So I picked up the Bay Trail NUC from PC Connection. Pricing was basically suggested retail, plus I paid sales tax and 2 days expedited shipping.
Also picked up 8gb or RAM. I repurposed a 1TB 2.5 inch sata drive from a Seagate portable drive and also used an extra Windows 8 license that I picked up dirt cheap from Microsoft last year during the intro period.
I am not sure that 8gb was really called for given my intended uses, and based on observing reported program data from XBMC Frodo I am using less than 2gb of memory for HD material playback. By the way, I am new to XBMC but could not get the performance I wanted with some less common blu-ray codecs (such as those used on Kubrick's 2001 and Clockwork Orange).
I have not tried the infrared remote yet, or the wifi, or the bluetooth. But once I installed the Intel updates, the video, audio and ethernet have all worked just fine. The packaging implies a bios update should be installed, but it turns out that the bios the unit shipped with is the same on the Intel download site.
I am new to PC installation from a USB stick, but there are utilities that format the Microsoft ISO files onto FAT32 and that worked just fine. I had originally thought I could transfer an operating system with apps from a notebook, run the Windows 8 repair utilities, than put in the Windows 8 activation code but a number of errors (including messages about a locked hard drive) kept popping up. So I eventuallly. went with a clean install. In retrospect, I thik 4gb and a 128gb SSD would be good choices for this machine.
Installation was easy. The only trick was after the memory is put in, an internal connector (probably supplies internal power) needs to be attached. There is a picture of the procedure in the included easy installation mini-manual. Installing the hard drive was super easy. The only hard part of the installation was installing Windows 8, then upgrading to 8.1 and getting various software packages to load. I was impressed that even during the initial installation process the unit recognized my Logitech 400 usb wireless keyboard (with built in track pad).
So a few overall comments. I am using the machine as a HTPC, and have no opinions on the units suitability for gaming or for running Linux.
As a HTPC, I think that once it is set up it should be fine. However, I would suggest use of a paid application like Arcsoft TMT. I tried to get MPC-HC and VLC to work with a variety of media files. Some worked well with the usual add in suspects, but not all codecs played nicely.
So you can get a very small HTPC going for a reasonable sum. $140 for the unit itself; $40 or so for 4gb of memory, $60 to $100 for a hard drive or SSD, and a Windows 7 or 8 license. Or maybe Linux if you know what you are doing. Not a killer graphics chip, but with the appropriate software seems to do the job.