I highly recommend leaving a PC out of the loop when it comes to the high-definition formats. I know that the technology is out there, but the software and hardware is still changing. More "standards" are yet to come. PCs are notorious for hardware failures even without the added issues that come with HD DVD and Blu-ray. Think of it like this. The first DVD-ROMs and DVD-RAMs were very flaky. It takes a few generations of software and hardware components to get everything to play nicely together. Also, minimum specs are released for using Blu-ray on the computer, but just like other hardware and software, you will find that the minimum specs just don't quite cover it. Anyway, like you said, a PC has many manufacturers so chances are there are components that don't like working together. I have Pro Tools running on a PC and it took forever to get all the kinks worked out. Pro Tools gets picky over which video card you have in your system. Yeah, that's logic, sound editing software crashing because of a video device driver.
In the end, get a standalone player. I love my Samsung BD-P1400. I know everything you read says that it is a piece of junk, but let me tell ya. Mine has functioned near perfectly. The only glitch is a very rare stutter in the picture. But never once has it locked up or forced me to restart the player or movie.
Amazon has the BD-P1400 player for $280. This is the player that is also being offered at Costco for about $275. Great player as far as I am concerned. Handles SD DVD very well too.