ushare: I am really leaning towards an htpc at this stage. If only i could get rid of the blu ray receiver and plug the 5.1 straight into the htpc?
Is that possible?
Do you mean in order to play Blu-ray disks? If so, just put a blu-ray player in the PC, that is what I have done and it works great.
If you mean plug the HTPC into the amp, then yes, you should be able to do this. Most receivers and HTIB units have at least an analog input, and more than likely some sort of optical or coaxial which will allow DTS and DD.
As for the comments around HTPC being complex, I would say that if you go down the Windows and Media Centre road, it can be quite easy. I have found 90% of the time it is install and go (taking into account the need to install drivers etc).
You will need Media Browser or similar inside Media Centre to index your movies/TV Shows and display the fan art/synopsis etc. Plus if you takes your fancy, you can add Hulu in there too. Plus of course it can support tuners for watching/recording TV
On the other hand software such as MediaPortal etc give you far more flexibility, but at the cost of maybe needed more tweaking.
I would say your choice now comes down to your need to watch/record live TV.