I built my HTPC about 2 years ago, and used Geekzone assistance to get FreeView up and running in the middle of this year. All went very well (if you consider three weeks of evenings to get FreeView ironed out as "going well"), and the rig performed flawlessly during the Olympics ... except for a few patches of pixelation every so often.
Basic setup 2.0GHz Core2 Duo, 1GbRam, Hauppage 3000, 320GbHDD, NV 8400GS - lots of other stuff, all in a fancy silver desktop case, driving a 32" LCD TV, via the PC port (not HDMI) and sound through cheap Philips Home Theatre receiver (this has got to be upgraded).
After the Olympics, for reasons unknown to me TV3 audio got decidely out of sinc ... with sound being up to 0.5s late. I couldn't find a "TV3 only" solution, and decided to make a few grass roots changes.
Video card upgraded from NV 8400GS/256Mb to NV 9600GT/512Mb.
RAM up from 1Gb/5300(?) to 2Gb/6400.
Multiple external HDDs moved off the machine to a Linux server (just might help).
Reset the sound software effects to <none> (This really had a positive effect)
And finally tried CyberLink PowerCinema (all sync problems dissappeared on first basic installation - cool!)
The setup has gone from stunning to perfect (although audio has to be upgraded) ... and the HTPC is now seen as an integral part of the home.
Slightly off topic - traps to be avoided by young players:
Set your computer to update drivers on a specific night away from the main social viewing - messages indicating impending doom - ie "Windows needs to reboot your computer" will cause family friction in the middle of "Notting Hill" or "Star Wars 6".
Do not be in a hurry to demonstrate the HTPC to the rest of the family - regardless of what you think, the girls are not geeks - it's all handbags and Thin Lizzie for them!
Once the HTPC is up and running (and you've learned how to avert the general crises) - forget about yourself and show what everyone else wants to see. I suppose if your rig is in a student flat, this is not going to be much of a problem.
And just in case your wondering, my HTPC is now used for:
* News and weather
* Playing MP3's while we paint/wallpaper
* Google Earth
* YouTube "laite art" clips (I can make a fernleaf!!!!!)
* StarTrek, and othe SciFi (I saw the very first StarTrek episode on NZ TV)
* Food shows
* CSI/NIS/SVU/USB/123 - ad infinitum
* European and Inde films
* "Gone Fishin"