The HDMI handshake and WMC resolution issues would probably go away if you ditched the HTPC. I haven't had a handshake issue since moving to the Tivo.
Hate to burst your bubble, but it's already happened. For me, I just want a box that lets me record and watch TV while having the ability to play videos and movies streamed from my server. A HTPC is the perfect one box solution for me. I've got a server with more videos and movies than I will ever have time to watch and four HTPCs that have the ability to watch live TV and share recordings made on the primary HTPC. They can also record locally, but nobody else in the house records shows but me. I don't stream from any services like Netflix or Hulu. Then again, you don't need a separate box for them because most Smart TVs have streaming functions built in these days.
That's because your requirements are minimal. Most people do use streaming services nowadays, and no one wants to replace every TV in their house with smart TVs.
I haven't had a handshake issue with a HTPC in years. Current hardware all but eliminates this problem. Every once in a while I'll turn on the TV and get a green screen. Changing the input on my pre/pro and back again fixes the problem. Sometimes the WMC window is displayed in a 4:3 format, but all I have to do is exit WMC and restart it to return to a 16:9 format. All of these are minor annoyances at best and remedied quite easily.
Sounds like you DO have handshake issues! They just don't bother you. I wouldn't mind doing those things myself, but asking my 6 year old or mother-in-law to change inputs on my receiver, or close WMC and re-open, is not realistic. In my theater I close/re-open WMC every time I switch to it but that's with a nice learning remote and a macro I have setup.
I have handshake issues when using a Roku or Fire TV Stick (I tried both) and 2 Insignia TVs (purchased a year apart) with my HTPCs. I tried 3-4 year old HTPC using an Intel mini-ITX board and also a 1 year old NUC and both have the same issue. Basically when switching to the Roku or Fire TV Stick, then going back to the HTPC I will get on-screen static. Sometimes if I hit the Live TV button on my remote the picture will pop up, otherwise I have to turn the TV off and back on. I tried a variety of configurations, HTPC video driver adjustments, HDMI cables, etc. and the problem remains on both TVs, multiple HTPCs, both streaming devices, etc. I installed a Geffen HDMI Booster I had kicking around on 1 of the TVs between it and the HTPC and sure enough it eliminates the issue 98% of the time - it must do something to the HDMI signal coming out of the HTPC enough to make a difference.
I could blame the Insignia TVs, but every other combination of devices I've tried (Xbox 360, WiiU, FireTV Stick, etc.) work fine. With the other shortcomings my HTPCs have around the house I would rather replace them than replace my TVs that I'm otherwise fine with. For all I know a different TV might have the same or similar trouble.
My HTPC seemed to mostly have handshake issues while I was away on travel or any time I wasn't home to fix it. Not good for the WAF (or family AF).
Same here!!! Always when out on date night with my wife...
Yeah I know the captain is going to jump in and say don't use extenders, SFF PCs are the way to go but they introduce a full set of other problems for WMC use.
I use small PCs and NUCs and have worked around most limitations. I'm pretty happy with my recorded TV, live TV and ripped movie streaming setup, but anxious to move forward with TiVos instead to improve things a bit more.