I'm having trouble with the pros and cons of building an HTPC or a new Media Server or maybe even both. A little background:
Back when Vista came out, my main machine (which I leave on 24/7) acted as a media server that I streamed to my TV via Xbox 360 and MyMovies. I had an HP MediaSmart Server (WHS v1) with 2x 1.5TB WD Green drives in it and the OS drive that I used to back up that main machine with (and my laptop.) My HP kicked the bucket, sadly, and I moved to backing up via Windows Backup to a 3TB external hard drive. Later on I built a new machine and moved over to Windows 7 and never revisited the whole HTPC issue because I wound up just watching my movies on my main PC instead of streaming them to the TV via the Xbox.
Now I'm looking to kind of move back towards how I used to have it set up, and start streaming to the TV again. As it stands right now, I can use my main rig as a media server like I used to, and I still back up everything to the external drive. My problem is that in this new rig, I have a 256GB Crucial M4 SSD for the OS and one Hitachi 2TB drive for storage and find myself running low on space for my collection of movies. I could just throw another 3TB drive in and call it a day, but I hate having more than one logical drive. I guess something like FlexRAID would fix that, but I would also have the problem of being able to back up the additional storage, as that would put me at about 3.5TB or so.
Other things to note:
I only have one TV in the house with an Xbox 360, a Wii, and an SA 8300HD set top box attached to it with DVR service from my cable provider. I was also thinking of adding a PS3 to it, possibly for bluray.
I want the ability to have full 1080/24p playback on the TV.
I have DVR service, so the ability to record isn't strictly necessary, but I would like to have that ability as well.
I don't have a surround system hooked up to the TV. I keep telling myself I'm going to buy a sweet Denon 7.2 receiver, but I just don't have the cash for it. However, not having the cash has not stopped my addiction to building computers. I'm an IT guy by trade, so I guess it's just in my blood.
I guess the reason I would like to even have an HTPC at all is because I don't want to be bothered with taking out a DVD/bluray every time I wanted to watch a movie. I'd rather have one interface where I can just browse and/or search through my collection, load it up, and enjoy. That and if I do wind up getting a nice sound system down the line, I could also throw all my music on it and listen to it through that (though the girlfriend may not appreciate me taking over the living room just to listen to my music when I have my office and my music on my main rig, haha)
So I guess the major questions are:
Is an HTPC right for me?
How can I deal with my storage issues without using a RAID solution (I really hate consumer RAID and have been burned in the past, though if I want one logical drive, I guess there aren't many ways around it)?
Is it possible to find a solution that is a) not going to break the bank and even more importantly b) be low on power consumption? I live in NY and LIPA (the power company) really rakes you over the coals on electric bills every month.
I guess that's it. Enough of my rambling. Hopefully you guys can offer some advice. I've been a member of this site for a long time and a lurker for years and I've always found it to be a great source of information for anything A/V related. Oh, and the new search/board software sucks, by the way. I did try and search around for a solution but didn't have much luck with it.
Anyway, thank you all in advance.