Yikes, it's been longer than I thought since I've posted! Needless to say, I've had other stuff going on and haven't played recently. I just caught this article on Dungeon's Master, though, and had to share it: How a Blind Player Improved Our Game. I've noticed that to some extent I tend to describe things in a little more detail when I play The One Ring compared with D&D, and TOR's lack of minis/grid is certainly a contributing factor. One interesting observation involved the mini that I used for my Shaman's spirit companion; despite my briefly mentioning that it was a panther and continually reminding everyone that it was a spirit (and looked the part), everyone basically just called it "my dog" because I was using a wolf mini. Annoying, but when I used the same mini to represent my Druid's Pack Wolf summon, the DM assumed that it was pretty much "the same" (specifically, he never attacked it because he thought it worked like the Shaman's SC and would just come back while I took reduced damage). In this case the mini outright overrode my descriptions in the minds of everyone else at the table (for both characters), which is certainly a problem.
As a player I really enjoy looking at maps (as I like cartography in general), but there's definitely a such thing as relying too heavily on them. They're extremely helpful for communicating the tactical bits of 4E, but I tend to use them as just that. My maps are very simple, and I'm just as likely to write down a symbol or written abbreviation to represent a terrain feature as I am to draw it out in (relative) detail. In short, from my point of view as a DM the map is meant to supplement descriptions, but I'm not sure my players always get this message. Or perhaps it's just easier to relate to what's in front of them on the table.
Anyways, there's ultimately no "right way" to describe (or interpret) the scene in an RPG, but I think this article is definitely some interesting food for thought.