So I decided to make my own media center.
Bravery or folly? Not so much, a bit of Googling and tinkering brought me a very usable result. My U/I of choice is XBMC, if your have not taken it for a ride it's very cool & simple to use. I did not want to put a full-blown PC by the TV, something more discreet was preferred and since its a media player, did not want to blow a fortune (you can get a brand-name device for $50+).
So I went the way of the Raspberry PI, a "system-on-a-chip" board with 10/100 networking, 2x USB & most importantly an HDMI port. And it goes for $25. Complement that with a SDHC 8GB card, electricals & a case from these guys along with their IR receiver (for the Logitech Harmony of course).
I tinkered for a while as there are 3 Linux distributions made for the RPi with XBMC and settled on OpenELEC, for speed & compatibility with the IR receiver. Once set up I added NFS support to my NAS (Synology 212J) so access is as fast as possible, configured it and voila, a media center for the living room which outpaces most of the commercial ones. The only think missing (for now I hope) is Netflix support.
There is a new version coming of XBMC (13 codename Gotham), I'll get a new SDHC card to try it out so I won't mess up what I've got working.
Try it for fun on Windows, Linux or MacOS (even Android), time well spent. Here is a sample pic of the main U/I: