MATE is a simple, neat destop that
Using Xubuntu here for that same reason. Not to mention the fact that I have a lesser machine (an eMachines EL1358G) with not quite enough RAM to run full-on Ubuntu. Canonical seems to have done some nice things with its spin of XFCE used here.
The Ouya does that better at lower cost, no soft-mod required.
Not to mention the availability of non-game apps on the device. Does TuneIn ring a bell? Not sure if the Ouya has the right video innards, but it could probably run Netflix or Hulu and become yet another Roku competitor.
Roku units are god-awful for playback of local content.
I'm running Plex on mine, which seems to work well. Gotta set the server up on a pc, but it seems pretty low impact.
Twonky is better for that kinda' thing. Just sayin'.
According to Wired.com "[I]f you’re running it in a browser, Amazon Instant video, Hulu, Rdio, and HBO Go all just work. As did video from Wired, Gawker media, and Flickr slideshows." I have a Roku and love it, but I also have Comcast. That means, in its infinite retardery, I can not watch HBO Go on my Roku. If this really does work as well as Wired says it does, I can watch it through the Chromecast Chrome browser, making my Roku a paperweight.
Roku only makes sense if you're a Time Warner Cable customer and you buy one the nicest Roku models, which of course makes holding onto your first-gen/second-gen Roku (for who knows how long) a no-no becuase these don't support Time Warner Cable's app. Having a Roku is a must in most newer Time Warner Cable markets (such as Louisville KY, where I live) because the ability to offer more HD channels than what you'd get through the cable box.