I tried to go the HTPC route, but problems with slot configurations and the age of the PC, plus the cost & risk of installing a graphics card with questionable HDMI/component out, killed the idea. It’s much easier to find a media player for $100 or less. And these media players are quieter than HTPC.
Connecting a media player to the internet, streaming videos over a network, etc, does not interest me. I want only a basic media player with a simple windows explorer type of GUI. The ability to accept a portable USB dvd player would be a plus. Comments and reviews from users of the better 1080p media players, indicated that playing files would not be a problem.
For the most part, I looked at the lower price media players:
NBOX V1(480), V2(720), V3(1080p) $29-$59
Roku XD Streaming Media Player
HDMI brand media player
WD Live Plus
ASUS O!PLAY … HDP-R1 HD Media Player 1080p
ASUS O!Play Air HDP-R3 HD Media Player 1080p
Viewsonic VMP71 (Argosy HV335T)
Netgear NeoTV 550 Ultimate HD Media Player
Media Gear AP-300 (Zinwell ZP-530)
Zinwell ZP500, 510, 520, 530
Seagate FreeAgent Theater HD Media Player STCEA101-RK
Seagate FreeAgent Theater+1080P HD Media Player STCEA201-RK
Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex TV STAJ100
ZIN-5005HD (not so low-end, but interesting)
Brite-View BV-5005HD “CinemaTube” 3-in-1 1080p Full HD Multimedia
I know about the Popcorn Hour and others listed at AVS, but I leave those to the big boys. :a
The research went really well. Amazon reviews and comments were extremely helpful. The videos on Youtube helped by showing the GUI along with relative speed. I kept the Youtube videos by way of www.keepvid.com and reviewed the info again. You can’t shop like that at a brick & mortar ! Not every player could handle the RMBV format, so be sure and check the specs.
At a cost of $62.50 (shipping included), I had no choice but to go with the Viewsonic VMP71. The VMP71 accepts a hard drive, and the GUI looked very fast on Youtube. I expect to use the standard Argosy HV335T firmware in this player, but there is a hacked Argosy firmware that will open up an internet radio feature.
Before making a purchase at regular retail prices, look for new arrivals (that for only a few dollars more), will have the ability to record at 720p.
Good luck with your choice.