I’m looking to get some hardware that will let me stream video from my PC onto my television set, however from what I understand there are a lot of limitations on many of the products out there. Particularly in terms of what file formats you can use on them and other nonsense.
In terms of the broadest use of file formats and reliability in doing so, what is the best piece of hardware to pick up?
Unless you need to stream full-resolution HD content, the best option is unfortunately still Xbox Media Center running on an old mod-chipped Xbox 1. It plays basically every format that is ever used and has neat features like the ability to stream DVD ISO images. (You can, for example, rip your entire DVD collection to ISO files, share them on a smb file share and XBMC will read them and let you view them like real DVDs, including menus and special featueres and everything). It also does photo slideshows, music (streamed files and shoutcast channels), etc, etc.
They are currently porting XBMC to Linux, so the best option in a few months will probably be an inexpensive small form-factor PC running Linux and XBMC for Linux with a TV out card or connected to an HDTV via DVI/VGA.
Actually… I have been meaning to get an original Xbox to toy around with in similar regards. So I think you just ensured my purchase.