Digital living room

For the longest time I have been discouraged to pay cable companies large amounts every month, just to watch news and may be one or two favored channels. In addition to lack of desire to pay for cable tv, I had even less motivation to watch anything on live tv because of non-stop annoying commercials. My first move was to get TiVO, which was definitely great device, however, now I had to pay for two services, TiVO and the cable bill, which wasn't exactly the plan.
I started looking at other solutions available on line at the time. I purchased used laptop from ebay for about $150, installed Ubuntu on the machine, and started streaming content right from the web. Immediately, living room digital life became more colorful and inspiring. However, this solution also had some flaws. After some time, I realized that I am still hanging too much by the laptop, instead of laying on the couch and flipping my channels. I did tried some solutions, such as using wireless mouse and the keyboard, which would enhance my experience, however it wasn't precisely the easier thing to do.
At last, I decided to look even further into creating really simple solution that would be very close to having cable box, and being able to lay back on the couch with the remote control and be able to flip through channels. I read about many available solutions, the one that caught my eye was Asus HD-1 Digital player, which could be connected via eithernet port to local network, and with some hacking be able to browse the internet and get access to world wide web.
The device came with remote control and easy to use interface, had HDMI or composite input, as well optical SPDIF, which as perfect for my Yamaha amplifier for crisp digital sound without any distortion or analog static noise. In addition this box allowed to stream content using UPNP protocol. After looking into this framework, I figured that I could use ORB service or something similar to stream online content through the box. I tried a buch of services including Boxee, XMBC, Windows Media Center, but the best of all turned out to be PlayOn, combined with ASUS HD-1 O!play.