First off I know this post will be contentious for many of you...but read on and then respond;
Back in the day when Pluto Inc were first developing Pluto (of which LinuxMCE & Dianemo are direct descendants) the Tech world was very different;
- Crestron were the Elephant in the room (still are?)
- Everything was expensive (I mean everything)
- There were no inexpensive Media Players or SmartTV's
- No inexpensive Tablets and SmartPhones hadn't been invented
- Building custom hardware was difficult & expensive
Its in this context that PXE booted Media Directors were born. They solved several problems in one hit; They enabled a '10 foot' TV based custom UI, they played local CD/DVD discs and could stream video from the Core, they provided local in-room control I/O at essentially zero marginal cost. At the time all these capabilities made incredible sense even though they added complexity. But today they largely don't.
Today the UI has migrated to your tablet or smartphone and is touch driven, we have low cost IP controllable media players and Blueray/DVD players that can play disc media and/or stream video content from anywhere, independent small IP controlled I/O is cheap and easy to install where ever you need it. The Media Director is a hangover from a previous age. It adds cost, complexity and adds considerably to the amount of energy a system consumes. Its another point of failure and a source of many problems both for those building and installing their own systems and for those using systems too.
How many threads here in the forum relate to problems with MD's? I don't know the number but its a big one. And they continue to cause reliability problems in use too. Yes some installations have MD's that don't cause any problems - but most do experience problems at some point. Of course upgrading from one OS release to another is also problematic too in terms getting displays configured and working properly again.
Removing MD's, using Orbiters on tablets or Smartphones and using IP controlled media players/SmartTV's seems to me to be a much better approach overall and its the one we've taken with Dianemo. It improves overall reliability, lowers energy usage, reduces the physical size of your system while improving video playback quality & performance.
For some of us its the challenge of getting our systems working that is the payback and in that sense MD's improve systems! But I think for most of us we'd like fewer challenges and more smooth and rewarding usage of our systems. After all there are an infinite number of other pieces of hardware you can get a challenge from when integrating that won't stop your family from watching Game of Thrones ;-)
All the best