Thanks everyone. Start with my obvious lack of knowledge then add in the many (often competing) standards, options, different connectors/cables, computers, smart TV's, and everything else and I was overwhelmed. This is how I tied everything together in a very flexible package.
I went with PowerDVD 12 from Cyberlink. Effectively "threw money" at the problem.
I wanted to run my Asus monitor at 1440 and the Samsung TV at 1920 but the resolution and primary monitors would keep changing when I would drag the PowerDVD display from the monitor to the TV (using extended displays rather than clone). It became too much of a hassle changing back to the settings I want so now I am using Clone mode (at 1920 resolution) so everything appears exactly the same on both the computer and TV. When I want to watch a show I turn on the TV, get PowerDVD going, turn on 3D (or 2D to 3D), turn off the monitor and sit back. Shows everything I want and only takes seconds.
One of the reasons I am so adamant about using the computer to display everything is so I have a progress bar that I can click on with the mouse to instantly jump to any spot in the show. You just can't do that using the clumsy, linear VCR type controls that come with a "smart" TV.
I am just beginning to explore the extra capabilities that the CyberLink package give me vs being forced into the highly restrictive menu system of a TV, even if it is "smart". I mean really, who is going to watch YouTube or surf the web on a TV? With my setup it's a snap.
I wanted a flexible USB storage system, and to be able to access the storage device with both the computer (to add/delete items) and the TV. Both are located right next to each other so doing this over a distance was not a consideration.
USB ports are always hidden away on the back of both the computer and TV and I did not want the hassle of frequently reaching around, in dark areas, fumbling with connectors trying to get them aligned and inserted whenever I wanted to add a movie.
This actually turned out to be the easiest problem to solve. I got an A/B USB switch to tie the TV and computer together and a powered hard drive enclosure, slapped a 2 TB hard drive in, partition, format, ready.
With one press of the A/B switch the drive can be accessed by either the TV or the computer. Since USB is hot swap friendly neither the computer or TV are bothered by the USB drive showing up or going away "on the fly".
The kids (and dad) can easily switch the USB drive to TV access without needing access to the computer. If you are familiar with the horrid (and slow) menu system of a smart TV trying to drill down to a network shared drive you will appreciate the simplicity and quickness of simply choosing a USB drive over a computer share.
When the USB drive is connected to the computer your entire library or music/movies/TV shows are available to everyone on your home network.
You might also appreciate that this setup is completely portable for LAN parties or family reunions (huge collection of children movies and cartoons).
3D TV $1500 (no 3D removes $1000)
Blue Ray burner for computer $ 60
A/B USB switch $ 20
USB Hard Drive enclosure $ 28
SATA 3 hard drive $ 109
Cyberlink software $ 65
And a computer. Any older desktop system will most likely be adequate.