So, for most of my life so far I've had a computer in my bedroom/living room. I have tons of TV shows and films ripped to it, stored on a large external drive.
Tomorrow, I move into a new apartment. My computer will no longer be in my bedroom or living room but in a separate office/computer room. So I need to figure out a device that can take some of the weight off the host computer and run files on its own. The most demanding thing is going to be 720p x264 files in MKV containers.
As you may know, I'm a Mac guy. The Apple TV seems to be the cheapest solution. I'd have to hack full-blown Leopard onto it, which is a EULA violation. We probably shouldn't discuss that further but I know it's an option. I'm only concerned that it might choke a bit on the combination of network and HD content with such a weak processor and low RAM.
Aside from the Apple TV, do you know of any media extenders that would play the 720p files indicated? Tons seem to run XviD and DivX files, but that doesn't really do me very much good.