The setup is really simple, has a high WAF and the kids aren't advertised to when they watch kids programs. Added benefit is that it functions like a multi-room DVR too! Stop apple tv playback on the living room tv, and pick up your bookmarked show on the bedroom apple tv...love that.
So Cliff, one potential tradeoff/weakness in your (very nice) setup seems to be handling live sports and watching live tv--do you not let the kids watch it? When your wife is sitting at one of the HDTVs, how is she getting live TV there if she wants it? Are you Airplay streaming to the aTVs from the iMac or iPad or is she OK knowing that if she wants to channel surf "live" she has to do it via the iMac? Do you have one of your HDTVs connected to your iMac as an external display?
Can I assume all your aTVs are wired--mine are and they are great, reliable devices when wired.
Do you allow your iMac to sleep and can all your aTVs wake the iMac when needed for iTunes home sharing?
How does your system handle what I suspect might be a typical evening scenario in your house:
1. You and your wife are at one HDTV, watching a recorded TV show in HD from the night before that EyeTV has already dumped in iTunes;
2. You are also currently recording programs throughout the night at the same time, and when they're finished EyeTV automatically starts to transcode all of them for iTunes...in order to transcode those shows EyeTV grabs all the remaining CPU;
3. One of your kids wants to watch something else from the iTunes library at one of the other aTVs.
So, watching two separate (presumably 720p) video streams, while 1 or 2 shows are being recorded each hour all night with EyeTV automatically kicking in transcoding those shows--how seamlessly does your iMac handle all that? No hiccups? Where is your iTunes library...the iMac internal drive, an external, a network drive? Are you booting from, serving from, writing to and reading from the same drive (or cluster of drives) for all this?
Are you manually deleting all the original EyeTV recordings after they've been transcoded and added to iTunes or have you figured out a way to automate that?
We grab that content with Apple TVs velcro'd to the backs of our HDTV sets (3 of them) in the house.
How are you controlling the aTVs--the little Apple remotes? iOS devices?
Biggest plus of your setup is the WAF and kid accessibility--everything is through the same device, the same video input controlled by the same remote. Kudos to you for making it work and I suspect a lot of people will be attracted to it.
I ask because, while my whole house setup is different from yours and more complicated--we don't have kids, I rely heavily on XBMC because I want to play blurays back at full size, we have Macs and
aTVs at every HDTV and I never
ask EyeTV to transcode recordings for iTunes--the one aspect that I think we have in common is we rarely if ever watch live TV. I even have a Mac with EyeTV at every HDTV and never watch live TV, except for the odd weekend NFL game or two. Thinking about the OP's query about live TV that's the one thing about Macs and aTVs as HTPC and whole house media devices that I think he'll discover "front ends" like Plex and XBMC still don't integrate with or handle well enough.
The way I've adapted my behavior is to de-value live TV, since I otherwise like XBMC and it does a good job as a front end managing our house full of TV recordings and ripped dvds and blurays I just don't try to leave XBMC in order to go to EyeTV to watch anything live. Back when I last used Plex, which admittedly has been a few years now, switching out of Plex and "into" EyeTV and then back to Plex was always awkward and frequently crashed, iOS remote apps were not seamless, and there were always similar hiccups trying to stream Netflix from "within" a front end, whether it be Front Row or Plex or whatever.
Is there not a Windows Media Center-like equivalent for the Mac?
DAMAC, short answer, no, this is where you're likely going to be a little disappointed. It's probably a fool's errand trying to set up a similar interface on both the aTV and Mini that can each "do" everything, so it is seamless to switch between the two. It might be better to ask each of them to do what they do well...for instance, I find Netflix streaming a much better user experience on the aTV and iPad than it is on the Mini, so we don't do NF via the Mini that often (in our setup we do "American" Netflix streaming via the aTVs and iOS devices but "British" Netflix streaming via the Mini.)
Does anybody use the EyeTV parser through XBMC on an jailbroken Apple TV?
I do, DAMAC, it's adequate enough...so, too, are their Amazon Prime and Hulu streaming plugins. I have a hacked aTV1 in a bedroom with Crystalbuntu and XBMC and I rely on a 2011 Mini in our main living room running XBMC to play back all of our EyeTV recordings as is. I don't play EyeTV live and don't playback any EyeTV recording with EyeTV itself, that's because it is a terribly bloated, inefficient and poorly supported video player. I usually don't transcode any EyeTV recording for iTunes nor do I "prepare" any EyeTV recording for viewing on iOS devices--we just use Air Video live transcoding if we want to watch anything on our iPads.
So, what that boils down to for us is 1) we're in XBMC on a Mini most of the time controlled by the Apple remote, 2) switch to an Apple TV for Netflix streaming or when we might want to Airplay something that's only on our iPads and 3) can do iTunes music and iTunes home sharing via the Mini or aTV, whichever happens to be more convenient at the time, usually controlled by an iPad.