I had a netbook in the living room for a few years, not as a HTPC but just to have a second screen so I could do other things, look up stuff or just have a second screen while the TV is in use. Earlier this year, I replaced that with a ($150 10.1″ Chinese, but quite serviceable) tablet. It had one killer feature (HDMI out) that my netbook didn’t have, plus everyone is always saying how a tablet is better to than a laptop in the living room.
After doing this for half a year, I can definitively say that my quality of life has decreased because of this change. The tablet is too sluggish, and the UI too clunky to look up stuff quickly – and it’s not an issue with Android/Chinese-brand stuff either; I work with iPads so I am familiar with their UI and speed. I don’t bother looking up stuff in the living room anymore, I go back to my desktop.
So that tablet experiment fizzled rather quickly.
But I’m hopeful that the Chromebooks will change things. It is cheap ($250), light (2.5 pounds), and thin. It’s a tablet with a keyboard and mouse. Hopefully it will revive my living room computer.