How does it work?
The player sits next to (or on top of) your Xbox 360. It's slightly awkward - certainly more awkward than the PS3 and its built-in Blu-ray player. On the other hand, it's a space savings compared to the huge stand-alone players that electronics companies like Toshiba are currently selling. Once you get it all plugged in and set up, the drive is simple to use: the Dashboard will have two eject buttons for the two drives, instead of one. Put in a disc and go; it's as simple as using the 360 as a regular DVD player.
So, what's the big deal?
The big deal is the high definition picture. Current DVDs simply don't store enough information to offer a crisp and detailed picture at the resolution of HDTV. The HD DVD (and Sony's Blu-ray) can store a lot more information, and present fantastic picture quality. Once you hook up the HD DVD drive to your Xbox 360 and get going, you'll notice a huge leap in quality - instantly.
Little details, like the glittering lights of Tokyo in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift and the Tibetan mountains in Batman Begins were two places we quickly noticed the leap. The ballroom scene in Phantom of the Opera, with its bizarre costumes and warm lighting, was also incredibly impressive. Of course, if you have a setup capable of intense audio, the HD DVD format supports all of the latest and best formats.