I've been wondering about buying some sort of media center for a while now but I'm not sure what to do for the best. I want something with a limited cost (under £500) and which, ideally, I can use for low-end computing tasks as well as media playback.
My initial idea was to get a netbook. But research would seem to indicate that most, if not all, netbook systems are going to struggle with video playback, especially HD video, and if I want blu-ray or DVD playback (which I do), it'll almost certainly mean buying an external drive. Plus I'll have to disconnect it from the TV and audio every time I want to use it for computing.
So now I'm left wondering about the possibility of having an ordinary desktop system to do it, fitted with reasonable graphics and sound cards. But I'm fairly ignorant about potential methods of actually harnessing a desktop attached to the TV for computing tasks.
For example, I assume there are likely to be potential problems with resolution and such if I try and hook up a PC into an ordinary, non-HD, CRT TV (assuming you can get non HDMI TV-out on PC's nowadays)? I'll have to get a wireless keyboard and mouse, I suppose. And will I need some sort of remote control to make best use of its media center function? Am I best off installing a dual-boot with an ordinary OS and some sort of media center software, or am I best off using the native media players in the OS? And so on ..
In short, is this possible? Desirable? And if so, what are the best options?