Is it worth the prerequisite runtime installation of the .NET Framework 3.0? I think so. It was mistakenly "released" earlier this week, but only for @nytimes.com and @microsoft.com users. Today it's available to everyone.
The look and feel is very nice. The initial sync of content is a smidge slow, but it can be schedule and run in the tray. The NYTimes Reader can be run with just the arrow keys and page-up/down keys and includes the new scaling and text-flow techniques introduced by WPF which means it looks good on the largest or smallest of screens.
The same page appears in the left screenshot resized very small and to the right maximized. Notice the number of columns changes and the image adjusts to an appropriate position.
You can register (free) and download the NYTimes Reader yourself and enjoy. It's a great example of what WPF can do without being garish. It's a clean and elegant and ultimately newspaper-like experience, and it has full-screen mode - always a plus.
The only think that could have made it a nicer experience would have been support for ClickOnce, but they apparently wanted their installer to warn the user about the need for the .NET Framework 3.0 and walk them through it, which I understand.
You might think, why download an app like this that only gets Times content? Well, there's a crapload of content and it just about justifies an app...you get the whole paper. But for me, this app is a harbinger of what the first awesome WPF RSS Reader should look like. If this is what FeedDemon could do for my feeds (Nick, are you listening?) that would be utterly wonderful.
This app has just the right design, font style, font anti-aliasing and font scaling, to make reading a newspaper on your an enjoyable tasks. Go get it.
UPDATE: I just realized that this feels a lot like PointCast. I bet some of these young Web 2.0 kids don't remember PointCast and we'll see history repeat itself, this time with WPF and RSS.