Well looks like I'm first, and my initial impressions are quite positive:
Load times are FAST. I only owned the Xbox 360 drive before and this player loads much faster. On a couple of the HD-DVDs I threw in, there was hardly any difference between them and standard DVD starting up! Menus, navigation, everything was very simple and easy to use. My ENEMY OF THE GATES also ran flawlessly, and I checked out several other HD discs, all looked great.
The upconverting looks very good as well. I also have the Oppo 981 and IMO the upconversion (which does do 1080p) compares favorably on the few discs I tested -- and there's no macroblocking on my display with the A20 either. (As with all other HD-DVD players, I believe, PAL discs won't play, even Region 0 ones).
Sound is good, but I'm running the optical out (DTS downmix) so I'm probably not the best gauge of its capabilities.
Overall I'm happy, if a bit disappointed with the box having been beaten up (VE's first shipment of these weren't double-boxed), with no glitches or playback errors I can tell so far...but I'll leave it to the experts to compare it with the 1st gen machines, which I didn't use.