I personally like the yamaha 3200E VK, as I own one. I also have a Liteon 24102B,Firmware comes installed on the Flash Rom on the Writer and this can be Updated if new features come out to Improve the Writer,or for more reliablablity.. The best software that you can have is CloneCD 22.214.171.124. Use this to copy games and Full music Cd's ect.It does a 1 to 1 Copy. And for data and every thing else Nero 126.96.36.199. Nero also Supports Audio Master Recording. Which yamaha has.There does not seam to be much difference in CD-RW media. Sometimes the cheap ones do just as good as job as the Expensive ones, at half the cost.But if you have your heart set on a Plextor you would not go wrong either.But in the End it realy comes Down to the best price. They all have there good Points.
I don't know any thing about VCR tape backup, but I would Expect the CD-RW is Quicker any way.