A few disjointed points:
Is anyone not happy with the armor levels? It seems so vague, being recommended levels rather than absolute.
I personally like having armor for a specific level.
I think this combined with not having an AH, really depreciates my motivation for grinding.
I'm not a total gear snob, but its nice to look forward to that level 7 piece at the AH. Or be like, "Oooh I can't wait for that helmet." And you know it exists because you can look up helmets in the AH! AND you know that your stats will always be what they are on the equipment screen.
I'm still wearing the same stuff at level 10 except for some pants I found in a chest.
By this time in FFXI I had 2 or 3 sets of armor and a Warriors Belt.
And in this case its not so much being the 'best' as it is just a want for some change in appearance.
When guildleves are up, and you don't want to craft, grinding really is the only form of progression.
Now I know this could be because the game is new/and that people are starting to make and sell, but it really seems as though SE wants us to craft our own stuff and/or barter for everything. That's OK, as crafting is a lot more tolerable this time around, however, right now, I just want to level PUG, and the lack of gear (or trouble finding it) really puts a damper on that 'drive.'
Now that the game is out I think this is just one of the many repercussions we will start seeing with the lack of an AH.
The Armor Level thing I can live with, but I really think it should be a dynamic system (and maybe it is) that shows what the stats are relative to your level. Or have the optimal stats be grayed out, or something.