As you can see, as the native graphic support evolved, so has my HTPC accordingly. A couple of months though, everything changed as OEMs started to ship with Atom + ION based integrated solutions. One of these offerings being the Acer Aspire Revo:
My mom wanted to replace her old HPTC setup that I built for her so she can watch the newer Blu-Rays (I blame myself for getting her hooked), so it had to pass the "KISS - Keep It Simple Stupid" litmus test. Installation was a breeze, although the as other reviewers have pointed out, there was too much bloatware included with the package. One thing I really like about nVidia's ION solution as opposed to Intel's or AMD's, is the backward compatibility of ION: it simply works with all current and older generations that supported the old (and now defunct) nVidia PureVideo solutions. This includes the widely popular PowerDVD 7+ , ARCSofts older TMT, and a plethora of other media players. What this means is that you don't need to invest more money into newer bloated software, just simply reuse your existing one. And I did just that with a combo of PowerDVD 7.3 and Windows XP (!!!!). Blu-Ray playback was comparable to my Quadcore 9400 setup with a nVidia 9300 chipset core, yet costed hundreds less! Probably the cheapest solution before (and one that i had built for friends) was a combo of older AMD BE CPU with an nVidia 8200 chipset for BD playback, but that still ran about 150-200 alone. Those were uATX solutions and still consumed a bit of power. Now with the Acer Aspire, $200 get you everything in an ultra small ITX footprint complete with OS, mouse + keyboard (add a few $$$ if you wanted external CD/DVD). Needless to say, there is no reason to build it yourself anymore, unless you wanted complete customizations or a hybrid HTPC / Gamer setup - Media Server / Player setup. I expect when Pinetrail comes to fruition with ION2, packaging will further shrink making these setups sort of common household media Appliance or better yet, as netbook / media player derivatives. After playing with it a few months now, we are definitely on the cusp of a HTPC revolution!