I got one for free from Apple. It's a long story, but in short: I am a bartender, and one of the lead developers of the apple tv came in to my place on vacation, and we got to talking, and next thing I knew he was handing me his card and telling me to write him. A few days later a new 160gb apple tv was in my home!
I have to say that honestly I would never have purchased this thing before. However, not that I have one, I would say that if something happened to mine, I would buy a new one to replace it as fast as I could! Like you, I used "front row" with my macbook plugged in to my tv to watch stuff, but apple tv does it so much better. And forget needing a dvd drive, pick up a free copy of handbrake, and rip your movies and send them straight to itunes! Plus, it's great for watching tv shows. I mean, if you do the math, you don't really need cable/direct tv any more! Just pick out your favorite 4 or 5 shows and subscribe to them in iTunes. You'll spend a lot less time trying to "find" something to watch, and you'll save hundreds of dollars by the end of the year. In fact, for the price of direct tv with a DVR, you could instead subscribe to nearly 20 different shows if you absolutely wanted to.
However, I use mine more as a jukebox than anything else. I used to plug my ipod into my stereo, but now with apple tv, I have my entire 100+ GB music collection at the ready, and can listen to it through my stereo and see the album art on the tv. I always have music playing now.
Plus, when friends come over, I can grab the photos off of iPhoto and show them off really quickly as well, which is nice. My in-laws show up randomly, I can pull up the latest roll of their grandson and show him off without getting everyone to huddle around a computer.
So that's my attempted sales pitch for the apple tv! Happy hunting!