Jim's comment on my screed about Netflix reminded me that I left an important requirement out. "All I know is that I want to be able to watch streaming video from the network sites on my television" doesn't fully capture what I'm looking for in the perfect Web-enabled TV assistant box.
I also need to rip every one of my DVDs to disk and be able to watch them on my television. Whereas I believe Jim's frustration stems from aesthetic or possibly browsing concerns, mine arises out of the total obliviousness to proper DVD handling and care that my three daughters exhibit. Every disc they touch is smudgy and scratched. If I could digitize the movies before they got to them, they could enjoy skip-free entertainment and I wouldn't have to repeatedly buy new copies. (I've only done that twice and I hated to do it.)
Being able to stream from another computer or server would adequately cover this need. I have no problem attaching an external hard drive to one of my Macs to accomplish this. I believe that existing devices already address this issue, but again they lack the Web-level streaming that I'd like.