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Discussion Starter #1
I am in need of finding the best way to watch movies (.avi, mkv, etc) on my 42" plasma. The computer is atleast 50 feet away and I would prefer to not run a cable from it to the TV. Want to feed the TV via HDMI and I have an external Hard Drive with the movie files.

What is the best bang for your buck product on the market that can do what I need, is it the Western Digital HD Media Player?
 

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My choice would be the WDTV Live. Mine works fine, it's cheaper than Apple TV, and you can attach external storage to it as well.

Plus, with custom firmware, you can download torrents straight to the attached hard drive also.

The only negative is that you require to purchase a USB wireless adapter if you aren't running CAT5. I use the USB600N from Linksys and rarely have any significant issues.
 

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I second the WD model. I use mine with wireless n as well and have a few stutters when when playing some HD (blu-ray burns) content but I don't typically play that so not a big deal. The only pain is when I've selected digital sound output and the content is not coded that way. I have to go into setup and reset it to analog.
 

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Third.

It had a bumpy start, and the interface is basic, but it gets the job done. I have a pair of Live's and the family is totally hooked on the concept.
 

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I use the Acer Aspire Revo, with Windows 7. It's tiny and has an HDMI port. Wireless keyboard and mouse included. It uses nVidia's new ION graphics chip. Plays HD stuff quite well. I think it can be had for around $330. Lot's of USB ports as well for attaching external drives.

I too didn't want to run an Ethernet cable all over the house, so I use power-line networking. 2 small adapters- one at the router and one near the TV. Performance so far has been flawless- no drops whatsoever. I use XBMC and it pulls my movies/pictures/music from my NAS device over at the computer. HDMI goes to the receiver, and from the receiver to the TV. Best setup I've ever invested in.
 

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Patriot Box Office is hard to beat.

For the price of the WDTV Live, you can almost get the PBO + an internal HDD to put inside.

Play from a HDD is the most reliable solution. I like the internal HDD option even >90% of the time, I stream directly fro the Kitchen PC (server).
 

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I should have mentioned that I also have, in addition to the WDTV Live, an LG BD390 Blu Ray player. This allows for wireless N streaming as well. I've never had an issue with this item either. I don't know if they still sell the 390, but I am sure the latest one will be cheaper and have more features.

Plus, you get the added benefit of a Blu Ray player.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Ok so I bought a WDTV Live and hooked it up and it's very simple to use and seems to work pretty well. But in the back of my mind I am wondering if it's really a smart purchase. Right now I am considering returning it for the Patriot Box Office with an Internal HD which will be about the same or just slightly more depending on the HD size. The other option is the Acer Revo AR1600-U914HE Intel Atom 230 which can be had for $170 + tax. I like this option as I get a full computer for only $60 more than the WDTV Live. My only concern is if it will be fine with playing HD content onto the TV.
 
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