Well in the USA it's almost impossible to actually own the cable box you end up using if you subscribe to cable, and they turn off useful features becuase they are so afraid you'll somehow get the content off and try to do something with it.
The dish based alternatives are a bit more relaxed about what you can do with the content so many folks are now going that route, and even saving money or gaining extra features.
I just upgraded to full on HD cable and they GAVE me a Motorola DCH3200 that has a USB port but it wont recognize a drive I plug in so I spose it's pretty much useless and disabled so I can't try to transfer any of my HD goodness onto a drive.
I can record anything I want in SD quality from the live S video port, and use the HDMI or component outs for my HDTV at the same time but capturing anything in HD is not allowed.
If I could buy my own box with a DVR or some way to save the content I like on my Network and not just have it locked into their box I'd be all over it, and so would many more users I think.
Only reason I upgraded was they offered the simple HD box with no monthly charges and I actually get more TV and a phone for the same or less then I was paying before hand, for at least a year, for the same services with less features.