Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Los Angeles, CA
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I went through this search a couple of years ago. There are many ways to go if you are using a Home Theater PC (HTPC), or do most of your viewing on computers or otherwise somehow on the internet. If what you want is a piece of home theater equipment that is basically plug and play via HDMI, I found only two options:
1) The Channel Master CM-7000PAL. Readily available from Amazon and other retailers, a bit pricey for what you get IMHO. Upside is it does exactly what you want, which is basically the same functionality that VCRs had but for broadcast HDTV. Downside is it has a fairly clunky interface, and according to some has spotty reliability (I've been using mine for 2 years and have had no problems so far).
2) Tivo. Upside is the user experience - nice interface, and the system is "smart" in the sense that it knows you mean to record specific programming, not time slots. If your show is delayed 10 minutes because the baseball game on previously ran long, Tivo is usually smart enough to pick that up. The Channel Master is just dumb clock, recording Channel 7 at 8:00pm for 2 hours. Downside to Tivo is in addition to the cost of the box, there is a monthly fee.
The Tivo will stream Netflix, Hulu, Pandara, etc. The Channel Master does not, although you could always pick up a cheap Roku or an Apple TV for all your streaming needs.