In the US I've just gotten a LVW-5006 (September 2004 production) at Radio Shack in exchange for the same model with a November 2004 production date. I'm not overjoyed by the experiences some folks have had, but then I noticed the worst problems seemed to be faced by folks in the UK and EU.
I may return this 5006 for yet another sealed one made in November. Having opened both up I noticed that the power supply and processor board appeared identical between the two units I had. This includes heat sinks (3), versions, etc. The FLASH chip on the September unit did have an earlier base version from the factory, but it upgraded fine using the same flash file downloaded from Lite-On.
The major difference appears to be the DVD drive model. The November unit had a model DDW-813S drive while the September unit has a DDW-451S. If one of these drives is better, that is probably the unit I would go with. I can't find any detailed specs on the drives from which to make a comparison. The new drive could be better, perhaps using less power or having greater hardware compatibility or it could just be more cheaply made. BTW, I was able to flash both drives, but different flash files were required.
Also has anyone tried putting a small '486 type fan on the larger heatsink on the processor board?
Any knowledge or experience appreciated.