Like many other reviewers, I, too, had bought the previous version of this shelf unit. For the most part, they are built the same with a few improvements made; at least from what I remember when I built my original units. However, there are two major gripes that I do have with it, more on that later. This is a great unit and durable when adequate care is taken during the assembly process. I'd give it a 4.5 if it weren't for the 2 issues.
• The instructions are clear and easy to follow. There are pictures as well as written-out instructions, unlike IKEA.
• You really only need a screwdriver and hammer.
• The small parts (screws, pegs, nails, etc.) are separated and identified well in a blister-type pack.
• The backing of the unit is much improved from the previous version. To me, it seems just a bit thicker and more durable than the older version. I can't quite remember if they had these or not, but the current version has pilot holes for the small nails that you need to hammer into the frame. This saves a lot of guess work and you can center the backing a lot easier. It also has a tongue and groove type seam between the top and bottom halves that you nail down. This is an improvement from the older version that just joined flat next to each other and had to be taped together.
• The wall mount/anchor is standard. Comes with metal L-brackets mount, screws and plastic drywall anchors. However, unlike the original version, they've added pilots holes for the screws that go into the top of the unit. Again, only needing a screwdriver. I remember struggling when I had to anchor the first two units I bought.
• The design is simple and contemporary with a strong dark brown, almost black finish.
• The screws that secure the base to rest of the frame do not screw in flush with the wood. There will be little nubs sticking out at the bottom of your unit. This can cause instability issues and may mess up your floors when staging or moving the unit.
• My biggest disappointment with these are that the shelves are not flush with the frame. Unlike the previous version, these shelves are slightly receded. When you first install them, they seem pretty flimsy and easy to unbalance/tip over. Once items are placed on them, the weight keeps it pretty steady. However, this leaves you with less surface area to work with if you have unusually sized media or wanted to add little tchotchkes/trinkets where, again, balance may become an issue.
• There aren't many parts to this assembly. I'd recommend laying everything out in the order they need to be assembled. This will help you better visualize the bigger picture of how everything will fit together. Do not rush through the steps as you don't want to mess up the placement or over tighten anything.
• Personally, the holes that hold the wooden dowels/pegs seemed too big and the pegs moved around too much for my liking. I added just a dab of wood glue in each hole to help with the overall sturdiness. Add when you first put them into the I-piece and J-piece. Then again on the opposite sides when joining with the vertical frames (A-H-pieces / jambs?),
• Lastly, the much talked about and "dreaded" step of adding the backing. The base of the unit has a lip the protrudes out from the rest of the frame. The instructions tell you to place the unit face down and just hammer the back down. The unevenness causes too much strain on the screws securing the base to the rest of the unit and may crack.
Here is the very simple workaround I used for this:
1. Very carefully flip the unit face down.
2. Place 9 of the mini shelves under each corner at the top of the unit and another 9 shelves in the center along one of the sides of the unit (under the I/J-piece - I forget which is the center plank) where the top and bottom halves are held together. Each stack should roughly equate to the height of the lip at the base and will now give you a balanced and steady work area to nail down the backing. To protect the top surfaces of the shelves, make sure that the bottoms (the side with the divots drilled out for the pegs) are facing out in each of these stacks.
3. Unfold and center the backing pieces as desired, then start hammering down all those little nails. Again, the pilot holes here are such time-savers. I recommend first working on the side that has the extra 9 shelves in the center of the unit. When done, you can slide those out and place them under the opposite side and finish out the hammering.
• As for those pesky protruding screws under the base, I simply used 2 pieces of painter's (masking) tape to cover each one up. This should help it glide a bit better when staging/moving the unit without gouging into your floors. You can add anything you think could help in this area so long as it doesn't add too much thickness.
• When all done, you are now able to gently lift the unit upright and place it where desired.