My Ghetto Apple TV is a media player, well, it's a DVD player that plays AVIs through USB port (US$50), with a not so nice GUI, a hard disk (from an old PC), and a NetDisk enclosure (US$19.95).
This is part of a bigger instructable outlining a media network that records off satellite TV and streams media around the house, but I figured some people might just want to watch their AVIs on a TV or through a projector. Hopefully you might already have some (or all) of these components already lying around the house!
Step 1: Find a Media Player With a USB Port
I've always been more comfortable with a soldering iron than a credit card, but you may be the opposite....
Step 2: Now Find a Hard Drive That You Can Connect to Your Media Player
If your player plays off the USB drive but doesn't recognise your hard drive, try these tricks:
1) Use a hard drive that is 128GB or smaller
2) If bigger than 128gb, try a 128GB partition
3) Format the drive using FAT32
4) Wrap electrical tape around the outside of the USB connector (either side). Sometimes the players think it is a flash drive if it doesn't share an earth (ground) (pic 1)
5) Use a hard drive that has it's own power adapter
So if you could use a spare external hard drive you might have lying around (pic 2).
You might have a drive from an old PC or laptop and you could buy a external enclosure for it (pic 3)
Or if you are really cheap, you skip the external case and just buy the USB to PATA/SATA connector (pic 3) and power it up with an old PC power supply.
Step 3: Now Network Your Media Storage.
So now you copy all your media over to your networked hard drive, turn on the media player and start enjoying it on your TV or projector.
I hope that everyone will try different players and through your comments, we can set up a database of the working media player solutions!