I second the recommendation to give OpenELEC a try. You don't need an SSD/HDD...a good USB stick will work just fine.
As for the android sticks, I have been watching them but I don't see them as a good solution yet. XBMC for android needs work, the existing android OS (ICS or JB) don't lend well to using a remote for navigation, and they don't have hardwired ethernet so you are forced to use wireless. It looks like there are some capable android boxes starting to come out, just need the software.