What your storing is going to determine what you use more than anything. The bins give you a decent amount of leway when it comes to sizes of things as there are different size bins, things can stick out the top a bit, etc. Like you I think the whole deal of them hanging on the wall is a bit cheesy looking too. That being the case, I've got a couple of shelves setup such that the bins slide in on the shelf. This gives me the ability to put stuff in a bin, or if it won't fit, to remove a bin and put it on the shelf itself.
Now if your storing things like bolts, etc the best thing will be some actual metal bolt bins. Being metal the dividers, etc all take up less space than using even 1/8 plywood as dividers. As a result you wind up with more actual storage space for a given dimension with the metal bins than the wood.
If your looking for something in the way of drawers, things like old card catalogs from a library, etc can be repurposed for that. I've had several Uncles that did that in years past, and my Dad actually has a couple of sections in his shop that were origionally used for that purpose. They work pretty good, and depending on what you get, there are some out there with dfferent sized drawers in them.
If the objects are really small, like screws, electrical connectors, tube fittings, cotter pins, etc, etc, then nothing beats a few of the units with the divided, slide out drawers.
Beyond that, anything that will hole what your looking to store, do it in the space available, and is to your liking is fair game. In the end it's all about making space and convenience, and if you can accomplish both, regardless of what you use, then all is good.