As someone who has managed to go twenty-five years without ever owning a television, I was looking for a platform that would allow me to stream music and video content online, without having to sit with a laptop or faff around with various addons/web browsers. Basically, I wanted a smart TV without the hefty price tag.
Formerly XMBC, Kodi is an awesome little open-source media centre which runs as a rather saucy full-screen OS. Best of all, Kodi now runs on the Raspberry Pi, meaning that you no longer need some bulky computer at next to your shiny flatscreen.
To install Kodi, simply download the ISO from the official Raspberry Pi website (Open Elec is the OS) and burn it to a 2GB+ memory card. I did this with ImgBurn, but Win32DiskImager offers a good free alternative.
Once installed, pop the SD card into your Pi (B+/ 2/ etc.) and run the set up as prompted. Full install instructions are available here. (Requires a USB keyboard and a monitor)
One the Pi was ready and Kodi was installed, I selected the following peripherals. Others are available, but I'd suggest ensuring they're all driver-free, otherwise you're in for a whole world of ball-ache.
Set up was pretty straight forward. Basically, plug anything into anywhere that fits. Kodi immediately picked up on the 4TB hard drive and, thanks to the OS' wide selection of pre-installed codecs, could instantly play all of the 500+ DVD/Blu Ray files that I had saved.
Next, I set about installing the necessary addons. All of these are open source and as such can be a bit temperamental. Below is a list of those I found most useful. To install, simply download as .zip files, save to the external hard drive and then open via System>Settings>Add ons>Install from zip file.
For the final step I installed a permanent TorGuard VPN via System>OpenElec>Network>Add new VPN configuration. Full instructions for configuring a VPN can be found here.
And here's the end result. A 4TB media centre, streaming Netflix, ITV Player, 4od, iPlayer and Spotify. The system can also stream live TV, however this will require a UK TV license.