The Polaroid machines are actually made by Phillips. I know they made two different models (one with an ATSC tuner and one without) both sold at WalMart for less than $300. Unfortunately there is not much else out there that you can purchase and does not have a monthly fee. But good DVRs cost more than $300, and even though it has a 160G HD (a good size over a year ago), they are cheaply made. I have one of each of the models and each of them has significant problems. My only suggestion is to check with Phillips, other than that, all I can do is concur with your experience. I'm sorry.