Low Budget HTPC Build?

Looking to build/buy an HTPC system. This will be mostly a proof of concept for a spare TV--eventually I'd like to ditch cable, but I need to prove to my wife that it won't inconvenience her too much. Here are the requirements:
1. Linux. Needs to play nice. Haven't had hardware problems in years using linux, but I'll throw that out there.
2. CHEAP. The cheaper the better. For perspective, my 4 year old dual core AMD laptop/integrated graphics/2 gb/usb tv tuner (which was a bottom-of-the-line $350 special when I bought it) is pretty much sufficient for my needs.
3. Want it to be able to stream video, capture/record OTA network tv. It would be nice if it could capture/encode/play at the same time, but not a strict necessity--I realize that's pretty hardware intensive.
4. Low power. Needs to be able to sleep.
5. I'd love some slingbox/netflix, but haven't seen a linux solution yet (ever?). I'll probably use my wii for the netflix.

I was looking at something like this:

I love the form factor of these things, but what would I need to do for a tuner/capture device (I could use USB if need be, but I feel like that's probably a performance hit v. a dedicated card). If I need a card, would something like this work?:


Would it just be better to build something from scratch? I'm thinking that if I went this way it would end up being pricier. Lastly, what about just buying a low-end laptop/netbook? I'm sure a current low-end model would be able to handle the demands, and I could get one (HDD/RAM included) all day for ~$300:


Even though it isn't as cool, I'm not sure why more people don't just do the laptop solution...
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  1. For these tiny boxes, you can also use a network based tuner to record/watch TV over ethernet. Check out the HDHomerun series of tuners, they are highly rated. The Dual model is what you need for OTA. It runs about $100.
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