Recommendations needed on Digital Multimedia Receivers

Ok, this is the only category where i thought this question would fit in, so here goes ...

I have a PS3 which I use to watch videos and listen to music from. I basically hate the interface because, to me, it is clunky and not all that polished when navigating and used to entertain. Not to mention that for some reason, I sometimes can't get it to see my music from my HP desktop running Windows 7 (what a pain).

I was thinking about getting a Western Digital WD TV Live to solve this problem. I was wondering what other device would be recommended that compares to this - it doesn't matter if it costs more, I just want something that works well. The cost for the WD is minimal, which is great, and the only other device that I thought of was the Apple TV but it has limited HD support which kills it for me. The PS3 is great at playing a Hi-Res movie.

I have a pretty nice middle of the road set-up with a 50" Pioneer Elite Plasma TV (to be upgraded to an LED when the technology matures a bit), a Denon 3805 AV Receiver, the PlayStation 3, an upconverting DVD player, and a DIRECTV HD DVR and I have speakers in 3 zones in my house (outside, home theater, and dining/living room area).

I would like to be able to play most video formats (AVI, MPEG, MKV, WMV, MP4, M4V) and music file formats (AAC, MP3, OGG) as well as be able to play a slide show of my favorite images if I want to. I would like for it to display up to 1080 and also present my catalog in an intuitive fashion that just plain looks nice (hi-res album art, music sorting, playlists, etc). I would also like for it to have the proper outputs to connect to my entertainment center.

Is there any device that fills these requisites? Should I just get a dedicated laptop for this at the risk of it getting demolished at a get together or something? It would also be great if this device would be supported by my Logitech 890 universal remote.

Anyone out there that knows about this stuff?

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  1. I would suggest looking at the popcorn hour stuff also. See if that might be something you would like. They are a bit spendier but you can put a harddrive in the C200 in addition to USB drives. My choice would be the C200.

    Also, if you are like me and don't want to involve the TV for listening to music look at this Squeezebox. I have an older version Squeezebox and it is the coolest thing since sliced bread. I rip in FLAC format but it will play most audio formats. Flac files are larger but will sound better going through that Denon. You and I have very similar setups

    Or you could look into building a Home Theater PC (HTPC). Easiest thing would be the popcorn hour though or the WD TV. I thought about the popcorn stuff but built an HTPC. Much more flexible but ALOT more work and expense.

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