These are great sites for anyone planning to build an HTPC since lot of experienced people contribute.
The reception to this solution has been nevertheless a bit cold. The feed back is not been that positive with people comparing what they see with Windows Media Center stating that their systems does precisely the same thing.
Well, because I feel that most of them miss the point entirely I decided to post a description of the core features shown and why it is different from a MC7, Boxee or Plex only approach.
So what do you see?
On most systems and on MCE in particular the common usage scenario is people knowing what to do, switch on the HTPC, change TV inputs, pick up the remote and press the green button to call the main menu. Then browse along the menus and select the option that leads to the media they want.
That may be fine for us (the interested ones), but most people don't even know what an HTPC is and how to switch between TV inputs, let alone know how to navigate through the menus of these softwares.
There is a learning curve associated with a traditional HTPC based entertainment system and it is steep enough to be left alone by most people when compared standard TV services or gaming consoles.
This is where as solution like the Mini Harmony may come to rescue. The objective to give any user access whatever feature you have in your entertainment system with a simple touch of a button.
To this the remote works as a bookmark list to anything in your Home Entertainment System, as such without looking at the TV the user has immediate contact with all the features. Even if all the system switch off, any user can start leveraging the features provided not only by Windows Media Center, Boxee or Plex but also any other app you have in your system.
Ideally the user can jump from feature to feature irrespective of its host with a touch of a button. They may be watching cable, then jump to Pandora hosted by Boxee to listen to music, then go to the console to play a game and come back to watch a Hulu subscription.
So indeed this is another level of abstraction on top of what you may have.
Why the Mac mini?
I've done this with both the Mac and a WM7, but with the PC things look a lot clumsier due to the way the system work and its scripting facilities. Most software do not providing for instance vbscript APIs etc.
Albeit Intelliremote on Windows is ok is not as easy to use as Remote Buddy in the Mac.
The way the OSX implements the transitions between applications combined with Remote Buddy makes gives the user the illusion of using only one app, one appliance for everything.
Concluding it is enirely possible to make a similar thing with WM7 and Linux, it just takes more work and in my attempts did not look as good at all.