Well, given all this trouble, time to start collecting sites that seem to know what is wrong:
* DVD Recordable :: DVD writing reviews news and advice
* "Firmware Flash Forum":http://forum.firmware-flash.com. Good site with information about lots of hardware that needs to get flashed. That seems like it is a big problem with these DVD Writers, the firmware is buggy.
* "Under 4.7GB Films":http://www.dvd-recordable.net/modules.php?op=modload&name=Reviews&file=index&req=showcontent&id=11. Here's a list of films that are under 4.7GB so don't need to be transcoded if you want to backup to a DVD-R.
* "Best 4x DVD Media":http://www.flashman.dsl.pipex.com/DVD_Charts.htm. Flashman did a test of this.