A friend of mine recently was shopping for a media storage system to manage his library of movies, music, pictures, etc. I directed him to a previous post I did re: my home media server. Seeing as how it's almost a year old, I decided to do an update with new equipment and specs.
The first component I updated was with the media player itself, the recently released Mac Mini. Great elegantly designed device. Easier to upgrade the RAM on though I went from 4GB down to 2GB on this new model and haven't seen any drop off in performance. When RAM prices are a little more affordable, I'll probably spring for the 4GB. I'm running MakeMKV to do the video conversion/ripping and Plex to manage my media. MakeMKV is one of the simplest bluray/dvd ripping software I've used to date and Plex handles all video files like a champ. Boxee is a good alternative to Plex but I just don't like the interface. I still use the same external USB bluray drive I've had before. Saw no reason to upgrade it but may do so when faster drives become a little cheaper.
The other major component is the Drobo storage system. Since the Mac Mini currently has a 320GB drive, you won't be able to store much there. I have the original Drobo 4-Bay system but they've since released a very nice upgrade in the Drobo FS. The new FS has 5 bays and integrated gigabit ethernet. This is perfect for if you want to stash your Drobo somewhere hidden and then just pipe the media to multiple locations via a gigabit router.
Other components are the Logitech diNovo Mini (essential if you don't want to deal with a big keyboard and mouse) and the Apple Remote. Not super essential but extremely useful for an uncluttered coffee table.
It's definitely not a plug and play type of solution but with a little bit of do-it-yourself elbow grease, you'll have a home media manager that will grow with you for the foreseeable future. If you have any questions, please feel free to hit me up for advice.