Lots of people are complaining about the new AppleTV and what it didn't bring for features, what they don't like, what they wished it had, etc. Realizing that Apple did their homework first, to try to hit the mass market, many of us “techies” are not necessarily the target demographic. Get over it. Unfortunately they didn't make this for you. Geeks should wait for Boxee.
Apple has one primary goal with AppleTV. Sell content. If you can get a small, easy to hook up box into someones routine, make it non-subscription yet easy to purchase content.. you have a winner. The previous AppleTV had two problems holding it back. First was the cost. $200-$300 for an unproven technology was too much for many people to shell out. Drop that to a magical $99 price point and you have reduced a major barrier. The second issue was the technical side of setup. The syncing, hard drive, etc.. all just a little much for “mass market” ease of use. Make this as easy (or easier) than a DVD player to watch content.. and another barrier is gone.
The final icing on the cake is the price point for content. Nobody will argue (at least rationally) that $5 for a first run HD rental is too much. It'll cost you that much for the pop at the theater to see it. People do that all day. The $0.99 “rental” of TV shows is another win. Seriously, how often do you watch TV shows more than once? If you want to buy a season and stream it to your AppleTV, you are welcome to.. but for somewhere in the range of $20-$25 you can rent an entire season of a show you like. The nice thing is if (and it's a big IF) you can choose to unplug from your cable provider, Dish, DirecTV, etc.. you can probably save a fair amount of money and time over the course of a year. At least for me this would be the case.
Anyway.. I think Apple did it right. Plus, add the ability to stream from your iOS products to AppleTV, ease of packing this thing on vacation if you want to.. it is some extra gravy in the value ladle. I ordered one already and will be quite happy to move my “old” AppleTV to a new location in the house.