Well the HTPC is on hold as the budget is shot... at least for a while. I will use the laptop with an external 2TB drive for the interim. I have about one third of my DVD's now ripped and I just need to get my interface resolved. I think maybe XBMC for the short term.
I have pretty much decided not to put the Blu-rays on HDD as their size is to much of an issue at this point. Maybe later as 20-30 TB is more than I can afford right now and I would rather spend the money on more movies than storing what I now have. I really wish my DVD collection were all blu-rays. The difference in quality on the big screen is quite startling, almost disappointing. I guess the solution then is to use madvr as an image renderer when playing them through MPC-HC. I had tried to select madvr in MPC-HC and although it was installed it listed it as "unavailable" . Haven't figured out why yet as I've been to involved in getting everything else running.
My old Yamaha receiver will get replaced with my new Marantz NR1403 tonight and that should put some spark into my audio system. I love Marantz. I still have my Marantz 2230 receiver that I bought when I was 19 years old. That makes it 40 years old this year and it still runs great.
After that there's not much else to do other than install some sound baffles and I may install some light baffles on the ceiling as its white and the reflection is a minor annoyance. Rather than paint I'll place some 6" x 10' long black fabric curtains hanging from the ceiling parallel to the screen set back at 2' on centre to prevent reflection. That will solve that problem. Otherwise I need to finish the computer part of the HT which I will do with the laptop and then transfer it to the larger PC once I can afford to build it.