In no particular order, options on the list for me were:
- Linksys NSLU2 (aka SLUG), about £55 plus a USB hard disk.
- Buffalo Linkstation, about £100.
- Netvoyager LX1000, about £100 plus a USB hard disk.
- Netvoyager LX1010, about £150 plus a USB hard disk.
about £200£247.93 inc delivery & VAT.
- TinyTuxbox, starting at £200 upwards.
- Mac Mini, starting at £400 upwards.
- Self-build small form factor such as nano-itx or pico-itx, about £180 upwards. Best bang for your buck starts with the D201GLY2 mini-itx board from Intel.
EDIT (suggestions from comments, with my thanks):
- Pico PC, about £440 (thanks to Joel Wright, a colleague at IBM).
- Aleutia E2 Mini PC, about £200 plus a USB disk (thanks to Mike Rosenberg of Aleutia).
- Tranquil T7 Atom PC, about £240 (something I just found).
- Viglin MPC-L, about £79 (from Tony Whitmore)
- Space Cube, about £1500 and not for sale (from Dave Conway-Jones, a colleague at IBM)
All have clear advantages and weaknesses I wont go into in detail for each box. However, they can roughly be grouped into cheaper solutions as provided by a hacked NAS box, or more expensive PC style systems. Some go straight out of the list on price alone, such as the relatively expensive Mac (I don't understand the Mac fad, single vendor lock-in, haven't we seen that somewhere before?).
I decided to plump for the cheapest of all the options, the SLUG. I figure that even though it has a slow processor and only 32MB memory it does have a fighting chance of running SqueezeCenter to power the Squeezebox Duet based on the reports of other users running SlimServer on it. If all else fails, there are plenty of people at work looking for low power solutions who may be willing to buy a 2nd hand SLUG should I want to upgrade anyway.
The SLUG is a very well-known device in the land of hackery. It can easily be modified to run any one of several different versions of Linux that maintain different levels of compatibility with the original Linksys firmware and interface. It's purpose in life when released (back in 2004 I think) was as a cheap NAS box that simply provides a USB to Ethernet interface. The idea being you plug a cheap USB hard disk into it, configure via the simple web interface, and you have storage you can access from anywhere on your home network. Because Linksys made the device cheap, naturally their choice of operating system was a free one, Linux. The Linux license dictates Linksys had to make their source code available, hence it's easy to modify the original software for your own purposes. The rest follows from there really!