What's wrong with a simple box like the WDTV Live?
three words: Simple, Walmart, and Onehundred and nineteen dollars
but I'm sure a lot of Slashdot readers have at least one old desktop around. All that is really required is a TV with a VGA input, and most new ones have an HDMI cable input as well. If you're lucky that old desktop already has an HDMI cable output on its video card, otherwise go with VGA or buy a cheap HDMI enabled video card. Having a separate media box is very convenient because you never have to disconnect it
As for the couch sitting importance go for a decent Bluetooth mouse and keyboard.
If you get a cheapo, your experience will consist of writhing around the couch trying to get signal before you give up and find a surface closer to the reciever.
2016: Quick drop the FOSS depth charges
2018: The movie MPEG-571 is released
But, if you're looking for HAL, you have another 2001 years to wait. Nobody seriously is working toward that, except as a dream goal. Everybody wants a better prediction model for the stock market first.
Computational Perception and Developmental Robotics are a strong undertone in computer engineering courses at ISU. I don't know about other schools, but a HAL like computer is much less than a "dream goal". I can say without a doubt that it something similar will be engineered in much less than 2001 years. Technological growth is speeding up nearly exponentially(steam engine, combustion engine, flight, electricity, moonwalk) I'm sure everyone has heard the spiel. http://www.ece.iastate.edu/~alexs/dissertation/dissertation.pdf Asst Professor at ISU, Alex Stoytchev's dissertation focuses specifically on building a system of robotic learning, commonly called "Developmental Robotics". While his robot only had the ability to categorize objects based on resonance sound and mass, it still shows that fundamental building blocks for a one day "HAL" are already in existence.
It isn't easy being the parent of a six-year-old. However, it's a pretty small price to pay for having somebody around the house who understands computers.