Who on here has gone digital with their movies and tv shows? I have some stuff but havn't made the full conversion because no one program seems to really grab me. For the record I am referring to owning, not renting services like netflix.
DVDs max out around 8 GB each if you do straight rips with no re-encoding. If you re-encode with H264, which is a lot more efficient, 1-2 GB each would be typical. If you use Handbrake, make sure you leave anamorphic enabled for DVDs.
You could put them on a share or USB drive or NAS and use a WDTV Live to play them. It plays just about everything and can even scrape metadata based on filenames to provide full information on movies, including artwork. An Apple TV would be pretty much limited to MP4 files and is really best used only if you get a lot of content from iTunes.
If menu structure is important to you, I dunno about the streamers. Windows Media Center certainly supports DVD menus, as do XBMC and VLC. However, you have to rip the full DVD structure, sacrificing re-encoding with H264, which means huge files, up to 8 GB and change per disc. It may be true that XBMC and VLC support menus in .iso files, but Media Center does not even see .iso files.