I went to the LBS today. My first visit ever. The salesman, who is also a trained fitter, and I discussed what I wanted the bike for as well as a few bikes that I thought would fill the bill for me (Specialized Hardrock, Trek 820 and 3700). He pretty much dismissed those and steered me to the 4300 with V-brakes. From what I read on here, it has all the features I want and need. I'm 6'4" and 300 pounds, BTW. And he said he's put 350 lb riders on them. The only thing that ever broke was a tall chainwheel. So, I kinda got the impression that he's blowing a little smoke, but I wasn't put off. He's got a family to feed. Trek has a deal going right now where I can get the bike for $500. I rode a 21" frame and felt cramped, even after the seat was slid back. Honestly, I think I'd be better on a 22.5. Salesman thinks I could go either way.
So does the 4300 for $500 sound like a good first bike for a guy my size? $500 is my budget, FWIW.
I also went to the next closest LBS to check out the Giant lineup and didn't get any help at all compared the the shop mentioned above.