Hopefully, I'll have a Logitech Revue for the pile by the end of the week. I'm looking for something to plop down in the second bedroom at my parents' house. With any luck I'll be able to hook it into Plex and stream content from my apartment, but even if I can't, I can see that it has a great built-in web browser and the usual Android experience for things like Email, so it would work as a tertiary internet access device.
I just started my second go-round on this stuff. It's a shockingly popular class, though even after I demonstrate the devices and what they can do, many of the guys still want to plug a computer in their TVs.
New observations relating to this subject:
1. My issues with Boxee apparently stem from the fact that it is not in fact a DLNA certified device. It kinda-sorta has UPNP functionality, but DLink admits that it doesn't work very well. They told me that I'm better off with SMB or NFS. Which is fine for me, but for my students that's kind of a huge gotcha since I don't really want to spend a class period explaining all the inconsistencies in Windows networking.
2. Likewise, Roku players don't support DLNA. There's an application you can install to make some local media content available to a Roku, but it's not DLNA. I hadn't even noticed, but one of my students asked me about it and sure enough it's not there.
3. Of all the devices I've tried, the Boxee has the best presentation for music. That said, it's still absolutely awful. Everything seems to be built around the idea of having playlists, but if you actually have hundreds of playlists, it's still atrocious to manage on a set top box. This is a place where an HTPC is vastly better.
4. The Popcorn Hour player is a functional Linux machine of some kind. With its software installed, it's visible via SMB and NFS and it's a DLNA service, too. But for some reason, that software isn't in the box's firmware. It needs to be installed on a drive that's formatted with a Linux-ish filesystem. I had been using an NTFS drive in its caddy, so the software wasn't working until I plugged in a 1GB thumb drive and allowed it to format it. Whatever. Seems like a silly limitation.
5. Because the interest in HTPCs is so high, I'm spending more time on XBMC. Unfortunately, what I'm finding is that a lot of XBMC is kind of hack-y and not very functional for anything but local media. It's great for your enormous collection of video files. It's not so good if you'd like to watch streaming content. Services like Netflix, Youtube and various first party streaming sites like PBS and Comedy Central all appear to be completely broken. In theory, that's not a big deal because you're using a computer, but of course it would be nice to have one interface for everything. Having to dig through the list of addons to find the one you want is kind of a PITA, too. This is someplace where Windows Media Center does a better job. I hated typing that sentence.
6. There's a DLNA server addon for FreeNAS. That's not really something I'd teach in class, but it seems to work and it's free.