Normally referred to as DAS (Direct Attached Storage), different from Network (NAS).
Have not used, don't know. It looks like only the interface is different and no RAID options...
The biggest advantage of using Brix-like PCs, is attaching them to the back of the TV,
connect to power, network and TV and forget about it. Grabbing files from the network.
On the other hand, this might be a steep price to pay: about $500 to make your TV smart...
But if you want to keep the option to see the desktop on TV - Win or Mac - there are no real alternatives.
Otherwise, you might look into having Chromecast do the basic HTPC job (saving some $450 in the process).
Or something in between like WD TV Live (PBO
is my favorite in this category)...
1) No but a mATX PC that can will cost about the same price.
Mini-ITX will do just as well.