Well, I like it
I think the redesign is nice and serves its intended purpose. I find the stories easier to follow throughout the day, in a logical manner (I still don't get the old sorting order whereas stories seemed to jump around randomly). Regarding the fixed-width, I do tend to disagree with its usage, given that it wastes space on large screens. That said, I am not particularly annoyed with its implementation on El Reg; I find it rather comforting, in the way it forces the site's organization and cohesion.
I still don't see any ads (must by my AdBlock and NoScript at work--attaboy!). Perhaps that in itself enhances--artificially--my perception of the layout. As I said before, I reject and oppose all ads in principle: I refuse to be subjected to them in any medium, to the extent that I can prevent it. But, as I also have said before, I will be more than willing to pay a reasonable subscription fee to gain access to the site, provided it does not bring with it additional navigation surveillance, or such common intrusions. I generally enjoy The Register and understand and respect the staff's need to eat (and occasionally drink beer). And I am most definitely not a "freetard".
As for the comment icons: Bleh. I never used them, and tend to ignore them when others do. I find it too Web 2.0-ish and social-networky for my taste. Thus, I don't care for them either way. But, of course, that won't stop me from criticising them: The old ones were too crude and cheesy; the new ones are too cute and cartoony.
Overall, I like the new look and hope the content continues the old tone and spirit of "biting the hand that feeds IT."