I finally broke down last night and bought an Apple TV. I got the $229 model with a 40G hard drive as I don’t need much local storage.
Got it home, got it setup and working in less than ten minutes, and then proceeded to follow the directions on the atvusb-creator web page and make a USB “patchstick”.
Once the unit was patched and SSH enabled, I was able to SSH in and install NitoTV Take 2. NitoTV has built-in installers for the Perian codecs and other utilities. After that was done, I shared my “TV Shows” and “Movies” directories on the Mac Mini via SMB and mounted them via the GUI interface on the AppleTV.
Now, to watch any of my DivX/XviD/MP4/AVI movies, I just pick “NitoTV” from the main AppleTV menu, then go to “Files” and then browse the “Movies” or “TV Shows” directories and hit PLAY.
It couldn’t have been any easier to setup (certainly easier than other “hacks” I’ve seen for commercial devices) and the output looks great on my 42″ plasma TV (an Akai PDP4206EM – it’s not HD, but does 480i “EDTV”).