Like it or not PVRs from your Cable company are here to stay.
So easy to program and use that even the most "Technically Challenged" can use them.
Latest models have External HDs of 1 TB, that will take forever to fill.
You can get your recordings off of the machine! Admittedly the process is ugly and time consuming (real time recording), but it can be done through the Fire Wire (IEEE1394) port.
Sadly, the Cable Company's have the recording function dissabled for all "Pay per View" content.
BTW. Vast majority of box failures are caused by those who insist on placing junk on top of their box and preventing adequate cooling.