Looking to build/buy a (maybe) Linux-based media center. Requirements: HDMI, YPbPr, and (bonus) standard RCA output (not all at once), region-free DVD/Blu-ray playing (physical drive[s?]), some sort of remote control, automatic boot into media center interface, small size (not a tower), and (of course) lots and lots of codecs: Blu-ray rips, H.264 .avi, VIDEO_TS folders, the works. Need to know: cost, upkeep, storage options.
Short version: What's my best standalone media center PC option?
Long version: I'm thinking I'd run XBMC on this beauty, but I'm open to other suggestions. A main selling point for me would be how nice the UI looks (MediaStream
looks gorgeous, but can I choose the posters/fan art that it displays?), but I'd also like minimal lag when going in and out of menus. Not sure if XBMC runs best on Windows or Linux, but I'm more keen on Linux since it's, well, free.
The computer I use for this should ideally be small—I have very little knowledge of the current desktop PC scene since I've only owned a laptop for years and years. What's out there, case/size-wise, nowadays? What sort of processing power would I need to play HD video? Blu-ray?
Storage is also a concern of mine. I currently have a little under 1 TB of TV shows and movies in .avi and .mp4 format, along with ~500 DVDs that I'd like to get copied onto a HDD of some sort. Should I go for internal drives or external drives? How often should I replace the drives in order to avoid failure?
If I could have this on my wireless network, that would be nice as well. Live TV would be nice, of course, but I'd be using it with rabbit ears of some sort if this were the case. Could I record live TV with this? Bonus: Could I integrate the rabbit ears into the case itself, or is this impractical?
This would need to have a remote control; what are my options there?
Thanks so much, and sorry for the length.