The actual hardware appears sound, and is working just fine. However, there's a few things potential buyers should be aware of first:
This item is from a bulk seller. That means it comes with nothing but the drive itself. No instructions, no cables, no drivers, no reference documention, no warranty information. I purchased this item to replace a dying DVD-ROM drive on my grandmother's PC. Of course I forgot her PC is running Windows Vista. So what should have taken less than 5 minutes, became a four hour ordeal. Vista would detect the drive, but was unable to find a suitable driver. I jumped on Sony's website, but when I followed the links to download the driver for this item, I was redirected away from Sony's website, to some other company that wanted me to pay for their software program that is basically a "driver minder". It claimed it would automatically keep all of the PC's drivers up to date. Needless to say, I wasn't going to pay for this unnecessary program when all I wanted was a driver for this optical drive.
I searched through several forums, with other people seeming to have encountered the same problem.
In the end, I simply found a suitable driver for a similar optical drive, and fooled Vista into using it for this opitcal drive; which so far has worked just fine.
So my advice: If you're running Vista, you might want to look for a different drive that comes with a bit more support to help you get through the installation process. However, if you're running XP, or Windows 7, you'll probably be alright; and I think this drive will be a good investment, considering the nice low price.
UPDATE, 2 years later: While I can't say whether it's the drive or just Windows Vista, the drive is no longer operational. It's quite possible that it's just Vista being its usual PITA, but none of my old tricks are working and I can't get the drive back into operational status. And like my original post noted, Sony has supplied absolutely no support for this device. And their website still re-routes you to some other company's site that wants you to purchase their driver-minder software, which I find to be the most frustrating part.
Considering all this, I feel it necessary to drop this item from 3 stars to 2 stars.
Again, if you're a Vista user, I'd beware. Otherwise, I think you'll be alright.
I should also mention that the price for this product has shot up sky high. When I purchased it two years ago, it was only $20. I see it is now listed at $50. For fifty bucks, I think you can find better.