Nice write-up. I'm also a relatively old hand at MMOs -- started in college with EQ, then played DAoC, tried my hand at FF XI for a couple of months, and played WoW since basically release. I quit WoW about 1.5 years ago, and only really started playing ToR because friends and family would be playing.
I like that the quests draw you in to the story-line. I've been playing as an evil smuggler, however, and all the side-story stuff has started to become a little stale to me. Right now I'm on Alderaan and it just doesn't make sense why I'm getting involved in all these things. Even the lure of credits doesn't really make sense since I'm on the trail of Nok Drayen's treasure. I finally realized last night that this is why I was becoming bored -- if I was playing a good guy I would be more interested in helping out, but instead I just mash the spacebar and pick the meanest dialog options available.
I'm a little torn on the crafting system. I like that you can send your companions off to gather and do missions -- this means I don't have to fly around and manually gather mats. On the other hand, the timers can be a little prohibitive. For example, if I have only an hour to play tonight then I might only be able to send companions out once or twice depending on the missions. You're also pretty limited in what you can do until you get your ship as you generally want to have your first companion with you. Lately I've found myself playing some other game for 30 mins or so, then logging in to check the AH, send companions out, then log out again.
There seems to be a little imbalance as well in the various crew skills. Slicing, at release, was a killer crew skill. I've read accounts on g+ where people took it just for the credits it could generate and, by the time it was nerfed, had already amassed over 500k credits. I have one guy who has armstech and the weapons it creates are just plain underwhelming. I can make lvl 33 weapons, but all the trainer recipes are green. Why would I use any of those when I can go to a commendation vendor and for ~14 tokens buy a pistol that blows away anything I could make? Meanwhile, my bro-in-law's brother sends me nice blue gear a few times a week -- all stuff that he made with armortech, with recipes he learned from the crew skill trainer.
The reverse engineering system is an interesting idea, but not very reliable. I basically only RE stuff I make to get back the materials (gun barrels excepted). Say I RE a pistol and get a new recipe -- the blue schematic will have the exact same stats as the green one, except it will have a small added bonus (which is randomly selected when you discover the recipe). My smuggler can make a crappy blue pistol that has a tiny amount of defense on it -- a stat that I will never need.
I dislike a lot of the choices they've made so far with the UI. Maybe it's because I haven't modded mine? I'm pretty accustomed to the rather useful interface for WoW and a handful of mods for tracking cooldowns and abilities (mods which, I understand, are now incorporated in to the base UI for cataclysm?). You're right that the AH interface is pretty awful too. I almost feel like they made some UI choices just to be different from WoW, with no concern over whether it was a step in the proper direction. There are still a handful of places where they messed up very basic things. With one of my companions, every time he appears / is re-summoned, this one skill is toggled to on. All his other skills remember their previous state... but not this one. And it's the skill where he pulls the target to him, so not exactly what you generally want as the default for two ranged characters. At least there's no hunter dead-zone. Another one I noticed is that my "show Sith corruption" option keeps resetting to "on" every time I have to load in to a zone. I'm just confused as to how stuff like this made it past basic QA.