I got an Xbox 360 HD DVD Player this weekend.
The external drive plugs into a USB port. Initially, I was not excited about a console with two drives. However, now I like the idea.
One of my main gripes about the 360 is how loud the DVD drive is. You better crank up the volume if you don't want to be distracted by the DVD drive. The HD DVD is quiet. I never noticed it, even during low volume scenes.
Another nice benefit of two drives: I can leave my games in the 360 while changing out movies in the HD DVD tray and vice versa. It means less trips to the console if you want to play some "Gears of War" in between episodes of "24", like I'm doing now.
The HD DVD disk themselves feel much more sturdy than a standard DVD. I read a while back that HD DVD would have a special "scratch-proof" coating. It is really hard to gauge if it is working at this point. But if it does, it certainly will make renting HD DVD a more pleasant experience than renting DVD's.
Speaking of renting, Netflix has both a HD DVD & Blu-ray "genre." You can setup Netflix to send you HD DVD or Blu-ray if they are available. I loaded up my rental queue with 50 HD DVD's. There is no extra cost to rent HD DVD or Blu-ray.
The video quality is excellent. I didn't see any video issues whatsoever. In fact, I could watch the movie from just 1 foot away on my 46" TV and *NOT* see any compression artifacts! Even the best OTA HD broadcast has compression artifacts that are easy to see from that distance. I could see the film grain ("Happy Gilmore"), but that is an issue with the source material, and not the HD DVD drive. From 9 feet away, the film grain was not noticeable. I didn't see any film grain issues with "King Kong."
Sound was the same as a standard DVD as far as I could tell...which is really good.
DVD's still look good on my set, but HD DVD looks even better...mainly sharper and better color output.
HD DVD has the ability to keep running the movie while interactive menus play on top of the film. It is useful for changing the audio track or jumping to a particular scene. Certainly not ground breaking, but DVD's can't do this. On a DVD, every time you select a different menu, the audio/video for the current menu abruptly stop and start on the new menu. With HD DVD, the transitions are flawless...it just makes the disk feel more polished.
HD DVD does not pause midway through a movie like a DVD does when going to the second layer of a dual layer disk. That pause was more annoying than anything, but I'm glad it's gone.
If you have a 360 and an HDTV, this is a no brainer...get this drive!