1) price of unit ATV2 that can be jailbroken maybe $70
2) Cable maybe $10, HDMI cable $10
3) Software ATVFlash $30
GRAND TOTAL $120
Windows 7 (32 bit) running Windows Media Player (aka WMC)
1) Refurbished WIN 7 machine $150
Cable from video-audio to HDTV $20 (most will accept a PC)
3) WMC remote $25
GRAND TOTAL $195
But I find the Windows 7 machine to be very future proof. It can run XBMC and PLEX and HULU and NETFLIX. It can capture OTA broadcast channels if you install a tuner card for $50 more. Am liking my WIN7 solution so far after testing it for the last two weeks.
You’re comparing apples to oranges. One is a set top box not much bigger then a deck of cards that requires very little configuration, the other is a full blown PC hooked up to a TV.
No product will ever be future proof. I’m guessing you’re under 30 because I used to think that way too, and eventually you realize it’s a waste of money to try to meet demands you don’t need today. Buy the cheapest device you can find that fills the role today, and upgrade every few years. I have a hard time believing you won’t spend another penny on that box before most of us will upgrade to a newer version of the AppleTV.
Yes, using a desktop as your set top box gives you certain advantages. So does the AppleTV:
Can you rent movies off your TV?
Can you control your TV with your phone if you can’t find the remote?
Can you play a movie off YouTube or show someone a website bookmarked on your tablet or phone without plugging any cables in or having to search for it again?
If you have a party, and want to let others add songs to your playlist can they do that from their phone?
Can you watch trailers of upcoming movies in HD?
Can your parents, non-tech savvy girlfriend, or random house guest sit down and use it for the first without any trouble?
The interface on the AppleTV is bar none the best out there, and with Airplay I can do a lot of cool things you can’t on other set top boxes. A week ago I was out smoking on my deck while my girlfriend was inside watching a show. I found a video I thought she’d like on TED, and when I walked inside in two clicks on my phone the video was playing on my TV.
If you really want to, with nitoTV and SSH you can do a lot more to your AppleTV then you’d think. Everything you listed can and has been done, and more. I’m not trying to be a douche, but going on the official forum for modified AppleTV software and posting about how a Win7 box is better is kind of moronic.
The whole PC idea is so 80s when the ATV with ATV Flash is the best. I use mine with Plex and a Mac Mini Server with PMS and 6x2TB Ext drives for Streaming. No way a PC can do what i have setup on my ATV2 with ATV Flash.
While I agree wholeheartedly on ALL of your points, this is hardly a gang affiliation. I mean if we cant have a serious discussion then whats the point? besides, where is he supposed to ask that same question? On the XBMC boards? He would more than likely get the same response.