PARTS: get a media center remote. they are very handy and can be as cheap as $30.

WEBSITES: newegg.com has the best search tools and great prices. once you decide on specific components, price check them against buy.com, zipzoomfly.com, and tigerdirect.com.

PARTS: i wouldn't put a core i7 in a home theater pc because they run fairly hot and need a relatively noisy cooler. if you plan on doing mp4 encoding, a core2quad q8200 ($150) is a good choice. if you just plan on viewing hd content, a core2duo e7400 ($110) will be adequate. both can run fine in small cases with a low-profile cooler. if you must have the latest tech, the core i5 is a better choice for a media center pc since it runs cooler and will be cheaper (full feature p55 based mobos will be around $130 compared the $180 minimum price for an x58 based mobo).

you'll need a decent video card to handle HD decoding and light gaming -- i suggest a radeon hd 4670.