I've read the first 50 pages or so of the new D&D 4 Player's Handbook. I'm going to write about the general feel and layout of the book so far. Most of the rules have been discussed to death in other places.
The introduction is well written and concise, explaining where a role-playing game falls within popular culture and providing a brief history of the game. The authors of each edition are listed in the credits and the book is dedicated to the memory of Gary Gygax. The How Do You Play section is well done, and reminds me of what I read in D&D For Dummies, a surprisingly good book for beginners. There's a helpful blow-by-blow game session described, similar to what I remember in the 1st Edition Dungeon Master's Guide. I still recall such great lines as "I crush the nasty thing with my boot!"
The "Making Characters" section is a step-by-step process, laid out better than previous editions. You can make character backgrounds easily using the question & answer format provided, similar to what we found in the 3.5 Player's Handbook II. Character roles, as reported before, are clearly defined rather than assumed. Players are encouraged to cover each role and new roles, we're told, will be in the Player's Handbook II. This mentioning of future books and other books, such as the Dungeon Master's Guide, is a common theme than runs throughout the book.
Character ability scores are chosen using either a set array, a custom point buy model (with plenty of examples), or rules for random rolling. It's easy enough for a DM to say, use method 1 or 2 (that's what I did). Alignment is cut down to good, evil, lawful good, chaotic evil and unaligned. Players are encouraged not to play evil characters, or risk the wrath of their fellow players. Good advice.
The write up for gods are well done, with some of them unaligned, which was surprising. Many of the gods seem more organic and realistic than in previous editions. Pelor, for example, is the sun god, but is widely worshipped due to his agriculture portfolio. I was able to easily assign the core gods to the real-world Phoenician gods in my home brew campaign.
A character sheet is provided, with numbered lists showing how to fill one out. Very innovative and clever.
The only quibble I have so far is the inclusion of technical terms that are not defined until many chapters later. For example, the dragonborn get a to hit bonus when "bloodied," but bloodied isn't defined for hundreds of pages later. This happens several times, but the alternative of listing everything up front, or starting with combat, might be more confusing.