06-16-2010, 09:54 AM
I've been using a late 2006 Mac Mini as an HTPC and never looked back. If you have an iPhone or iPod Touch, there are remote apps you can use in lieu of the Apple remote, which is tiny and easy to lose or break.
ITunes, Hulu, Netflix, which users Microsoft's Silverlight of all things, YouTube, and any site with a video stream work great. The World Cup stream from ESPN3 isn't sharp, but I'm not paying for cable.
The downside is to record off air HD, the older Minis aren't powerful enough, mine cannot even stream HD (also due to bad reception so I watch off air HD directly and toggle to the Mini during commercials), but the new ones should be able to, assuming you have good reception and a good antenna.
My viewing habits have totally changed - appointment TV is gone except for major sports events and barely any more commercials as you can have multiple streams going and many video podcasts don't contain commercials. Instead of thinking of the time and what to watch, you think of what you want to watch and bring it up. A regular old TV just seems so limiting now.