Well I did a little project last weekend so thought I might let you guys know what I did. As I stated before I was getting really sick of the interface on the PS3 for browsing my growing Movie rips and such. So I took my old(ish) Macbook Pro, Acer Easystore WHS box and iMac and decided to try PLEX in my Home Theater room:
Wiped my MBP and loaded Snow Leopard back on it. Downloaded Plex 9 and installed it (very very easy). Hooked i tup to my Pioneer 5080HD by VGA (DVI-VGA adaptor) and tinkered a bit with the settings and then got a nice 1366X768 screen going since the plasma is 768p.
From there I moved on to the WHS box. I tinkered with the idea of loading Freenas or some other free open source NAS product on it but I said let's try WHS. Pretty simple after I setup the shares (Movies, Music DVD's, TYV Shows,Software, etc) With Plex there is no need for a copy of your pictures or really anything setup on teh NAS since it works from iPhoto sharing (also works with iTunes for serving music).
Once I was happy with the shares I just moved my media to the correct shares and then added the SMB shares to my MBP running plex and added them as login items.
After running plex (9) I went into its Media Manager app and updated my library for metadata including cover art, background images and plot details. This took about 30 minutes for my 400gb. My library is failry small at the moment.
* Interface is clean and simple (port of XBMC for OS X)
* Media manager is great for tagging your media. Some hiccups but about 95% accurate
* Great community of user's and developers for Plex
* Simple for my wife to operate and she likes it alot more than the PS3
* It plays everything I have thrown at it unlike the PS3
* No streaming, no transcoding
* Power useage is higher with using my MBP as the front end but can be helped with energy saving though OS X. My Wake on LAN is not working right so something to work on.
* Laptop in my Home Theater is not the greatest esthetically but will do for now.
* Heat dissapation is a bit of a problem right now with my older MBP being a model that is excessively hot especially with the lid closed.
* Plex 9 is fairly new so there are some bugs (VOB's are causing my Plex to crash).
* Cannot get this setup to work through my Yamaha RX-V3900 using a DVI->HDMI cable as it gives me all the wrong resolutions and causes tons of overscan. Even tried HDMI pass through hoping that no upscaling would help but no go.
* No HD Audio support (not an issue for me but for lots of people it is) PS3 Media server has this problem as well.
I will post some pictures if anyone is interested.
Ordered a 3.5mm to Toslink cable this week to give me 5.1 soon.