So I finally gave in and picked up an Apple TV unit; that frees up my Mac Mini from TV duty to be my main home computer, while letting the Apple TV concentrate on being a media player.
The good: unit is very compact, setup is pretty straightforward, and picture looks good once I adjust the ungodly color saturation my TV defaults to on the component input.
The bad: at least for the shows I tested (Veronica Mars season 3), video playback is totally broken at HD resolutions!
At 720p playback stutters very badly, with very jerky motion and sound out of sync from picture by about a second.
At 1080i I don’t even *get* picture during playback, just sound. (Menus display fine.)
At 480p everything looks great, though, and the currently available content doesn’t need more than that, so I’m leaving it there for now.
A quick Google scan doesn’t show any other obvious complaints of this problem, so I’m not sure if I’ve got a bogus unit or if it’s something funky with the Veronica Mars encoding that might not be a problem with other shows…
Update: At some point it started working fine. *shrug*