If, like most Americans, you get your TV service from a local cable provider or a satellite broadcaster, chances are good that you can get a DVR on the cheap.
Local cable providers are increasingly offering free DVRs, such as this Scientific Atlanta 8000.
Why have a separate set-top cable or satellite box and DVR when you can combine both into one handy unit? For satellite customers, DirecTV offers real TiVo DVRs for as little as $50, while Dish Network's Dish Player is available for $300. New customers for each service can often get a DVR for free (with a service agreement, of course). Meanwhile, many cable systems that offer digital service also offer a DVR option--a free upgrade to your existing cable box. DirecTV and most cable companies charge a fee for the DVR service; Dish Network currently offers it for free. Also, most satellite- and cable-provided units are dual-tuner models, so you can watch one show while recording another (or even watch a prerecorded show while simultaneously recording two live programs). Downside:
Of the free options, only DirecTV offers true TiVo service--and the company is rapidly moving to roll out its own, non-TiVo DVR line. If you're searching for value-added upgrades such as built-in DVD burners, media streaming from your PC, or sharing recorded video between multiple DVRs in the same household, you'll have to look elsewhere--at least for now. Outlook:
The DVRs offered by cable and satellite companies can't match full-on TiVo models, but considering the price, we're not complaining. Pair up your free DVR with an entry-level DVD recorder
(so you can permanently
save select shows), and you have a flexible, inexpensive home-recording system.