Originally Posted by systemlayers
In my case I built my own full fledged windows 7 based HTPC. Benefits?
Quicker Access: I rip my dvds/blu-rays without the advertisements or warnings so it goes straight to the movie by default. It's also quicker access because all I have to do is power the computer up from sleep 5-10 seconds, xbmc opens automatically and within a few clicks I have my movie.
No noise during quiet scenes: Without the optical drive or fan of a blu-ray player I have no noise to distract me. My ps3 used to bug the hell out of me, it's way too noisy.
It also just looks really cool and you can sort movies by time, genre, etc.
Downsides would be cost and time. I went as far as a dedicated server and xbmc units connected to all the tvs. That cost a fair bit (20TB server) and a fair bit of time, but for me it's worth it. The other potential downside is quality if you're not ripping the full BDs/DVDs. Personally I got the remux route (very easy to do with blu-ray using MAKEMKV) and rip full dvds to save a bit of space blu-ray side. If I really want the extras then I pop in the blu-ray into the blu-ray player.
Of course with a dedicated pc you also get all the benefits of a pc... I browse/play games alongside just watching movies on my unit.
AN alternative to spending this much money would be to use your existing desktop computer if you have the space and you leave it turned on all the time.
You can always expand hard drive space or buy a dedicated NAS once you start to build your collection.
You can buy a Rasberry Pi (A little computer with HDMI) all you need is an 8GB SD Card, no need to install software on your PC, or transfer movies to the Pi. All you need to do is setup a folder you store your movies in to share across your network (take 2-3 clicks in windows 7) and point the raspberry pi to it..
Best of all no need for keyboard, mouse or buying a media center remote... It supports CNC or whatever its called, you can use your TV remote to control the Raspberry Pi
Raspberry Pi ~40 bucks, plus SD card and a Micro USB cable if you don't have one and boom, so long as you have movies on your computer and a network share for them.. no need to isntall or configure much of anything..
RaspBMC is super easy to setup.. and will grab all the movie meta data automaticly as well as fan art. Supports full 1080p playback with .mkvs and many other sources.. I have direct 40+ GB blu ray rips that play without a problem.. Supports DTS/Dolby True HD passthrough etc.. no need to trans code video (I Hate transcoding with a passion, no need for it these days)
If you don't want to network share, you can buy an external hard drive(s) and hook them up through USB as well to the Raspberry Pi..
Its the size of a credit card..
If you network share the only real thing you need is a Gig capeable router/switch and direct wire.. streaming a 20MBPS .MKV blu ray video rip doesn't always work the greatest over wireless
Hell even if you had a spare PC that has the hardware to stream 1080P movies, throw XBMC on that and add hard drives.