If you don't want a crippled DRM stick? Then accept you are gonna need an HTPC. You can get one of the Chinese ARM boxes but I find they are rather limited on the amount of software you can run on 'em, a better choice IMHO would be to get one of the AMD Socket AM1 chips which is what I've been using at the shop. Crazy low power (average around 8w-12w according to kill-a-watt), GPU powerful enough to do 1080P with no sweat or lagging, and if you don't want to spend $$$ on an OS you can slap on OpenELEC and have a 10 foot UI OOTB.
But if all you want is the cheap stick? You are gonna have to accept they are nothing but DRM delivery medium, your only real choices are the cheapo Chinese ARM nettops (which again severely limited on apps, no OS updates make them vulnerable to hack, limited playback and media options) or go with a full blown HTPC. Considering that HDMI makes everything plug and play, the AM1 makes an APU powerful enough and ULV while being cheap easy to come by, and the sheer amount of options an HTPC gives you from serving media to your entire house by slapping a multi TB drive and having your entire media library always accessible to streaming and casual gaming makes the HTPC a no brainer IMHO. I know a lot of my HTPC customers start with the sticks then quickly get tired of the limitations and want to "trade up" to something with more options.
Try one, I bet you'll find it does all you want it to do.