Originally Posted by six_storm
Ha! Nice post. Seriously though, here's what I've been looking at:
1) I could use my PC to set up a Linux based HTPC and also having it to be a storage server as well. All I would have to purchase would be a nicer HTPC case, remote, IR receiver, and a new DVD-ROM drive. This would probably cost around $150-$250 depending on what I buy.
2) I could purchase a package from PCAlchemy.com that includes a copy of Windows MCE 05, Windows MCE remote, Hauppage PVR-150 and NVIDIA's Decoding software for about $225. Also along with a new, more attractive HTPC case, it would be about $350 after shipping and everything.
3) I could buy an Apple TV for $300, which is a nice and SMALL device in which you could do all kinds of stuff with (install a full version of OSX, add a bigger HDD, create a emulator for SNES, NES, etc) and doesn't take up that much space. Just like most Apple products, it's attractive. Also, I could buy an Elgato EyeTV Hybrid, a USB stick device that inputs SD and HD cable and OTA channels. Again, all of this takes up little to nothing on space, whereas the other two options would take a decently big HTPC case. Total = $450
I already have some my movies ripped onto my iMac and iBook so it will be convient either way, Macs work with anything. And I know that you can mix and match on the features too. I'd like to get the Linux based solution to work but my PC is rejecting it and I don't have a lot of time to dabble in it right now. Maybe once I can get past finals, I'll have some time.
Hmm, what do you currently have now for a PC? Is it your gaming PC?
A lot of what I would do depends upon what your setup is. If you are just going to be using it as a gaming / media computer hooked to a monitor, I would just leave it with xp and not even worry about MCE. If you want to have a dedicated HTPC that sits with your tv, then I would probably look at getting the stand alone unit. The biggest thing is that if you want to either rip or encode, you'll want a lot of CPU power to do that with.
Either way, if your going to be spending money a hard drive should be first on the list. With direct rips you could only get about 15 movies onto that hard drive, with no room left over for anything else. That might also influence your decision as well.
@einstein_314: If you want to re-encode those vids, a great program is autoGK. It is a simplified version of an all in one solution to re-encode movies.
What goodies does MCE have? I can't use it because it doesn't support my current tuner, but I'm curious if it is even that much nicer than simply using regular xp.