Software that makes it easier
For those who want their experience to be more media-centre-like, on Windows there is at least Windows Media Center. It's quite good for something that comes free with your operating system, although you'll likely want to install some extra codecs so more videos will play back.
For an even nicer experience, try the Media Browser plug-in, which brings things a little closer to the visual splendour of XBMC, another media centre app. If you're on the Mac side, we'd definitely favour XBMC over the included FrontRow.
Media Browser gives Windows Media Center a fresh coat of paint. Ladies not included.
(Credit: Media Browser)
If you've been bitten by the capabilities of your laptop on your TV, but are more attracted to the video side and large screen-friendly interfaces, perhaps it's time to start looking into building a full-fledged Home Theatre PC (HTPC). Hooked up over gigabit Ethernet, with TV tuners, proxies to get access to Hulu, Netflix, Spotify and Pandora, running XBMC with the official remote installed on your smartphone, perhaps an infrared remote, all linked to a heavily decked out NAS containing your local digital media library and tweaked to the extreme with advice from AVSForum. But that, friends, is another story...
The Antec Fusion Remote Black chassis. One potential home for one potential HTPC.