Re: Media PC
Don't know about any other software, but I'd go with Vista Ultimate or a MCE of XP.
THAT said, Vista and MC are having lots of problems, especially if you plan on integrating extenders and what-not. I'm waiting until I get my hands on Vista SP1 to see if anything in that department is improved.
Also, Windows Media Player 11 is able to handle media between computers and other devices as well..
Reading your post again, I get the feel that this WILL be your only media piece in the room and you're not really looking to stream/share anything, right? In that case, there should be a bunch of programs but I'd use Media Center just because I'm familiar with it and its easy to use.
Intel Q6600 @ 3204Mhz ~ Tuniq Tower 120 ~Corsair XMS2 5GB ~ WD VelociRaptor 150GB Main ~ WD 1TB Black ~ EVGA 8800GTS 640MB ~ 7 Home Premium (64-Bit)