact, you may be insuring more reliability with your PS2.
Whatever you decide, make sure to familiarize yourself with the tutorials posted for the specific program and media you will be using. It's a good idea to print them out or at least download them so you can have them at hand while getting started. Alot of the problems that come up stem from something not being set properly in the imaging or burning process--so follow the recommendations closely and everything should work fine. If everything is done right, then the drive firmware or the media is usually suspect, so make sure you have access to updates or other media choices to try. Many online retailers are offering sample variety packs, which is a good way to find a reliable media choice without forking out a ton of $$ doing trial and error.
If your PS2 or set-top DVD player is fairly new, you should invest in a couple quality RW DVD's to run a couple test burns on your first attempts with backups. TDK and Verbatim are good mid-price RW's--Memorex is flakier, and aren't that much of a bargain. RW DVD's don't always work in a PS2, but usually will in standalone players. Using the "Quick Erase" will sometimes cause them to fail in players/PS2's, so a full erase is best if you start using them a lot. Even if they don't work in your PS2, this will at least give you the option of sampling your movies before making a final burn to permanent media. Nothing like creating a handful of designer coasters upwards of $1.00 a pop!