I'm confused. Can't say much more than that!

I was all set to get AppleTV until I found out that I would need to convert all my video media into the right format for iTunes to be able to play it.

Then I found out about adding XBMC to the ATV and it would solve all my problems.

I experimented with XBMC on my MacBook and I love it - so fluid and straight forward to use. But, I found that streaming HD content from a USB drive shared via Airport Extreme was sluggish with a large amount of buffering going on. Another downside is that using the Apple Remote (if I were to buy one) is not 100% effective (due to Front Row application being the default for it). The issue with streaming would then cause problems with ATV as it would be working in the same way.

So, I now had my usb drive connected to my MacBook which links to my TV via mini-DVI to VGA and to my home theatre system via digital optical. Runs well, but if the wife is watching something that I'm not keen to watch, I have no internet to amuse myself with as the MacBook is hooked up to the TV. An iPod Touch could be good here as I could then control the laptop with XBMC remote application, and I can google away when I am not watching whatever is playing. But, an iPT is a more expensive solution than I am looking for, and I have my sights on an iPhone next year when my existing phone contract expires.

While seeking alternatives, I found WD TV, which fits all the requirements. HDMI to the TV and digital optical to home theatre. But, from reviews I read, it does not support HFS (journalled) format. I would therefore need to move everything off my existing USB drives, reformat them without journalling, and copy it all back. Not something I fancy doing.

So, last night I found out about Popcorn Hour, how it can work with a plug in USB and how you can also fit another drive into it. Again, it has HDMI to the TV and digital optical to home theatre, but the GUI isn't as impressive as XBMC.

Anyone got any advice on how to proceed - suggestions most welcome - its driving me round the bend

Until I am sure, I am going to stick with the MacBook and put up with the soaps that the wife wants to watch