Originally Posted by mdavej
IMO an HTPC is major overkill for that kind of thing. A streaming disc player, roku or WDTV is far cheaper and easier. Pretty much the only reasons I use an HTPC are to avoid cable box fees and surf the net. I use other devices for streaming and watching ripped movies/shows. Of course an HTPC can do that sort of thing, but it's kind of a pain to set up a and use IMO, and a lot more expensive than a $60 roku. There's no problem keeping a cable box as well as a tuner in your HTPC, but then you have 2 devices doing exactly the same thing, and you aren't saving any money. But if that's what you want to do, you won't have any problems.
I think it depends on what your priorities are. If you mostly use Netflix, Hulu, etc., then I think a content streamer is better. If you watch a ton of personal media, then I think HTPC's are superior. I wouldn't recommend them to a complete computer novice though, although OpenELEC is pretty user friendly. WMC is a also probably far superior to your cable company's DVR, and using WMC can save you money in the longterm as well.
Plus, once you can add infinite DVR storage and skip commercials...