Currently I have a Media Center PC for home use and I wouldn’t trade it for an Apple TV, Chromecast or anything similar to these devices. While both Apple TV and Chromecast are cool and very functional they just don’t compete with a full blown PC.
The price of an Apple TV or Chromecast are lower than any Media Center PC I would build or recommend. However most users would not need my superior Media Center. The entry level Media Center PC is actually very affordable and offers a whole lot more than Apple TV or Chromecast.
Intel has started manufacturing the NUC (Next Unit of Computing) and these devices are amazing. Intel and other vendors such as Gigabyte have a variety of base units which you can custom configure but only certain aspects can be configured: storage, wireless and memory (RAM).
With a Media Center you can play games, surf the web, email, work on documents and so on. You can pick out a wireless keyboard and mouse of your choice. It all depends on the system you select, a person could even get into virtualization. I have not personally tested virtual machines on a NUC and imagine that heat could be an issue.
If you aren’t in the market for a Media Center then the NUC has plenty of other applications. They would make a great PC for at home and it greatly reduces space. The NUC is amazing for business as well, small, affordable and great for accessing all of those cloud applications.
I really hope that these devices take off!