The new case does have front-USB ports, so I modified the software to be more mouse-friendly -- we'd just plug in a mouse when needed. Of course, when the bay adapter arrives, we'll switch back to remote-only operation...
Anyway, as I wrote in my previous entry, audio and DirectShow video didn't work, which kind of defeats the purpose of a dedicated media player PC...
For the benfit of others who may stumble across this entry when searching for the solution to the same problem: it's a Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H motherboard I have, with an integrated ATI HD3200 graphics board. The manual that comes with the motherboard details how to get audio through HDMI (page 19): simply select 'HDMI Out' as the audio device. What the manual fails to mention is that 'HDMI Out' only appears when you have set the video output in the BIOS as 'D-SUB/HDMI'. The weird thing is that you still get video on the HDMI if it is set to 'D-SUB/DVI' -- so you have no indication that the BIOS-settings are incorrect.
I changed the setting, and lo and behold: audio through HDMI!
Then the next problem. I had installed the Combined Community Codec Pack, my favourite codec pack, because it plays pretty much everything I have ever encountered. (And let me tell you, anime fansubbing groups have pretty wide-ranging tastes when it comes to encoding their work...)
The CCCP installs everything as DirectShow filters, which can be used by the Windows Media Player and lots of other players. DirectShow filters use DirectX to write the decoded video straight into a video buffer overlay -- which is why you don't get a video-image if you make a screenshot of a video being played.
My problem was that the video overlay wasn't shown on-screen. There were no errors: since all codecs were installed, the machine could decode the video without any problems, and I even got audio. But I only got a black square where the video was supposed to be... The VLC player has a non-overlay mode, and that showed the video without any problems, so the issue was only with the overlay not being shown.
It turns out that you have to set the 'Avivo Video' presets in the Catalyst Control Center to the 'Theater'-mode. Somehow, that caused the video overlay to become 'unstuck', and we got video on the TV!
Tonight, we had our first viewing session on the new TV. We were very pleased with the picture quality -- and these were even recoded vids, so they didn't have all the pixels present. There were some jagged edges if you looked closely, but those didn't detract much from the viewing experience.
My video-recoding days are over. I am looking forward to seeing 720p videos on this TV -- it's the native resolution of the new TV, and that should prove to be a very satisfactory experience. I don't regret doing the MACH F-upgrade and getting the new TV.