Zaerc, you make a very valid point. I have no issues dealing directly with VIA as long as they are punctual with new releases. ATI and Nvidia do seem to have this down, but I haven't had to deal with VIA closed drivers before, so I wouldn't know. However, if we have to go through Fiire, which has to go through VIA, in order to get a new release then you can pretty much not do anything non-standard with X or the Kernel... like you would do as a developer... the same developers they claim to support.
We would at the very least need to have the ability to rebuild the driver against various versions of the kernel and X. Yes, both ATI and Nvidia closed drivers can do that (for those who didn't know).
Having said that, the hardware HD playback is a huge plus for this purpose and from what I understand you can not do that on either ATI or Nvidia cards without closed drivers. With this board, you can and do it with open drivers and even better then with an ATI or Nvidia card with the closed drivers. If you choose to use the closed drivers then you will also get the 3d acceleration, but with the added headache of trying to actually get the driver for the kernel/X version you are running.