A couple years ago, a friend of mine built an Acer Revo 1600 system for under $200. This included the cost of an infra red receiver. My friend is a videophile and he is completely satisfied with this system. It plays HD Video and 5.1 Audio fine.
Today, the cheapest I can build an XBMC system is around $300. What do I get for the extra money? More RAM, More processor, More HD space. But do XBMC users really care for that? I think most users care just want the bare minimum requirements (read: cheapest) to run HD Video and HD Audio.
The reason the hardware is getting more expensive, is because hardware manufacturers are upping their specs with the latest and greatest processors and faster RAM. In doing so, they are making systems that are overpowered for the average XBMC users setup _and_ they use more power - so cost more to run.
The other thing that bothers me is that even though the systems have gotten 50% more expensive, they still don't include things that actually matter to xbmc users - like infrared receivers.
To summarize, systems are getting more expensive with no tangible value-add for most XBMC users. This is happening, when over time standard hardware configurations are supposed to get cheaper. (case in point is the PS3, xbox360, wii).
I think the XBMC community will benefit greatly from official XBMC standard hardware. Or at the very least, XBMC certified machines. I don't know how this community would go about doing something like that, but the benefits are numerous:
- The volume of support threads will decrease
- Hardware costs will fall over the years - instead of going up like right now
- People won't have to worry about which infrared receiver/remote to get (about half of your support emails are around remotes and their mappings)
- Increase in number of xbmc users, which would help further reduce prices and increase community model support
- Major universal remote providers will have preset remote settings for XBMC standard machines
- Hardware updates can include things that actually matter to XBMC users (like better infrared sensitivity, being able to hibernate/resume the machine via remote, ultra low power machines, noiseless machines, form factor decisions etc)
And these efforts don't only need to be geared towards the cheapest bare minimum machines. You can tier XBMC standard hardware into, low end, medium end, high end... and so on...
I know communities with a smaller following (like Silent PC Review) that have certified machines. XBMC's following is relatively huge. I have to believe that hardware vendors want to partner with XBMC. This should be doable, and would really help XBMC users.
Let me know what others think about this.