Any i3 or better, 4GB or better with a video card with dedicated video memory with HDMI and the DVD player and of course Windows 7 should be fine.
WiFi is nice but can be trouble for some if the distance to the WiFi router is too far. It's all about location and what's between you and the router. It rarely is the hardware choice unless it was some rare 2 dollar thing.
Windows 8 might be OK if we add the start button back in. http://www.stardock.com/products/start8/ for example and there are others and free ones as well. We'll get a few Windows 8 machine just in case we get asked if our apps run on it but for now we see that Windows 9 will be fine.
For me I went simpler with an Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7 to the HDTV but this falls short on what you want to do but I thought I'd toss this in.
With that out of the way, let's look at the top sellers at amazon.com for desktops. Stores have drank the Windows 8 Kool Aid so my bet is you may not get what you want there.
At NUMBER 2 I see http://www.amazon.com/HP-P7-1490-Pavilion-Desktop/dp/B009X8EC90/ so read the buy comments and see what you think.
We have an eight year old Gateway tower (OS = Win XP) hooked up to our Samsung flat screen TV and watch all our TV and movies through our Internet hook-up (Hulu, Netflix, sports through random free sites...etc.)
This is working well for us and we're very happy with the set-up except that the Gateway is so weak, we need to upgrade.
Questions for those who know about these things:
1. Given that all we care about for this computer is internet/wireless speed and video and sound quality, what specifications should I be looking for in a new tower? What processor speed/capacity, RAM memory, sound, video and wireless cards, will maximize the quality of our viewing?
FYI- we live in a rural area where our Internet service is limited to 6 MBPS max (right now it runs about 1.5 to 2 MBPS but will soon be upgraded (in theory) to be closer to the 6 MBPS max).
We will also want to play DVD's through the DVD drive that the new computer should have. We do not need a TV tuner. We do not play video games. And I also assume we will not need much hard drive capacity but maybe I'm forgetting something?
2. What operating system should we get? I'm inclined to get Win 7 because Win 8 seems like overkill for what we need. Plus my wife is very frustrated by changes brought about by periodic software upgrades. Win 8 looks like nightmare to her. But I worry that we lose out in the future by not starting off with the latest OS when available.
Any help on any of this would be greatly appreciated- thanks!